The Green Team at Northern Health
“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it,” – Robert Swan, British author, explorer and activist.
In the heart of Northern Health, a dedicated team of healthcare professionals has embarked on a journey that transcends the boundaries of healthcare and resonates with the very essence of our planet’s wellbeing.
The Green Team is a self-organised, multidisciplinary group with a focus on improving green practices within various departments. The team involves medical practitioners, nurses, physiotherapists, social workers, occupational therapists, as well as clerical and administrative staff with a high interest in sustainability. It currently has 30 team members who operate on a volunteer-based approach, and therefore, the initiatives implemented are surplus to the staff’s own work demands.
Within the Northern Hospital Epping Emergency Department, the team has been led by various members for approximately six years, but has changed leadership, as well as objectives across this time, mainly due to the pandemic.
In 2023, the team has a number of initiatives that are recycling-focused, such as collection of empty medication blister packs, coffee pods, batteries and partially opened or expired consumables. Once collected, they are then either donated to local centres, such as the wildlife centre for consumables, or sent to established recycling centres such as pharma cycle for medication packets.
The Green Team also works closely with the Equipment Team at Northern Health to promote sustainable products being used within the department, such as paper medication cups and sugarcane kidney dishes. The main idea is to try and reduce the use of plastic, and where it cannot be reduced, try and reuse or recycle, as best as possible.
“A new project we are hoping to implement with the support of the Senior Medical Staff Association is usage of reusable coffee cups across the hospital – so watch this space!” says Esther Welsh, Critical Care Registered Nurse, Northern Hospital Epping.
One of the main objectives of the Green Team is to create awareness on green-related themes within the health service.
Moving forward into 2024 and beyond, they hope to work in tandem with Northern Health on a wider scale, so that the current initiatives can be implemented across the entire health service.
The team is also aware that some departments have their own projects and therefore, they would like to collaborate with them to help make Northern Health more sustainable in many ways.
“I think that the biggest obstacle we have is the notion that our actions are small and don’t matter, but our energy ripples all around us. I truly believe that even the smallest of actions towards sustainability can create meaningful change,” said Dr Lavania Balakrishnan, ED Registrar, Northern Hospital Epping.
For more information or to join the team, please contact NHE-GreenTeam@nh.org.au
Pictured in featured image (L-R): Lavania Balakrishnan, Esther Welsh, Ella Riley, Sara Melvin and Sarah Howard.