Sustainability in dentistry – reviewing and celebrating your sustainability progress

sustainability in dentistryIn the final blog of a four-part series, Mark Topley explains why reviewing and celebrating your progress is important.

If you’re over the age of 40, you’ll probably remember ‘Smashy and Nicey’, characters created by Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse in the early 90s. A parody of a particular generation of ageing radio DJs, the pair coined phrases such as ‘quite lidderally’ (literally) and ‘poptastic’, ‘pop-a-doodle-doo’, ‘popadopoulos’. My favourite, and their most famous, was Smashy’s ironically very frequently used phrase of: ‘I do a lodda work for charidee’. To which Nice would add (but he doesn’t want to talk about it).

In my work helping businesses to tackle the sustainability and responsibility challenges, there is often a reluctance to profile the great work they are doing to care for the planet and their communities. Clients understandably want to avoid being seen as a modern day dental Smashy – and talking a lot about what they do.

And so they don’t use what is a great opportunity to authentically and humbly encourage their teams and their peers to do more of what we all need – sustainable and responsible approaches to dentistry.

And that’s a shame because despite the cynics and naysayers, profiling your sustainability is actually a very positive thing to do.

How to communicate and celebrate

As I mentioned in blog two of this series, starting communications with a clear ‘why’ is critical.

Start your webpage, poster or pinned social post with the rationale and ‘why’ behind it. It’s good to get your social media or PR person (or you can do this yourself) to create a simple plan to subtly but consistently drip feed messages into your channels that build an authentic picture of your purpose and CSR.

Avoid big splashes and announcements until you have some concrete achievements to speak of. My template for clients’ web pages and newsletters looks like this:

  • Why we commit to sustainability (and responsibility)
  • What we commit to doing (the decisions we make)
  • How we are implementing those decisions (the initiatives)
  • The progress we are making (update regularly, as well as sharing on social media and in your newsletter).

Obtain an accreditation or certification

Recognising your achievements is an important part of the sustainability process. Both to encourage your stakeholders, and to demonstrate your credentials more broadly.

Choose an accreditation scheme that fits your practice and ensure that it incorporates all aspects of CSR.

I personally think that dentalcsr.co.uk is a great place to start. It’s a set of bespoke standards for dentistry, created by experts in the dental field. With bronze, silver and gold levels, there is an accessible standard for anyone, no matter what their starting point.

Review your plan

Set a review point at the start. Although you will review the plan regularly, towards the end of your first year it’s important to ensure that you have a ‘warts and all’ discussion of the successes and challenges and how you will move forward. 

What’s next for you?

And so now you need to start! Or if you’re already on the sustainability journey, perhaps review your activities in the light of this series. A couple of resources that will help you:

  • The CSR Advantage’ is my book on sustainability and responsibility in dentistry
  • Coming in January – responsibledentistry.com – a monthly sustainability and responsibility action plan for your practice. This is a new online support programme with simple steps to follow each month. It builds to help you achieve bronze, silver, and eventually gold Dental CSR certification. As well as giving you tools to authentically communicate your sustainability credentials.

Further details at marktopley.co.uk/start.

Ten years from now, we better hope that a sustainable dental practice is the norm. Suppliers, manufacturers and governments will play a huge part in this.

But we have the opportunity and responsibility as practices to lead the way and play our part in accelerating the agenda.

It’s a choice that is good for the planet, good for patients, and good for us and our teams. I hope that you’ll start today. Good luck. 


Read previous Sustainability in dentistry columns:

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