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Intensive care for the environment

Intensive care for the environment

The key to a sustainable workplace is to ‘think big, but start small, [and] keep it fun and friendly’, says Duane Miller, Alfred Health Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurse.

In Mr Miller’s presentation, he asserted that becoming more sustainable involves a cultural change and, to do that you want to encourage your colleagues and avoid nagging them.

The Alfred ICU ‘Green Team’ began with a group of environmentally-minded colleagues wanting to do their part to reduce waste.

Through brainstorming and asking other colleagues for ideas, The Alfred ICU ‘Green Team’ set about making incremental changes over five years.

They started off by changing the ‘careless culture’ of throwing away thousands of single-use styrofoam cups destined for landfill and the easy switch to double-sided printing.

‘We talked about the positive changes [and] didn’t focus on doom and gloom’, Mr Miller says.

‘We wanted staff to do this because they wanted to, not out of fear of being told off’.

Initiatives included fun and educational games using chocolate as a reward, the production of a staff newsletter called ‘Trash Talk’, and dressing up in green superhero costumes.

Staff participation rose when they felt respected by the ‘Green Team’ and had fun.

‘It takes a while but we kept up positive messaging, made it easier and removed barriers to change as possible’.

Despite this, they still had 15 per cent of staff opposed to the changes. Mr Miller says the best way to deal with ‘saboteurs’ is to make them feel heard, but don’t engage as they won’t participate.

After all the end goal is to contribute towards a healthier planet.

‘We provide intensive care for our sickest patients but for the environment too,’ he says.