Momwithastethoscope's Weblog

July 23, 2008

The Green Pediatrician

Filed under: Office — momwithastethoscope @ 1:02 pm


 Here are some random thoughts about how doctor’s offices can have less impact on the environment.   I’ve written previously about greening the office on KevinMD.  Promoting breastfeeding is a good way to get started.  There is no packaging involved, and the benefits are bountiful.  Consider that it takes 95,000 tons of tin plate to manufacture 550 million cans of formula.  And speaking of formula is there a better way to package powdered formula?  Could there be some sort of reusable container? 

Local produce is another suggestion I have giving parents lately.  The quality is better than the produce shipped in from across the country.  Tomatoes and cantaloupe taste better when they are allowed to ripen on the vine.  Local produce can be less costly, too, when shipping isn’t figured into the price, and supporting local farmers is good for the local economy.  Organic is great when it’s local, but I’m a little wary of organic pineapples and bananas shipped in from far-flung locations.  Since we peel these fruits anyways, I’d rather stick to the nonorganic variety or local fruits like the berries and peaches we have available in the southeast at this time of year.

Organic doesn’t always mean safer, either.  Consider the anaphylaxis from bee stings or peanuts in susceptible people. With the recent outbreaks of E.coli in tomatoes, it bears repeating that all produce should be washed before consumption.   Care also needs to be taken with certain foods for babies.  For example, the eyes in potatoes can be poisonous to babies. 

Toy choices can be green, too.  Wooden toys such as blocks have long life spans in the toy box.   Watch the country of origin to make sure the paints used on wooden toys meet US standards and don’t contain lead.  Toys can be recycled through consignment stores, eBay, Craig’s list, and yard sales.  Nothing pleases an older baby than being able to shred paper or play peek-a-boo with a box lid.  Older children enjoy creating toys from household scraps like newspaper, boxes, bottles, milk cartons, and some crayons or paint.  Some of the best swords come from the tubing from wrapping paper or paper towels. 

I’m sure there are lots more ideas about promoting healthy and green lifestyles in the pediatric office.  I’m looking inward, too, to see what new processes I can put in place to reduce my carbon footprint in the office.  I’m trying to print fewer articles from the computer and just read them (it’s hard – there’s something about having information in hand to be able to show and share with others).  I’m also considering a couple different types of e-prescribing to decrease paper use and improve efficiency.  Like all things in pediatrics, it takes baby steps. 


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