This month, Davinder Raju, the Eco Dentist, lists simple changes you can make to your reception area to make it more sustainable.

We are seeing more and more small businesses taking the lead and playing a role in creating a more sustainable future through their actions.

In trying to make dentistry greener, however, dental personnel often jump directly to the clinical setting when discussing sustainability and reducing a dental practice’s environmental impacts.

Here, they determine that being green is too challenging within the surgery environment. This is possibly because of a lack of clear and pragmatic guidance from our regulatory bodies.

However, we also know that customers respond well to businesses that choose to place value on the planet.

This is especially true of millennials, who are increasingly driving markets. It, therefore, would seem unwise for any business to ignore sustainability.

Where do I start?

Now, suppose you’re new to the concept of sustainability. In that case, making your entire dental practice environmentally friendly may seem complex and overwhelming.

You might not know where to start.

So, why not start by taking small steps to achieve specific goals to create environmental sustainability in particular areas of your practice?

When patients first enter a dental practice, they are typically greeted and wait in the reception area for their appointment. So why not start here?

After all, it immediately allows patients and visitors to learn and get a feel about your practice’s culture while waiting.

In my case, my patients are usually kept waiting a little longer as running to time has never been one of my greatest strengths. Still, I use the area to promote where we, as a practice, have embraced sustainability.

Sustainability, in general, is a broad term. Still, in a nutshell, it’s about the impacts (both social and environmental) and long-term implications of the service you as a dental practice deliver.

The idea, therefore, is to find practical ways to reduce, reuse and recycle the resources your practice reception needs instead of consuming more and wasting them.

If you’re ready to make a difference and create a sustainable reception area, start by analysing your current set-up. Identify areas you can actively fix.

Easy steps to take

Here are a few easy steps, that I have implemented in my practice, to get started:

  1. Make admin and communication digital: Using suitable practice management software significantly reduces paper use. Medical history and treatment consent forms are signed digitally, significantly reducing time spent on admin tasks and saving the practice money. Additionally, e-mailing patients their appointments and receipts also conserve resources

  2. Switch off computers and peripherals at the end of the day and lighting during periods such as lunchtime

  3. Only use certified recycled paper for all stationary, eg practice leaflets

  4. Carry out duplex printing when printed material is required

  5. Recycle used toner printer cartridges

  6. Use A5-sized paper for printing where practicable, eg for prescriptions

  7. Consider purchasing stationery products manufactured from recycled products, eg pens from recycled plastic bottles

  8. Make a recycling point available for patients to dispose of their plastic toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes and power toothbrushes

  9. Decline toothpaste samples from manufacturers (the amount of plastic relative to the amount of toothpaste product is high)

  10. Offer an alternative to plastic and styrofoam cups for patient beverages

  11. Offer recyclable/compostable toothbrushes and plastic-free oral healthcare products in the dental shop

  12. Only use enviro-safe cleaning agents

  13. Provide magazines on sustainability in the reception/patient lounge to increase general public awareness (when Covid restrictions in the healthcare environment are lifted).

Every change makes a difference.

It may not seem like the steps listed above in your dental practice reception area won’t help climate change. However, even minor changes and actions toward reducing your practice’s impact can make a difference.

The small changes above will leave a lasting impression on your patients and increase positive brand association.

This helps to make yourself especially attractive to those patients who are eco-conscious.

Additionally, it will help cultivate a culture of pro-environmentalism by encouraging team members to seek out opportunities to reduce your dental practice’s impacts in other areas of your business.

Sustainable healthcare is complex and convoluted.

But all journeys, whether easy or difficult, begin with that first step.

So make a start at your reception where patients can see that you’ve started on a long, never-ending, but worthwhile journey.

Greener, more environmentally-friendly sustainable dentistry is possible.

If you want to know more about how to make your practice green, join us.