Tips for Choosing a More Sustainable Physician

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If you live an eco-friendly life, you undoubtedly make careful decisions about what you buy, use, and how you otherwise live. You might use your car as little as possible, choose natural and organic products, avoid chemicals and toxins, and steer clear of plastic and other waste. 

However, many people interested in living a sustainable lifestyle don’t take the step of finding a primary care physician who upholds the same kinds of values. There are ways to locate a doctor who does things in a more earth-friendly way, though. You just have to know where to look and what to ask.

Energy-Efficient Workplaces

Look out for a medical practice that takes steps to operate a more energy-efficient workplace. Physicians can swap out power-sucking light globes for more eco-friendly ones, for instance, and take advantage of natural light as much as possible. They can install solar panels on the roof of their office to reduce power loads, too. 

It also helps if they take steps to insulate the buildings they’re in (or choose those already well-insulated). This will keep the heat down in summer and the cold minimized in winter, thus reducing the need for appliances to control the temperature. Plus, all staff should turn off computers and other devices when not in use. 

Telehealth Options

People typically drive to see their doctors, using up more gas and creating a higher emissions output when they do. However, when physicians offer telehealth options to their patients, this helps everyone make more sustainable choices. 

Getting to see an online doctor of your choice can also be more convenient and allow you to choose from a broader range of doctors and attend appointments from the comfort of your home or office, saving time in the process. Before booking in with a physician, ask if telehealth is available, whether through a phone call, video call, or other means. 

Convenient Locations

It also pays to look for medical practices located close to public transport links. That way, people can catch buses, trains, and the like to go and see their doctor, rather than driving in their own vehicles. Doctors who choose convenient locations make it much more likely that patients utilize public transport to arrive rather than individual cars. 

Waste Reduction

Waste reduction is another way physicians can help the planet. While the medical industry naturally has a lot of paper to deal with, doctors, admin staff, and other workers can use less paper and cut waste in turn. For instance, they can get patients to fill out online forms rather than printed ones and streamline processes so there’s less need for the same information to be printed multiple times. 

Practices can shred and recycle the paper they do still have to use, too, and replace disposable cups and cutlery and switch from bottled water to filtered water fountains. Some single-use items will be tough to find a work-around for, such as needles and exam gloves. However, doctors can rethink small sachets or bottles of things like antiseptic, saline, and distilled water. Choosing larger bottles with less packaging makes a difference. Physicians should also recycle as much waste as possible and educate employees on what can and can’t be sorted as either recyclable or medical waste.  

Prescription of Natural Treatment Options 

The more medications get prescribed around the world, the more resources get consumed. There’s paper, plastic, chemicals, and many other components in drugs, after all. As such, doctors should consider prescribing natural treatment options wherever possible to their patients. 

For example, look for a physician who believes in suggesting alternatives to medications for people to at least try first, such as meditation, exercise, mindfulness, and diet changes rather than anti-anxiety or depression medication. It’s not always possible to get results from natural treatments, but minimizing manufacturing pollution and waste wherever possible helps the environment. 

Eco-Friendly Supplies

It’s a good idea to ask clinics about the types of supplies they choose, too. Physicians can make more earth-friendly choices in many areas, including with the gowns, medical instruments, and towels they buy. There are often products on offer made from recycled or natural materials and manufactured with fewer chemicals, such as thermometers without mercury or gowns made from organic cotton, jute, or bamboo.

There’s no shortage of cleaning products that are safer for the environment these days, too. Practices should focus on cleaning systems that don’t emit volatile organic compounds and use fewer pesticides, PVC, and packaging. 

Finding a more sustainable physician takes some time and energy, and you’ll need to ask clinics plenty of questions about their operations. However, once you find a doctor focused on sustainability, you can rest easier knowing you’re making a positive choice for the planet and yourself.

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