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Correspondence  |   July 2017
Promoting Sustainable Practices via Art
Author Notes
  • University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin (K.L.Z.). zuegge@wisc.edu
  • (Accepted for publication March 31, 2017.)
    (Accepted for publication March 31, 2017.)×
Article Information
Correspondence
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
To the Editor:
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.
Fig. 1.
Hospital staff participate in a vial cap sorting event.
Hospital staff participate in a vial cap sorting event.
Fig. 1.
Hospital staff participate in a vial cap sorting event.
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Fig. 2.
One of the completed artworks now on display in our hospital.
One of the completed artworks now on display in our hospital.
Fig. 2.
One of the completed artworks now on display in our hospital.
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Research Support
Support was provided solely from institutional and/or departmental sources.
Competing Interests
Dr. Zuegge receives nonclinical time for her role as Medical Director of Sustainability for University of Wisconsin Health. The Department of Planning, Design, and Construction funded the printing, materials, and supplies for, and framing of, the artwork. The other authors declare no competing interests.
Karin L. Zuegge, M.D., Meghan E. Warren, D.O., Bridget L. Muldowney, M.D., Amanda T. B. Kron, B.S. University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin (K.L.Z.). zuegge@wisc.edu
References
McGain, F, Jarosz, KM, Nguyen, MNHH, Bates, S, O’Shea, CJ Auditing operating room recycling: A management case report. Anesth Analg 2015; 5:47–50
Wormer, BA, Augenstein, VA, Carpenter, CL, Burton, PV, Yokeley, WT, Prabhu, AS, Harris, B, Norton, S, Klima, DA, Lincourt, AE, Heniford, BT The green operating room: Simple changes to reduce cost and our carbon footprint. Am Surg 2013; 79:666–71 [PubMed]
American Society of Anesthesiologists Environmental Task Force: Greening the operating room and perioperative arena: Environmental sustainability for anesthesia practice. Available at: https://www.asahq.org/resources/resources-from-asa-committees/environmental-sustainability/greening-the-operating-room. Accessed March 2, 2017
Fig. 1.
Hospital staff participate in a vial cap sorting event.
Hospital staff participate in a vial cap sorting event.
Fig. 1.
Hospital staff participate in a vial cap sorting event.
×
Fig. 2.
One of the completed artworks now on display in our hospital.
One of the completed artworks now on display in our hospital.
Fig. 2.
One of the completed artworks now on display in our hospital.
×