When you think of becoming environmentally friendly, you may automatically think that it is too expensive or seems unattainable for your practice. At the end of the day, veterinary practices are businesses and need to make a profit in order to function properly. Yes, if you opt for the ‘luxury’ marketed items or immediately upgrade your boiler to the best eco-friendly model you can find, then the costs will undoubtedly seem unrealistic. But, it certainly doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, there are numerous ways we can actually save money in practice by going green.
How going green can be good for your veterinary practice
Reuse and Reduce
Common sense suggests that the easiest way to start saving money is to use what you already have. For instance, do you really need to buy more notepads when you have stacks of scrap paper waiting to be recycled? Leading on from this, you’ll want to start reducing what you are using too. A great example of this is to implement double sided printing; this will save your practice up to half of the paper it uses and will ultimately reduce your paper costs too. These options are simple and won’t cost you a single penny. They will even save your practice money in the long run, just by changing your mind-set and implementing a few new strategies.
Invest in a water purifier
Sometimes, when you’re trying to go green, it’s important to think about the bigger picture. Purchasing a water purifier for your practice is one of my top tips for being eco and wallet friendly! Take a second to work out how many bottles of purified water you go through in a week or a month. A 5 litre bottle will cost you around £4.50 (90p/litre). A decent water purifier can be purchased for under £100 and they will typically produce 4 litres of purified water at a time. So, if you’re going through 2 bottles of water a week, within 3 months you’ve already started saving from your initial investment. Plus even better; just imagine how many water bottles you’ve eliminated already (and will continue to do)!
Buying in bulk is a great way to help the planet while also saving money. Suppliers often realise the economic benefits of selling in bulk, so will offer bulk products at a discounted price per unit. Buying in bulk is also great news for the planet as the items will produce far less packaging waste and will generally have lower transport emissions as more can fit in a single vechicle. For example, you can either purchase a 500ml bottle of Hibi scrub for £4.40 or a bulk 5 litre bottle for £32.99. If you bought the same quantity in 500ml bottles (over time), it would cost you £44, which is an eye watering £11.01 more. Additionally, you will be considerably reducing your plastic usage as you will be left with 1 large bottle instead of 10 small ones. This concept will also work for a lot of other consumables such as disinfectant solutions, purified water or surgical spirit. Ask your suppliers to see what they can offer you!
Regular stock takes
Unfortunately, one thing I regularly see as a locum are lots of almost-expired medications and out of date prescription foods. I cannot express enough how important it is to take regular (monthly) stock takes and keep a list of nearby expiration dates. You might find it helpful to have an ‘expires this month’ basket to keep those medications separate and easy to locate. This way, staff can easily see which medications need to be used up first (when appropriate, of course) and food can be offered at reduced prices before it goes out of date. Not only will this save your practice money by not wasting products, but you will also prevent these products from being sent to landfill or being incinerated.
Be energy efficient
Although it may not be an option for your practice to switch to a renewable energy provider (although it couldn’t hurt to get a quote!), there are still plenty of ways you can be more energy efficient in practice. The changes you are able to make will be very individual for each practice. For example, perhaps not all practices will have the facilities or space to hang dry their washing, but we can all make sure we are putting a full load of washing on! When the time comes to replace your light bulbs, make sure you’re replacing them with an energy efficient LED alternative. LED bulbs are up to 80% more efficient than traditional bulbs and can last up to 6 times a long, reducing the need for frequent changes (aka waste). Remember to turn off lights when not in use and activate power saving modes on all the practice electronics.
All these small, simple changes are very inexpensive (if not free) and are guaranteed to save your practice money, while also helping the planet at the same time!