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How you can go green in the optometry practice


A U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson, founded Earth Day in 1970, and it has been celebrated annually since that time on April 22. In 1990, his efforts were revamped to include recycling efforts. This got me thinking-how am I addressing this in my office now, and what can I do better?

The views expressed here belong to the author. They do not necessarily represent the views of Optometry Times or UBM Medica.

Learning facts about history has been much easier for me as an adult than when I was in grade school. My first-grade daughter is teaching me so much about history. This week’s book was about Earth Day. A U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson, founded Earth Day in 1970, and it has been celebrated annually since that time on April 22. In 1990, his efforts were revamped to include recycling efforts.

This got me thinking-how am I addressing this in my office now, and what can I do better?   

Go paperless

Healthcare reform and the move to electronic medical records is helping medicine to use less paper than ever. Some offices, like that of Carol Nason, OD, of West Palm Beach, FL, have been successful going 100 percent paperless. How?

She has implemented the use of laminated forms and dry erase markers for patients to use at check in for HIPPA consents and health surveys. Then, just like paper, the laminate forms are scanned into patient charts, cleaned off, and reused for the next patient- brilliant! 

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The never-ending pile of junk mail, it kills 100 million trees yearly with the average adult receiving 41 pounds yearly, and 44 percent of this ending up in landfills, unopened.

Postcard reminders can add to this waste. Ask patients to enroll in email or text recalls for appointment reminders. Look into reducing the amount of junk mail your practice receives using the following websites: DMAchoice.org or catalogchoice.org.

Email correspondence is yet another way to reduce paper in the office; email patient letters to providers in place of faxing or mailing. 

Next: Efficient technology


Efficient technology

Paul Collins, OD, of Newburgh, NY, uses low-energy devices in his practice with LED lighting as well as LED TV and computers. LED lighting uses at least 75 percent less energy and lasts up to 50 times longer than incandescent lighting.

Increase efficiency of heating and cooling the office space by installing high-efficiency HVAC and a programmable thermostat that can be set to run during office hours and to shut off with the close of the office daily.

Green is the new black

When cleaning green with newer products like Norwex, all you need is water and the cloths to provide a sterile surface-and they are reusable! Other cleaning products with a green seal of approval include the Seventh Generation line.

Consider adding a water cooler for you and your employees to reduce the amount of water bottles consumed in your practice. If plastic bottles and soda cans happen to find their way in, be sure to recycle. And what about the craze for the single-serve coffee K-cup-these create a lot of waste but can easily be recycled. Check out recycleacup.com to find out how with a special tool for $9.95-mine is in the mail! 

Related: The growing green trend in optical

Eyewear is a great place to go green! Harbor EyeCare Center promotes a great brand with Modo Eyeware. The ECO line is made of 95 pecent recycled content, and a tree is planted for every frame sold. Since the introduction of this project in 2009, 1.4 million trees have been planted in Cameroon. James Tuttle, OD, at Wheatlyn Eye Care in East York, PA, also promotes a green line of eyeware with the David Green collection. Each frame is made with fallen leaves to create a one-of-a-kind frame that supports preservation of nature.

Next: Repurpose



Tanya Gill, OD, from Oakland Vision Center in Oakland, CA, takes repurposing to a new level. In her practice, staffers reuse boxes for patient shipment or other shipping.  Her practice is located near a great resource for teachers called Creative Reuse that repurposes. She donates anything from bubble wrap to vases to plastic wear. A quick Google search will find a place near you that does the same.


Magazines help to entertain patient in the waiting room and also are used by providers to stay current with eyecare trends and treatments. Most local recycling plants cannot recycle these glossy pages. In Pennsylvania, The Ronald McDonald House offers a recycling program for all glossy print. It also recycles the metal tabs from soda and other cans. Place a jar in your waiting room and watch it get filled.

Recycle eyewear by supporting the local Lions Club. Advertise to your patients about how to recycle their old glasses.

Contact lens cases-like yogurt containers and plastic caps-are made from plastic number 5, which is not routinely recycled. Gimmie5 will take these products and repurpose them into toothbrushes and other plastic goods.  

Next: Green patient care


Green patient care

Reducing waste for patient care can be done as well. Start with your contact lens patient. Switching to daily disposables not only provides optimum comfort and compliance but also reduces the waste that extended wear contact lenses create with cleaning systems, solution, and storage cases. 

Sanitizing is a must; by using a system such as Bruder’s sanitizing system you can sanitize instruments and reduce the number of alcohol wipes used everyday without sacrificing cleanliness or sterility for your patients. 

Dissolvable punctal plugs are another options to reduce waste for your dry eye patients. Paragaon BioTeck’s Lacrisolve 180 Absorable Punctum Plug does not have a plastic applicator like the silicone plugs and can be inserted every six months to control patients’ symptoms. No applicator means less waste. 

Linking diagnostic equipment to your server so it can be view directly in the patient chart is a great way to reduce paper, especially with visual fields and OCT printouts.

This Earth Day, I encourage you to focus on 2020, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, by going green in your practice.

Click here to check out more Optometry Times blogs

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