The Green Hygienist – creating a sustainable reception in your dental practice

The green hygienist – sustainable dentistryLottie Manahan lists 10 steps you and your team can take to make your practice reception area more sustainable. 

Not only is it our duty to act consciously to protect our environment but odds are your practice will become more efficient and reduce costs – all while boosting employee motivation. Here are some ideas to green up the reception area in your practice:

Recycle your office waste

Ensuring office spaces are well equipped with organised bins that are clearly labelled will encourage correct use. It’s worth discussing at a staff meeting what can and can’t be recycled in the receptions common waste so that everyone is well informed. This also encourages the whole team to act together.

Go paperless

Using digital spreadsheets and softwares throughout the practice will change the need to use the printer. Limit the paper available each day and double think before printing.

Do I really need to print this? If using paper is necessary, pick thin, sustainable paper that can easily be recycled and print double sided in black and white ink.

My staff staple scrap paper together to make homemade notepads so paper gets extra life. Using iPads and emailed medical histories will help to keep all patient notes both handy and confidential – but with no waste.


It’s not enough to simply power down your devices before leaving. If a device is plugged in, power is still being consumed. Phantom power, or standby power, can become a huge, unnecessary expense for your company if left unaddressed. Make a checklist for closing down each day to save wasted energy.

Water dispensers

Ensure that all staff have their own refillable bottles and remove plastic cups from the dispensers. Instead, why not stock reusable glasses or buy  recyclable cups made of paper? These are a great alternative to that single-use plastic cup mentality.

Bulk buy

Bulk buying equipment, sundries and products not only saves you money but also reduces the carbon footprint of the deliveries and unnecessary packaging waste.

Clear your storage areas and minimise junk in your practice to store bulk buys. Junk can be donated or sold for another life on Ebay, which also opens up moneymaking opportunities.

Air conditioning and heating

Monitoring the temperature in the practice and regulating it will prevent the overuse of air conditioning and heating. Using windows wisely to ventilate rooms is not only best practice for safety but it prevents wasting power using air con.

Ensure staff uniform is cotton and easily washable at low temperatures. And remember extra clothing for the winter months!

Install LED bulbs

Compared to traditional incandescent or compact fluorescent bulbs, LED bulbs use 75% less energy. They can also last more than three times as long. This will ultimately help you to cut costs (by reducing the number of bulb replacements you buy in a year) and reduce your carbon footprint since LED bulbs are non-toxic and recyclable.

Junk mail

Take steps to reduce postage from businesses. For example request that they contact you via email only. It might also be worth asking if you can cut what you post out. Use email and cut the footprint, the paper and the cost for your business.


Regular monitoring and auditing of waste and carbon footprint can help raise awareness of the amount of true waste within the business.

Make sure all staff meetings include green time, an allotted segment to discuss ideas and the progress of sustainable practice. Together you can brainstorm creative ways to propose your ideas to the office decision makers, as well as put systems in place to measure and monitor how the initiatives are impacting the practice.

Daily commute

Our practice made the big step of moving the whole team to a four day week. This reduces the carbon footprint of staff travelling to work significantly, which is actually one of the biggest problems in dentistry when it comes to carbon footprints.

Encourage your patients to take greener steps to their appointments by including directions via bike routes and local park walks. You could also marry up their appointments with multiple clinicians on the same day if needed.

The smallest of changes and steps can often make the biggest difference over time.

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