Reducing our impact

pet advice

Reducing our impact

words by
catherine harper // Barossa Veterinary clinic

Clinical medical practice, veterinary or otherwise, creates a lot of general waste.  This largely stems from the fact that so much of what is used must be sterile and as a result is generally single use. 

Alongside this, there are chemicals to keep everything clean, lots of washing and medications to help heal, which all come at an environmental cost. 

Recently, as in many spheres of society, there has been increased awareness about our environmental impact and a corresponding push within the veterinary industry to create practical ways to reduce our impact. 

A team of vets with this shared concern created Vets for Climate Action, a special interest organisation, which has developed a Climate Care Program for veterinary clinics.  This program assists veterinary businesses to target specific areas within the business where they can make tangible differences to their environmental profile, doing it in a way that is practical and achievable in the scope of a busy day saving animals.

The modules cover areas like water usage, energy efficiency, reducing microplastics and recycling to name a few.  It is a powerful tool to help businesses make change and a difference. 

In combination with the Climate Care Program is a partnership with Sustainable Salons, a not for profit that facilitates recycling through the beauty industry.  They are now branching out and working with veterinary businesses, as many waste products are in similar categories. 

They collect and facilitate the recycling process, using some waste in a closed loop style, producing products from the waste for retail sale, with the rest being sold and the profit used to support Foodbank. 

As an example of how this works; pet hair from clipping and grooming is collected and then used to make ‘hair booms’ that soak up oil spills in waterways or the ocean as well as being used as part of a compost process to create nutrient rich plant fertilisers. It’s a very cool way to reduce landfill and create a useful product at the same time. 

The industry has several ways in which you can interact with the environmental initiatives also, with the ability to recycle pet food packaging being the most accessible.  Clinics have an agreement with Royal Canin and TerraCycle to use the foil bags to create picnic benches, rubbish bins and dog toys. 

We know that recycling can be hard and that it is fair to wonder if the effort of recycling is worth it, yet when we get to see the products that result it makes it feel more worthwhile.  Sometimes we all need reminding that our small choices do make a difference, initiatives like these, especially in a waste heavy industry, are a step in the right direction.  

So, what can you do today?

– Check with your local clinic about dropping your pet food packaging for recycling.

– Accept email receipts and handouts to reduce printing.

– Ask your vet what they are doing and let them know about these wonderful programs if they are not already participating.

Catherine Harper


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