Written by Kailee Havrda

The health care system makes up a large fraction of the world we live in and now a days it has become part of the fore front of our news. There are times when the health care system seems untouchable, but there are still many ways that it can become sustainable and eco-friendly and develop more environment centered ways of healing.

Medicine Disposal

One of the biggest aspects of the health care system is medicine. Everything revolves around getting and taking medicine for many treatment plans, but it is the disposal of these medications that often go unspoken or unnoticed.

Many people do not realize how important it is to dispose of their medications correctly. Now this does not just mean, you should just scratch out your information when you throw away the bottles. I am talking about the extra medication from surgeries or when you have extra from the medicine you just got off of. It is the pill disposal that is the important part to remember when being sustainable in medicine.

The go to option is to throw away medicine or flush it down the toilet, but these options actually are negatively affecting the environment. By flushing your medicine, it can dissolve in the water, further polluting the water source with all sorts of medications, that could then be dumped into rivers and ponds because they can’t be processed out the medicine. Just the same, if you throw away your medicine animals like raccoons could get into them and eat them. Both of these options result in negatively affecting the life sources around us.

To fix this, every time you need to dispose of your extra pills, go to your local pharmacy and ask about proper disposal methods or if they have a pill drop box. There are also days throughout the year that the DEA holds Take Back Days, where they set up posts throughout the nation where people can go and drop off their medications.

An easy way to access this information, is to go to this website https://takebackday.dea.gov/#collection-locator, scroll to Collection Site Locator and type in your zip code to find the nearest pill collection center near you. This is simple and easy to do to help stop the negative effects that medicines like, various forms of birth control (patches, pills, etc.) to heart medicine to antibiotics.

Single-use Plastics

Another part of the health care system that does not help our environment is the fact that the system is made up on single use plastics. That they believe are cheaper up front, but negatively affect the environment. The motions of using a plastic instrument that comes in plastic, once for thirty seconds then throwing it away, only negatively affects our plant. Plastic is one of the biggest problems that the nation faces when it comes to trying to recycle it and process it, so the health care system attributing to that does not help the environment. The process of sterilizing metal instruments in surgery is acceptable yet we look down upon it for day to day use. Why couldn’t we slowly start to develop more of a reusable and sterilizing process into our day to day medical activities that could help to cut down on the single use plastic of our health care system.

Utilizing the Environment In Health Care

On a positive note, the medical field can use the environment in its day to day processes that actually result in better health care treatment outcomes. By providing spaces with windows to the environment (not just the outside but the actual sky and life) and even having plants throughout the hospital can greatly benefit the well-being of the patients in the facility. It brings in light and life and positivity that actually help to elevate the patient’s mood and well-being for better treatment outcomes. Also, plants can be broken down and used in oils and medications that help for the treatment of different diseases. The world, the environment, plants, and nature can greatly influence the medical system in many ways, from treatment to therapies, to the overall well-being of a patient.