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8 Ways to Reduce the Healthcare Carbon Footprint

Posted January 13, 2023

The following is a guest blog by Sr. Celine Paramunda, MMS, a Member of the LSAP Health and Healing Working Group.

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Pope Francis urges us throughout his Laudato Si’ encyclical to take a holistic approach towards the health and healing of both people and planet Earth. 

Referencing the creation accounts in the book of Genesis, Pope Francis writes:

“Human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbour and with the earth itself. According to the Bible, these three vital relationships have been broken, both outwardly and within us. This rupture is sin. The harmony between the Creator, humanity and creation as a whole was disrupted by our presuming to take the place of God and refusing to acknowledge our creaturely limitations. This in turn distorted our mandate to ‘have dominion’ over the earth (cf. Gen 1:28), to ‘till it and keep it’ (Gen 2:15). As a result, the originally harmonious relationship between human beings and nature became conflictual (cf. Gen 3:17-19). (LS, 66)

 

Health of the people, health of the planet are interconnected

There needs to be a delicate balance between the health of the Earth and the health of people. Today, more than ever, scientists and all people of conscience are aware that human activities, especially greenhouse gas emissions, are causing global environmental crises.

Worldwide, experts estimate that the health care sector is responsible for as much as 4.6 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, which include carbon dioxide, methane, and ozone, among others. 

“Reducing the carbon footprint of healthcare requires direct action to reduce waste and energy use.”

In the process of healing patients, hospitals use a vast amount of natural resources, generate tons of waste every single day, and consume massive amounts of electricity. This translates to increases in greenhouse gas emissions and air quality issues that have the potential to result in more patient admissions. 

8 Ways to Reduce the Carbon Footprint of Healthcare

  • Raise awareness, including your own, about the interconnectedness of the health of the planet and that of humanity.
  • Make changes in the energy sector: replace electricity with solar and wind energy whenever possible, and reduce waste and the use of resources—healthy disposal of waste is paramount.
  • Plant more trees and recycle wastewater to combat water pollution and water scarcity.
  • Provide healthcare closer to home and teach alternate health care methods, including changes in lifestyle, using home remedies, and utilizing the healing power of nature.
  • Take responsibility for your own health rather than depending on doctors and healthcare professionals—become a mindful self-compassion teacher.
  • Keep a simple lifestyle with healthy relationships, a healthy diet, and exercise, which are all crucial for the wellbeing of our body and mind.
  • Maintain a holistic relationship with nature as part of wellbeing and wholeness—the healing power of nature is something instinctual to many of us in Asia.

Enroll in the Laudato Si’ Action Platform and create a Laudato Si’ Plan to begin taking concrete steps towards healing the Earth and improving the health of all humanity.