Correspondence  |   July 2017
Promoting Sustainable Practices via Art
Author Notes
  • University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin (K.L.Z.).
  • (Accepted for publication March 31, 2017.)
    (Accepted for publication March 31, 2017.)×
Article Information
Correspondence   |   July 2017
Promoting Sustainable Practices via Art
Anesthesiology 7 2017, Vol.127, 206-207. doi:10.1097/ALN.0000000000001684
Anesthesiology 7 2017, Vol.127, 206-207. doi:10.1097/ALN.0000000000001684
A few plastic caps from medication vials used for an individual anesthetic may seem insignificant; however, these items accumulate. Using five vials per case for 30,000 cases annually, we waste 150,000 caps per year. At the University of Wisconsin–Madison, we identified an opportunity to divert this commonly discarded material from landfills. Although too small for comingled recycling, caps can be recycled successfully when collected separately. Recycling rates of 20 to 25% are achievable in the operating room without compromising infection control or creating financial constraints.1 
Forming a multidisciplinary green team is an effective means for promoting sustainable practices.2,3  To raise provider awareness of the amount of waste that can be generated in a healthcare setting, our green team initiated a vial cap collection (fig. 1). In addition to recycling caps, we collaborated with our hospital art coordinator to create mosaic artwork from this colorful material (fig. 2). Interest in the art project was greater than anticipated, creating dialogue between staff in all areas of the hospital. Staff have joined together for several art-making events in which participants sort the caps by color and participate in gluing the caps to a large art piece. Educational information about green efforts in the healthcare setting was on display for participants to learn more. Seeing the large collection of small plastics conveys the impact of medical waste. Holding these plastics in their hands to create artwork inspires healthcare providers to look at the bigger picture of the environmental impact of our practice.
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