Good evening folks and thanks for stopping by! Some good news to start with - our brilliant practice won a silver award for all the small positive changes we have made to reduce our carbon footprint over the past 3 years. It has been thanks to the hard work and creative thinking of the entire team, as well as support from our PPG (thank you PPG!), community pharmacists (Tracey Chambers and Stephen Shew), our local Primary Care Network, and colleagues in the media who have helped us spread our message in the written press and on radio.
To celebrate, I went for a walk before morning surgery yesterday to treat myself to a necessary morning beverage. Little did I know, as I rounded the corner of Sim Balk Lane in my usual carefree manner, that a new business had opened called The Coffee Pod. Think take-away drinks, home-made cakes (including vegan and GF), sandwiches, and best of all - a brilliant attitude to being environmentally-friendly! Owners Jeni and Charlotte were friendly, helpful, and passionate about their compostable coffee cups (plus you get 10p off your coffee if you take your own cup - win!), they have free bagged-up coffee grounds for your garden, and they also have 'rescue' Nespresso pods. These are a bit like wonky veg that would otherwise end up in the bin in a totally deplorable perfectionism-crusade-waste-fest. So if you have a Nespresso machine, yours would make a perfect new home for these castaway containers.
But why the obsession with traipsing round to find coffee? Well if you don't know the answer to that you should probably stop reading now! It's the whole package: walk, fresh air, chat to my trainee, refuel, sometimes get rain-drenched in the process and return to work looking less than professional but with bags of enthusiasm to make up for it. Staff wellbeing means ensuring people get brain breaks, exercise and time for nature! Doesn't really matter what job you do; you'll be much more productive afterwards. And you can find out more about my views on workplace wellbeing (aka 'A Roomful of Hygge') here.
So back to OSMP and our forays into a more environmentally-conscious way of caring for our patients and the planet. Well friends, obviously we now have our sights set on the elusive gold award. This really is the Kinder Bueno of sustainable healthcare prizes: nobody really knows what it entails, how long it will take to finish or if it's just the stuff of legend, but we're on a roll and keen to keep going! And since one of our current projects is about medication-related waste, let me turn to this now. When your box/strip/bottle/inhaler is empty, it may surprise you to know that it still matters what you do with it, because different sorts of waste cost different amounts to process as well as being potentially harmful to the environment if we get it wrong. Here's what we can do to help:
Only order what you need. If you're going away on a fancy Mediterranean cruise then just let your surgery know why you're requesting e.g. an extra months' worth at a time. Ignore our jealous faces; we'll be happy to issue the extras for a genuine reason. Most practices will not do 3 months for everything as routine, and the reason is we are trying to avoid stockpiling and wastage (which costs the NHS an eyewatering £3 million every year).
Prescription bags can be used over and over! Plastic bags for large items are worth taking back to your pharmacy and they should be able to keep and reuse them. Here's our amazing dispenser Delia Ellis modelling not only a reusable facemask, but stylishly displaying the bag for one of our very green-minded patients who has been happy to return it after getting home and unpacking their medicines, so that Delia can keep it in a box and reuse it for that very same patient. So far 19 times! This is something we are very proud of.
And paper bags make great mini- receptacles for shopping e.g. for mushrooms, seeds and coffee beans. But don't put all these together in the same bag. Yuck. Unless you're Heston...
Empty inhalers should be returned to a pharmacy. They cannot be recycled (unless you live in Leicestershire where there is an exciting trial going on *jealously*) or reused. We are working hard trying to push manufacturers to make reusable outer casings, like Spiriva and Spiolto - well done guys!
If your child has just had liquid antibiotics and you still have a little left in the bottle, this must be returned to the pharmacy. It won't keep 'for next time', and it mustn't be flushed/binned/poured away. The ocean starts at your plughole and it's vital we protect aquatic life from the potentially harmful effects of antibiotics. Check out Healthcare Ocean for more on work being done to protect our amazing blue spaces! And if you're wondering which is greener out of tablets and liquids - the answer is...drumroll...tablets! Children as young as 5 can be safely taught how to swallow them; just check out this brilliant and helpful video from the KidzMed project.
Cardboard packaging and those little side effects leaflets with text small enough for only an elf to read, can be squished and popped in your household recycling.
Empty blister packs or strips (those pesky plastic/foil monstrosities) can be recycled at some Superdrug pharmacies. In York, Tower Veterinary in Fulford has a collection box for customers, so save up your empty paracetamol strips and take them in next time your pooch is poorly.
And remember folks - reduce is always always the best option if possible. My word counter is a constant reminder of that...