the business of contact lenses
Do Your Part by Going Green
BY GARY GERBER, OD
With this issue's focus on bio-inspiration, I'll take time to celebrate the “bio” and discuss how we can do our part by going green. For the “bio” part of bio-inspiration to succeed, we need a clean, healthy and safe environment. Going green, otherwise known as environmentalism, is a philosophy that focuses on efforts to save natural resources and be more environmentally aware. To that end, here are things you can do to help the cause. Notice that nearly all of them are free and can be done almost immediately.
• Whenever possible, work from home. You can't fit patients with contact lenses from home, but administrative tasks, such as bookkeeping, running your recall system and confirming appointments, can be done at home.
• When practical and safe, walk to work or ride a bike. If you drive, slow down. Reducing your speed from 70 to 55 mph can increase fuel efficiency by 23 percent. If possible, carpool.
• Turn off lights when you leave a room. (Your mother was right.) It saves energy and cuts your electric bill.
• Switch to corded phones — cordless phones in a recharging cradle suck up power 24-7.
• Use voice mail instead of an answering machine. It uses less energy. If you ditch the answering machine, recycle it properly (along with any other electronic equipment you no longer use).
• Recycle obvious things like paper and plastic. Most of us do this at home but few do it at work. Remember some items, such as shipping boxes, can be reused several times before being recycled.
• When cleaning, use organic, or at least non-toxic, cleaning products.
• Fix water leaks in bathrooms and edging labs to save water.
• Ask your bank to send electronic bank statements, so you can stop receiving paper ones.
• Pay bills online. If every house (let alone office) in the United States did this, estimates suggest we would save 18 million trees every year.
• There are services that can help you reduce or eliminate junk mail, and doing so will save trees — and space in your mailbox.
• Watch the thermostat. Every degree lower in the winter or higher in the summer equals a 10 percent decrease in your energy bill.
• Adjust computers to energy-saving settings.
• Shut down all computers when you're done for the day (remember that “standby” settings still use power, even though the machine is not in use).
• Don't turn on printers or scanners until you need them.
• Refill printer cartridges in stead of buying new ones.
• Digitize to avoid print-outs whenever possible. Do those corneal topography maps really need to be printed? What about retinal photos, visual field or OCT results?
• When you do need to print, use both sides of recycled paper.
• Regarding old electronic equipment or examining equipment, in lieu of recycling, see if you can donate it first.
• When dispensing lenses or solutions, ask patients if they'd like their products in a bag in stead of just using one. Many patients will pass, especially those who already have a purse, briefcase or other bag that can be used to carry their products.
• Bring lunch from home in reusable containers. It's usually healthier and saves a car ride, which reduces pollution and saves fuel.
You should go green because you believe it's the right thing to do — not because it's a potential marketing or practice promotion vehicle. However, once you do it, there's nothing wrong with alerting patients that you're making an effort, and if you feel strongly about it, suggesting they do the same. Like joining and supporting a local civic group, do it because it's the right thing to do — not because you're seeking patients. But I bet that if you do go green, your patients (and the planet) will be grateful that you did! CLS
Dr. Gerber is the president of the Power Practice, a company offering consulting, seminars and software solutions for optometrists. You can reach him at (800) 867-9303 or DrGerber@PowerPractice.com.