Hospitals purchase a vast amount of products, so targeting environmentally preferable materials can have a big impact. Even in the digital age, hospitals remain paper-intensive. It takes thousands of trees and millions of gallons of water to make our paper, and the manufacturing process produces greenhouse gases and air-polluting particles. It is these fine particles that contribute to respiratory issues.
Asthma and asthma-related issues are the most common reasons for admission to Seattle Children’s. In January 2014, we began purchasing 30% recycled-content paper. While this helps us reduce our impact, we realize that to have the greatest effect, we need to decrease our paper usage. Since 2014, we have decreased our annual usage by more than 11%, despite hospital growth. We plan to continue this progress, and our whole organization contributes to this goal.
Furniture can have a range of toxic chemicals included in the manufacturing process. As part of our work in the Healthier Hospitals, Healthy Interiors challenge, we currently source 55% of our furniture free of harmful chemicals. Our goal is to achieve 80% by 2020.
Our green purchasing program continues to expand, and we are committed to our true north: to source materials that are environmentally preferable to protect the health of our children, families and staff.