Waste not, want not

As one of the largest employers in South Auckland, we have a corporate responsibility to care for our environment at the same time as we care for our community. What is really heartening is that by working together in small but meaningful ways, we are making great progress, particularly when it comes to reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfill.

In fact, I have become very aware of just what I throw out in a day, and where it goes. My green cube, which sits on my desk is a daily reminder to recycle my waste, where possible, and as you will read in this blog, 10,400 wheelie bins of waste were saved from going to the tip, this year, due to recycling. That’s an amazing result and an area of sustainability that we can all play a part in, every single day.

I’m  joined by Debbie Wilson, Sustainability Officer to provide some tips on how we can make more environmentally friendly decisions.

Theatre staff recycle waste
Theatre staff recycle waste

The great thing about my job is that I’m always on the lookout for ways we can help make our planet a nicer, cleaner and greener planet to live on. The good news is it can take doing something small to make a difference. When many small acts are multiplied by many thousands, we can all make a real difference in the world.

Over the last year CM Health recycled 34 tonnes of paper, 41 tonnes of commingle (glass, plastic and aluminium) 235 tonnes of cardboard and 2 tonnes of electronic waste; reducing in total 312 tonnes of waste or 10,400 wheelie bins going to the tip. Medical waste volumes are also tracking down by an average of 13 tonnes or 433 wheelie bins a year. While that’s an amazing result, there is so much more we can do.

Just imagine if we all decided, just for a day not to use plastic. We could save 4,000 coffee cups and lids, 4,000 water bottles, 4,000 or 4,000 foam or plastic water cups. If we did this once a week, we would save a total of 20,800, items over the course of a year.

I enjoy a good cup of coffee and make it my morning ritual to stop by the coffee cart. Now if everyone working at Counties has a coffee a day, there would be somewhere in the region of 92,000 coffee cups and lids used once and thrown away over the course of one working year.   These numbers greatly increase when you add patients and visitors to the mix.

The good news is there are things you can do to reduce unnecessary waste and do your bit for the environment. These include:

  • Getting into the habit of using a reusable water bottle and reusable coffee cup
  • Bringing in your own cutlery
  • Bringing in your own takeaway containers and asking the canteen to put your takeaway food in your container.

But don’t stop there:

  • Only print when it is absolutely necessary. Figures show an increase in A4 office paper use over the last few years. This result is interesting since the newer printers are mostly set to double side printing
  • Take your food scraps back home with you so your food waste can be composted at home
  • When you next go shopping, take your own bags with you and select items that have minimal packaging
  • Recycle mindfully making sure you flatten the cardboard, rinse out your food containers and place your recycling in the right bins

If you would like to share your sustainability ideas, I would love to hear from you. Just send me an email at Debbie.Wilson@middlemore.co.nz

Debbie and Geraint

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Author: Geraint Martin

Geraint Martin was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Counties Manukau DHB in December 2006. It is one of the largest District Health Boards in New Zealand and services a population of half a million. He has significant experience over 30 years in national policy & in managing both primary and secondary care . Previously, he was Director of Health and Social Care Strategy at the Welsh Government .He authored a radical 10 year strategy of reform, including the successful “Saving 1000 lives” Campaign.Until 2004, he was CEO at Kettering General Hospital & had held senior positions in London & Birmingham.He has worked closely with clinicians in improving clinical standards,patient safety,chronic disease management & managing acute care to reduce hospital demand.In NZ, He has promoted clinical quality and leadership as central to improving patientcare. This has led to a significant increases in productivity and access, whilst maintaining financial balance. CMH has completed in 2014 a $500 m capital redevelopment programme, the largest in New Zealand. A central part of this is the establishment of Ko Awatea,the Centre for Innovation and Research which will underpin CMH as one of the the leading health systems in Australasia.In 2008, he chaired the Ministerial Review of Emergency Care in New Zealand, and in 2013 was an member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Health Sector Performance. Geraint has an MSc in Health Policy from Birmingham University .His post-graduate work has focused on health economics and Corporate Strategy . He is adjunct Professor of Healthcare Management at AUT and Victoria University, Wellington Elected in 2006 as a Companion of the Institute of Healthcare Management, previously he was an Associate Fellow at Birmingham University.He is is Chair of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, a member of the Institute of Directors, on the Board of the NZ Institute of Health Management & previously the Board of The NZ Health Quality and Safety Commission.

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