Doctors Can Reduce Carbon Footprints

Doctors Can Reduce Carbon Footprints

How Doctors Worldwide Are Advocating for Climate Change Mitigation in 2024

By Beth Rush


Recycling soda cans and turning lights off earlier in the day aren’t the only ways to combat global warming. Professionals in every industry are helping the planet with their specialized skills — including doctors. Check out how they can help the environment to gain another perspective on humanity’s fight against global warming and the progress happening daily.

1. Changing Their Workplace Carbon Footprints

Carbon footprints apply to individuals, residential spaces and workplaces. Since people will always need health care, they’re teaming up to make their workplaces better for the environment, with the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) leading the way.

The medical facilities within its system will have net zero carbon emissions by 2045, with an 80% reduction by 2032. If doctors hadn’t started the Greener NHS program out of their concern for the environment, the NHS as a whole might not have consolidated the plan to eliminate emissions.

2. Minimizing Patient Care Episodes

Proving higher-quality medical care helps the planet in a few ways. First, patients don’t need to travel back and forth for additional appointments. It saves them from using cars or public transportation that burn fossil fuels more than necessary.

Reduced patient care episodes also minimize the waste and pollution generated by health care providers. They don’t need to use additional exam table paper, single-use gloves, and other supplies that go immediately into landfills.

Doctors can help the environment by committing to listening more and providing higher-quality care from the start of each patient’s experience. The additional compassion improves overall patient satisfaction because they feel valued. They also don’t have to undergo numerous appointments to get the care they need, eliminating the frustration others might feel when talking with doctors more concerned about their schedules than the planet.

3. Working With Global Organizations

Global warming affects people in every country, motivating doctors to team up with worldwide organizations to extend their positive impact. When the Glasgow Climate Change Conference of 2021 happened, experts discussed healthcare concerns for the first time. Doctors with the World Health Organization came together to address how decarbonization was vital for the health of global citizens.

The effort led to plans for international efforts against climate change. Countries committed to creating low-emissions plans, finding funding for sustainability efforts, and supporting nations with limited resources. The formal presentation was crucial to how doctors worldwide advocate for climate change because international conferences draw greater attention and resources to their communities.

4. Informing Their Patients

Some patients arrive at healthcare clinics and hospitals with conditions worsened by climate change. Doctors who want to improve the planet can inform those patients how the warming atmosphere affects their health. Issues like community pollution trigger asthma attacks and cause cancer through airborne particulate matter.

If patients know what contributes to their health, they may see sustainable lifestyle changes as necessary for themselves, the planet, and others suffering similarly. It’s an individual way doctors can become leaders in their communities.

Medical professionals are also advocating for sustainable habits by pointing out how eco-conscious lifestyle changes could improve a patient’s well-being and carbon footprint. They can help people plan new habits, like cycling instead of driving or eating locally sourced veggies instead of globally shipped ones. Sometimes, it just takes one conversation to clarify questions and help others start a greener lifestyle.

5. Building Green Resources

Doctors can help the environment by making new medical resources greener than before. When the team at Rigshospitalet in Denmark knew they were going to build a north wing, they committed to sustainable construction ideals. The result was a patient-centric wing with healing gardens, reclaimed construction materials, and ongoing eco-conscious waste management resources.

Their example works for other hospitals and community clinics worldwide. If the ever-expanding medical community prioritizes sustainability when creating healthcare resources, the industry as a whole will better help the planet.

6. Starting Recycling and Composting Programs

Hospitals generate waste daily. The U.S. alone generates over 1 million tons of plastic waste annually from hospitals, which pollutes the environment in landfills and ecosystems. Doctors are tackling this problem with recycling and composting programs worldwide.

The programs at Singapore General Hospital set the bar high for others following the same path. This hospital creates 4,200 tons of general waste each year, which decreases with in-house waste reduction resources like recycling pickups, stainless steel tools, and vermicomposting. The inspirational efforts demonstrate the change healthcare professionals can make when teaming up to help the planet.

Smaller clinics can implement similar things to minimize their carbon footprints. Composting bins and local recycling programs would make a significant difference, even for a team with just a few people. Doctors can also work with surrounding medical offices to expand their impact and generate more ideas with more people involved.

Doctors Can Help the Environment Every Day


Global warming affects the health of global communities daily. Doctors can help the environment and their patients by enacting sustainable initiatives where they work and live. These efforts reduce the pollution affecting the planet, ultimately helping other eco-friendly work happening in other industries.

About the Author: Beth Rush is the green wellness editor at Body+Mind. She has more than five years of experience writing and editing articles covering topics like sustainable transit and the importance of green spaces in urban planning. You can find Beth on Twitter @bodymindmag.

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