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The College of Animal Welfare

Environmental sustainability in Veterinary Practice

World Veterinary Day: 20+ Ideas to Boost Environmental Sustainability in Your Veterinary Practice

As veterinary professionals, we have a natural compassion for living creatures and the natural world.

From LED light bulbs to recyclable paper, every veterinary practice has scope to reduce its environmental impact, whatever the size or budget. In the spirit of this year’s World Veterinary Day theme, “environmental protection for improving animal and human health”, we want to share some simple ideas for eco-friendly ventures you could implement in your veterinary practice.

Read on to discover some simple ways you could make your veterinary practice more environmentally friendly:

Saving energy

  • When it’s time to replace light bulbs, consider more efficient bulbs that use less energy to emit comparable lighting. 
  • Keep infrequently used electrical devices unplugged until needed
  • Turn lights, computers and monitors off overnight or when not in use
  • Only use washing machines and dish washers when you have full loads and dry using airers/drainers where possible

Recycling and reducing waste

  • Communicate with clients digitally where possible (for example, text or phone call appointment reminders and e-newsletters for key practice updates)
  • Consider electronic monitoring and scanning software to track patient visits, payments and medical records
  • Encourage staff to bring in reusable mugs, glasses and utensils instead of using paper or single-use plastic cups. In the waiting room, select biodegradable or recycled paper cups for drinking waste
  • Install waste stations that include separate compartments for trash and recyclables and ensure your staff know the appropriate disposal methods for all waste products
  • Only use recycled and recyclable paper products, and reuse and recycle paper where possible
  • Reduce packaging as much as possible, for example by asking your suppliers to minimise packaging materials
  • Ask your staff to print only when necessary and print double sided to save paper
  • Use the internet and social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram for marketing your clinic and advertising any offers, instead of printing flyers and brochures

Think Green Products

  • Think about what commercial products your practice offers. Are you stocking green pet products? Leads, collars, toys, and bowls can all be made from recycled and eco-friendly materials
  • Use eco-friendly cleaning chemicals for surfaces, windows, floors, and laundry where possible
  • Use local labour, suppliers and materials where available to reduce CO2 and help the local community
  • Keep up to date with eco-friendly products and services that could benefit your practice whilst protecting the environment

Promote Eco-friendly Travel and Green Living Outside of Work

Make Your Grounds Wildlife Friendly

If your practice has gardens or outdoor spaces, think about how you can create a safe space for wildlife and provide cover, plants and water for all types of small animals, insects and birds:

  • Install birdhouses or feeders
  • Let the grass grow so plant and insect species can thrive
  • Create a space for insects
  • Make and use your own compost in your outdoors spaces to naturally enrich your soil and provide a habitat for worms and woodlice
  • Leave piles of rocks or twigs in an area of your outdoors spaces to create shelter for insects such as beetles and spiders
  • Use gapped fencing if possible to encourage and create easy access for hedgehogs
  • Relax about weeds where appropriate as plants such as nettles and daisies are an important source of food for many insects
  • Grow flowers to bring colour to your outdoor spaces, help bees and provide food for insects (choose drought resistant, non-toxic plants)
  • Use a buried bucker or trough to create a small pond for wildlife

Get All Staff Involved

“Going Green” does not have to be a one-person job; it should be a team effort! Get staff involved to encourage excitement about sustainability and help to make ideas a reality:

  • You could conduct an interactive session at your clinic to brainstorm with other members of the team about sustainability practices you can adopt
  • Appoint one of your staff members as a “green representative” to oversee your efforts and encourage others to use greener practices
  • Use staff emails to signpost to relevant policies and procedures at the practice and encourage participation/engagement

Have a Green Plan and Strategy in Place

Every veterinary practice has scope to reduce its environmental impact, whatever the size or budget. The best way to maintain an eco-friendly business ethos and become a cheerleader for sustainability is to create something to keep you accountable. Sit down with your team and come up with a set of green objectives, policies and responsibilities to help shape your activities. By working together, we can all live a little greener!