The Green Team
The environment and the effect we have on it, both as individuals and in the work place has become an increasingly talked about topic in recent years. The veterinary profession, like many other healthcare industries, are looking at methods to reduce impact.
At Ash Tree Vets, we have created ‘The Green Team’ who are working on ways to ensure that we are more sustainable, both socially and environmentally. We are looking at tackling areas such as waste initiatives, energy initiatives and our own social responsibility.
Investors in the Environment
The Investors in the Environment (iiE) accreditation requires an organisation to provide evidence that it has met a range of pre-defined criteria, set environmental impact related targets, completed tasks which demonstrate its commitment to improving its environmental performance and enhanced the community in which it operates. The evidence is presented at an annual audit for evaluation and this report provides feedback on the organisation’s performance as well as offering advice on next steps for continued improvement.
Ash Tree Vets has achieved the Silver level accreditation in the Investors in the Environment project. Our Green Team has worked tirelessly to ensure we make real progress toward reaching our goals.
"As a practice full of animal lovers, for many of us this love extends to all of nature and the great outdoors. A number of our team members are really passionate about the environment and how to reduce thier own personal impacts.
Health care in human medicine and in the veterinary sector has a huge environmental footprint for many reasons. As part of the management team, I felt it was really important to engage in making the practice more sustainable not only because it is the right way forward, but also for our team's job satisfaction so they know that we are doing everything we can to practice with lower impacts.
We chose to be part of the Investors in the Environment scheme as it helped us create really clear goals and targets so that we could see what impact our changes were having."
Nicole Dyer - Clinical Director and Green Champion
Blister Pack Take-Back Scheme
As part of our ongoing efforts to be more sustainable we have medicine blister pack recycling bins installed in practice.
Our ambition is to help reduce plastic waste by taking back medicine blister packs which will be used in the production of reusable items.
Many of our clients rely on medicines to manage long-term conditions for their pets. We believe having this Take Back programme will make it easier for people to recycle blister packs and so tackle the growing issue of medicine packaging waste.
“We are passionate about reducing our environmental impact in relation to our services and operations, and think the Take Back programme will go a long way to helping us achieve our goals. Blister packs are made of a mix of difficult-to-recycle materials so often end up in household waste. By being a part of the Take Back programme we will have a significant impact on waste reduction by our practice.” Nicole Dyer, Clinical Director – Ash Tree Vets
If your pet is on blister packed medication, it couldn't be simpler - just save the empty blister packaging and drop it back in to us when you come to collect your next prescription. A member of staff will check that the return is suitable for the bin, and drop it in.
We will accept non-recyclable plastic blister packs from medication dispensed by us to our clients. This service is for our clients only, and only for medication dispensed by us.
The Tree Team
This Sunday just gone, the Ash Tree Vets Green Team could be found planting trees around the Great Bowden area. They managed to complete 90m of hedgerow which was made up of 450 whips (baby trees), and certainly earned their cuppa and biscuits after, along with a visit from some of our favourite St. Bernards :)
The event was organised by Harborough Woodland which is a community volunteer group (not for profit) passionate about increasing the woodland cover in and around Harborough District. A network that helps get new trees, woods and hedges responsibly planted around the Harborough district by working in partnership with stakeholders involved. Their focus is championing all trees including their use to reduce the risk of flooding through natural flood management.
Huge congratulations to The Green Team for achieving Silver Level Investors In the Environment certification.
Silver certification acknowledges that we have demonstrated commitment to reducing our environmental impact and to the continual improvement of our sustainability performance by meeting or exceeding silver level accreditation criteria.
This year was our second year of participating in the Investors in the Environment accreditation. Despite a busy clinical year with many changes and new faces we continued to measure our resources to reach reduction targets.
Key examples of how we have aimed to reach our targets this year include:
- Continuing to monitor our meter readings and track our resource use at all branches.
- Keeping up our waste saving initiatives using less single use items and teracycle schemes. This year we pushed to recycle even more flexible plastic through teracycle by saving syringe wrappers in clinical areas from the general waste.
- We have continued to review how energy is used in the practice and making sure systems are turned off overnight and on weekends to save usage.
- Old windows at the Market Harborough branch have been replaced with new double glazing to improve energy efficiency.
- Completed our first travel survey and installed bike racks at Market Harborough.
- Through clinical meetings and CPD we have implemented a new low flow anaesthesia protocol and optimised our pain relief protocols for surgical cases and hospital patients including using more local anaesthesia and intravenous infusions. This has allowed us to reduce isoflurane use.
- Staff took part in a number of projects outside of work including maintaining our garden space, fancy dress litter pick and an environmental themed movie night.
We want to continue making and monitoring changes, and say thank you to all the Ash Tree Vets team for taking on our sustainability efforts as part of their day-to-day routine.
Emily Appleby - Sustainability Advisor – IIE, said:
Ash Tree Vets has maintained an excellent EMS with great staff engagement, exceeded its previous year targets, and demonstrated excellent understanding of performance and future target setting. The practice has also implemented a new Travel Policy and undertaken several projects to enhance the environment, support communities and staff wellbeing, and increase resource efficiency.”
Halloween Litter Pick
Thank you to the Green Team helpers who participated in Ash Tree’s first litter pick today - Halloween themed of course! We picked up 9kg of rubbish from around Harborough.
Pollinator Patch Visitors
The Green Team snapped some pictures of a number of different butterfly species (and a bee) enjoying the Buddleia in the carpark bug garden!
We planted some insect friendly pollinators back in April, and over the last few months we've seen a number of hoverfly, bee and butterfly species making use of it.
Ash Tree Vets Achieves Bronze Level IIE Accreditation
Ash Tree Vets is thrilled to announce that we have achieved the Bronze level accreditation in the Investors in the Environment project.
Our Green Team has worked tirelessly to ensure we make real progress toward reaching our goals.
We have actioned many efforts such as;
- Creating an environmental policy available to staff and clients
- We have tracked our key resource usage taking monthly electricity, gas, water, and isoflurane measurements and introducing actions to reduce use and waste production.
- Our main site had all its lighting changed to highly energy efficient LED’s.
- We have a newly created focus group to discuss different anaesthetic and analgesia techniques that may reduce isoflurane use.
- We have increased our on-site recycling and implemented the use of a number of teracycle schemes for hard to recycle plastics.
- We have a fabulous compost bin for food waste (which is now a wonderful habitat for some happy worms!).
- Our administration team put in place a paperless initiative within the office - purchase ledger documents have been made digital and statements are now sent to clients via email when possible massively reducing the amount of paper used.
- We increased our biodiversity at our Harborough site with our garden project - we took a barren strip of land in the car park and planted pollinator friendly flowers that were blooming between April - October 2021. This attracted lots of insect wildlife including, bees, hoverfly, butterflies and many caterpillars!
- We engaged the team to participate in multiple 'environmental calendar events' e.g.; we shared vegan recipes for Veganuary, started a book swap library in aid of 'Earth Hour', shared plastic reduction tips for Plastic Free July and the practice also changed to glass bottle milk deliveries starting from July 2021.
- We used the data gathered from tracking our resource use to calculate what we can of our carbon footprint and managed to reduce this by approximately 4.5 tonnes CO2 equivalent!
Our Glass Milk Bottles
We drink a lot of tea... so we use a lot of milk... and we've passed the 20th week of glass bottle milk deliveries.
That is at least 100 plastic bottles we would have used normally.
Glass is 100% recyclable and it can be recycled endlessly without loss in quality or purity.
The most obvious advantage to using glass milk bottles instead of plastic or carton containers is that they can be reused almost immediately. Those dairies that have embraced the scheme ask that clients 'rinse and return' bottles. The bottlers are returned to the dairy where they are sterilised in hot water, refilled, recapped and made ready for delivery again.
This process is much faster than having to throw old plastic or carton containers into your recycling and then waiting for it to be collected. Once your recycling has been taken away it has to be sorted and then shipped off to recycling plants which has an effect on the environment, if you consider how much fuel is used transporting the materials and how much energy is used recycling them.
We have been working hard at making our outdoor space more bee, bird and insect friendly!
We have given it a makeover, planting pollinators that attract bees and even making a bug house! The Green Team have done brilliantly making an unruly, rocky space into a better environment for wildlife and people to enjoy.
Thanks to The Plant Man for the beautiful flora!
Meet Our Bins
As part of our Green Drive over the last few months we have made several changes to help with recycling.
Every little step helps to make a wider difference.
We now have dedicated recycling bins in all areas of the practice to encourage everyone to seperate out waste.
We have a fabulous compost bin for food waste (which is now a wonderful habitat for some happy worms!).
We have also transitioned to more eco-friendly Bio Bins for all our medicinal waste.
Reusable Scrub Hats
As promised, we will keep you updated on our progress with going green and our sustainability drive. Some steps sound small, but the impact on reducing waste and filling landfill is immense.
Meet our fabulous new reusable scrub hats!
In theatre, instead of wearing disposable scrub caps, we are now using reusable stylish ones. Not only are they good for the environment, but they are fabulous too!
One area that has caused huge concern amongst the veterinary community is the use of PPE during the Covid pandemic and its disposal.
You will be relieved to hear that we use Terra Cycle’s Zero Waste Boxes, which processes waste into raw materials that are reused, rather than being sent to landfill.
More info at www.terracycle.com/en-GB/