Five Ways of Being Green by Medidenta

Since 1944, Medidenta.com has morphed into a boutique of dental products and services where we dare to be different. We are a leader in endodontics, handpieces, handpiece repair, precious metal refining services, and waste disposal solutions. Because of our wide array of divisions, we are able to offer significant VALUEADDED discounts on all of our products and services. While some companies have begun to initiate conservation and recycling procedures, Medidenta.com has also integrated these measures in its daily business operations and is committed to implement environmentally conscious changes in the dental community.
     We are increasingly being encouraged to "go green" in every aspect of our lives, and I for one think this is a good thing. What was once often considered to be an intrusion of "dogooders" into our lives is now widely accepted. But we are also finding that, in every field of endeavor, doing the right thing for the environment can actually be good business practice, too. Being "green" doesn't mean strapping yourself to a tree. However, it does mean being more cognizant about recycling that piece of paper you were going to throw out so less trees are cut down.
     To me, it felt that once the general public realized that considering the environment actually wasn't that overwhelming, a lot more people started to do the little things like recycling cans or their newspaper—the few that still exist. Five years ago, hybrid cars were a revolutionary idea. Now, nearly every car manufacturer has a hybrid model, and it is viewed as a step in the right direction toward vehicles that don't run on fossil fuels.
Medidenta.com offers products and services that every dental office needs, but I am especially interested in those that help dentists lessen the negative impact they may have on the environment. For example, here are 5 things you can do in your practice to do just that.
      • Properly dispose of amalgam waste. Before you say that you don't use amalgam anymore, remember that you probably do still drill out old amalgam fillings and that waste needs to be disposed of properly. Don't throw that chairside trap or extracted tooth with an amalgam filling into the garbage or your biohazard container. Because of the high mercury content in amalgam, the EPA considers it to be hazardous waste that must be handled separately. There are economical products and services available that are easy to use, keep you compliant, and reduce the impact on the environment.
      • Use amalgam separators. These filters should be used by any dentist who drills out amalgam fillings. Amalgam that is released into the sewer system is transformed into a bioaccumulative neurotoxin that contaminates our rivers and lakes and the fish that populate them. Amalgam separators are installed out of sight near your water pump and capture as much as 99% of the amalgam in wastewater.
      • Recycle gold and other precious metals. Few people are aware of the environmental and social impact of mining precious metals, but the reality is staggering. For example, the extraction of a single troy ounce of gold leaves behind nearly 20 tons of waste. Recycling gold and other precious metals is theoretically like recycling that empty aluminum soda can except it is worth a lot more than five cents. The more precious metals are recycled, the less we will need to mine.
      You may think that the relatively small amounts of precious metals that pass through your practice are insignificant, but they can be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year to a single dental office. Recycling gold and porcelainfusedtometal crowns, inlays, bridges, and any other precious metals will not only benefit the environment but will also bring a little "green" into the office. (To learn more about the negative impact of mining precious metals, check out nodirtygold.org.)
      • Properly dispose of lead foil and xray chemical solutions. The increasing trend in dental imaging today is digital processing, but it hasn't completely taken over yet. Therefore, there is still a need to properly dispose of lead foil from xray film processing. Lead thrown in with the normal trash doesn't get recycled. Instead, take it to a scrapyard or ask your scrap handler or refiner to dispose of it properly.
The chemicals used in film processing are also contaminants.      Because of the hazardous levels of silver in them, the EPA has stated that these chemicals must not be discharged into wastewater treatment systems. There are products on the market that enable you to dispose of these materials safely and economically.
      • Make some small everyday changes to lessen environmental impact. For instance, just by recycling paper, offices can reduce half the waste they send to landfills. Nationally, that could save more than 500 million trees each year. Another change is remembering to turn off the light when a room or area is not in use. Better yet, if sunlight is a viable option, don't turn the lights on at all. And how about using a ceramic mug for your morning coffee rather than a paper cup or one made of Styrofoam (a substance that will haunt the environment for well over a hundred years).
      You may think that making a few small changes in your practice can't have much of an effect on such a global problem as the state of our environment. However, if we work together with the environment in mind, the dental field can be an example of green leadership.
I have thought for a long time now that everything happens for a reason, good or bad, and most of the time you aren't sure why initially. This thought occurs to me when I think of a small town in Kansas that was nearly wiped off the map by a tornado in 2007. Just a few years later, residents are literally rebuilding this town from the ground up as a completely green community. The hospital, the high school, and all of the new homes are being built with the environment in mind. Maybe it took a devastating natural disaster for a small town in Kansas to rise up as a model of "ecofriendliness." Rather than feeling insignificant and hopeless, the townspeople picked themselves up and decided to offer an example for the rest of the world. Coincidentally, the name of the town really is Greensburg. (You can learn more about Greensburg by visiting the Web site greensburggreentown.org.)