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Will You Invest in Our Planet This Earth Day?

The theme for Earth Day 2022 is “Invest in Our Planet” and this year it is happening on Friday April 22nd.

Earth Day 2022 is focused on accelerating solutions to combat our greatest threat, climate change, and to encourage everyone – governments, citizens, and businesses – to do their part. Everyone accounted for, and everyone accountable.

The government in the UK has set a target of achieving carbon net zero by the year 2050. The NHS is playing its part by aiming to be the first national health service in the world to achieve net zero carbon by 2040.

As FPM Group explored in our article Green Practices: How Your Surgery Can be Greener and More Sustainable earlier this year, the CQC have listed environmental sustainability as one of the metrics that they will mark services on. But being more sustainable isn’t just the right thing to do because it satisfies inspection criteria; it’s the moral thing to do for all our communities, and it helps save money too.

There are many things that those who work in primary care can do to be more environmentally sustainable all year round. These include implementing carbon literacy training modules, increased use of social prescribing for management plans, return schemes for re-usable medical equipment, more remote working for staff to reduce travel emissions, and better insulation and standard of premises to make them all carbon neutral by 2030.

With the recent pandemic, our use of PPE (much of which is not recyclable and contains plastic) has become a cause for concern for many people. A UK study found that if each person uses one disposable surgical mask every day for a year, together they will create 124,000 tons of unrecyclable plastic waste. Of the 8 million tonnes of pandemic-associated plastic waste generated around the world, more than 25,000 tonnes are already in the ocean, causing pollution and harming animals.

The government is looking at the problem and has suggested that PPE could even be turned into bedsheets or curtains. But a lot more needs to be done, and much more quickly. 

How knowledgeable are you and those who use your services about plastic waste and what they can do to be as responsible as possible?

Last year, some NHS Trusts made their own pledges for Earth Day which included reducing energy consumption by 5%, reducing single-use plastic, and tree planting. And already this year, one Foundation Trust launched a green plan in March 2022, which is their framework for sustainability and low carbon practice.

There is a handy Action Toolkit (available here) which offers a range of ideas and resources. For example, if you’re not sure what to post on social media, there are some pre-written posts to use. Why not use the hashtag for this year’s Earth Day: #InvestInOurPlanet. There is also a free GP specific calculator for non-clinical carbon (emissions created from running the practice) available at https://www.gpcarbon.org/.

What investment will you and your practice make this Earth Day?

As part of FPM Group’s campaign to raise awareness of environmental issues and promote carbon literacy, we’ll be running several themed events over the next few months. The next one is in May—National Walking Month—when Gerry Devine will be running a walk and talk meeting, promoting the benefits of a walking meeting! Watch this space for further details.


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