Earth Day: Achieving Sustainability

April 22, 2021 | (22) Comments

At Texas Children’s, we take care of the world’s most vulnerable children from around the world. We provide the highest quality form of women’s services and maternal care to women who need us most. We are the hands that cradle the tiniest of patients and celebrate when they are strong enough to go home. The multitude of medical staff, employees, and volunteers who make up Texas Children’s Hospital is without a doubt caring for generations of families.

However, to make a true difference for future generations, the care must go beyond our role within these walls. We must dedicate ourselves to create and maintain a healthy environment for generations to thrive.

Can you imagine what our environment would look like if we cared for the earth the same way we care for our patients?

Our patients are strong and resilient but still need us to help them get where they need to be. With the high-quality care we provide to patients every day, we get the privilege of seeing them overcome challenges and grow to reach health and prosperity. Just like the patients we serve, the earth is counting on all of us to do our part to create the transformation it desperately needs. Today, on Earth Day, we celebrate an atmosphere within Texas Children’s that gives back to our environment.

A few ways we’ve initiated sustainability throughout the organization is by implementing re-usable medical waste and sharps containers, installing LED light fixtures to help reduce energy consumption, and converting our shuttle buses to utilize propane in order to reduce carbon emissions. Next year, we will resume our annual tradition of planting trees to commemorate today’s holiday.

We are continuously educating ourselves on new ways to make an impact and have incorporated a variety of environmental conservation efforts as we plan to build our North Austin Campus. Food waste composting, electric car charging stations, reflective roofs to minimize heat gain, bicycle racks, and LED and dark sky lighting fixtures have all been included in the building design. We have also minimized pavement to preserve trees and maximize green space.

Other ways Texas Children’s is leaning into organizational sustainability is through our research. Just last year, Dr. Kjersti Aagaard and Dr. Bhagavatula Moorthy received a National Institute of Environmental Health grant to study how the toxicity of environmental chemicals impact preterm births.

I truly believe that the world’s largest organizations should be paving the way for sustainability, and as the nation’s largest pediatric hospital, we have an obligation to help lead this vital initiative. If you have suggestions for sustainability at Texas Children’s, or if you’d like to share how you plan to celebrate Earth Day, leave a comment below. I ask that you join me—in and outside of the hospital walls—to ensure that Texas Children’s is leading the way for sustainability in healthcare, environmental change, and creating a clean, healthy world for the generations of patients we serve.


22 Responses to “Earth Day: Achieving Sustainability”

  1. Victoria Gomez

    1-Turn off desktop computers, instead of putting them to sleep. 2-Put signs by the elevators to use the stairs. 3-Making sure the sprinkler systems heads are working properly and to make sure water is only use early morning or late at night.

  2. I think it is important that we are being good role models for our young patients and are recognizing Earth Day and our sustainability efforts. I would like to suggest water bottle refill stations around the hospital to reduce the use of single use plastics.

  3. Melissa F

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this!
    “Can you imagine what our environment would look like if we cared for the earth the same way we care for our patients?” Yes, I can imagine it and that would be beautiful!! Proud that Texas Children’s Hospital is committed paving the way for sustainability.
    Happy Earth Day today and every day.

  4. Traci Foster

    Love this blog! I feel extremely fortunate to be part of an organization that cares about the environment and takes steps to better the only Earth we’ve got! One area that I think we can do much better in is recycling. There are very few recycling containers across the campus.

  5. Hossein Tcharmtchi

    I agree with Traci Foster and proud that TCH is taking these steps
    Recycling paper, plastic and aluminum is an untapped resource. we should have more recycling bins and regular pick ups.

  6. Andrea Romay

    Mr, Wallace,

    Thank you for addressing this issue, I believe caring for the environment is critical and is sometimes forgotten. With our daily habits we can make an impact by turning off the lights, printing less, using our own cups and utensils, etc. I would love to see more recycling bins throughout the buildings, utensils that are not individually wrapped, perhaps avoid plastic bags in the cafeteria, small things that can help us become more aware and conscientious. Happy Earth Day!

  7. Lindsey

    I am happy to see that the hospital is starting to make true efforts in the realm of conservation and preservation. Happy to hear about the efforts in Austin but I echo the concerns mentioned by others related to the lack of recycling done here on the main campus. Many members of our team keep their recyclables and take them home to recycle at the end of the week. This really does seem like a missed opportunity.

  8. Amanda Harris

    Could the plastic containers and utensils at PFW be replaced with biodegradable ones? If not, can we obtain some recycling bins? We waste so much there every day.

  9. Lisa Hastings

    Sustainability and environmental awareness predicts the future health of the planet for our patients and children! Love that we are discussing this on the blog today. Some suggestions to consider for TCH to increase sustainability are: adding more indoor plants or “living walls”, adding recycling bins to public areas (not just office areas), reducing single use plastic containers in the food court, allowing the public to “refill” personal coffee cups at the coffee shop, and conducting an audit of each work area to determine realistic ways to improve waste reduction as able. Thank you for this topic!! Earth Day should be Every Day!!

  10. Thank you for shining a light on this subject. Recycling to preserve and protect our planet is so very consistent with our mission to care for children. When you think about recycling and litter, think about your role in being the guardian of Earth which will eventually be in the hands of the children. Start small. You know the adhesive backing piece from our daily COVID wrist bands? Don’t throw it on the floor of the shuttle bus or on the sidewalk. Place in your pocket and then in a trash container. Same with masks at the end of the day. Put them in a trash container. Do this for our planet. Do this for the patients we are here to care for.

  11. Agree with the comments and was just thinking about this today as I take some plastic home to recycle. It would be wonderful to have access to recycling bins at main campus!

  12. Can we use biodegradable cups, utensils? (I cringe at the amount of waste from our break rooms and seeing all those boxes of styrofoam cups). And the Kuerig pods are the worst. I bring my utensils and reusable containers from home. But I know many don’t even pay attention. And yes I agree with the many folks above on more recycling bins. (Of course plastic in general needs to be eliminated).
    Thank you!

  13. Crystal Sallans

    At home we have made the commitment to Reduce, Recycle, Reuse. We try to reduce our consumption of things and the space it takes up in land fields. We place our recycle trash can next to our regular trash so it is just as easy to recycle as it is to throw something away. As a result each week we have twice as much recycling as we do trash. We shop thrift stores and find other ways to reuse items rather than throw away. Thank you Texas Children’s for modeling the way to care for our one planet!

  14. Alfredo Jaime

    I am glad to know that TCH is interested in recycling I would like to suggest recycling all the plastic containers from all the products we use at TCH like in the OR it will be nice to recycle all the plastic from the supplies Thank you for your efforts. Alfredo Jaime

  15. I agree with others as well. Recycling bins would be so helpful and lets all keep in mind that the little papers from the bracelets given during screening have been seen covering the floors on the shuttles and off the escalators in the legacy tower. Let’s be more mindful of those little details and do our part to help keep our hospital looking as gorgeous as it does. One team One dream!

  16. Jenny O'Dowd

    Another voice here to support reducing the amount of plastic and styrofoam used by staff and patients/visitors! Can we switch to biodegradeable utensils, cups made from recycled paper, reduce the amount of plastic packaging on food items in our cafeterias? Can we please use our reusable cups at the coffee shop again? (I think there is plenty of evidence at this point that covid transmission is not really occurring via inanimate objects, if that’s the worry with reusing cups.) Love the idea of water bottle refilling stations in public areas. We need more recycling bins, in public areas and breakrooms! Separate bins for paper, plastic, and cans at areas with multiple trash cans or one single stream bin next to single trash cans throughout the hospital, and more frequent emptying, so people don’t throw away recycleable items because there’s no room in the the bins. Compost bins for food waste instead of trash would be significant in lowering TCH’s annual carbon footprint, perhaps we can partner with some of the composting companies in town (my household subscribes to a compost service with Happy Earth Compost) to manage our food waste and biodegradeable utensils. If we can’t eliminate it, is there any way to recycle the vast amounts of plastic we use every shift for our patient care? Syringes/flushes, IV tubing, medication packaging, all the single use items in our supply rooms and the ORs? Having LED lights is great but such a tiny single step compared to the vast amount of waste generated by all medical facilities. How about adding some solar panels to our campuses? We can do so much more!

  17. Lisa Rhodes

    As the technology improves and more EVs and plug in hybrids are becoming affordable to many please consider supporting those of us who are driving those vehicles by installing multiple charging stations in the garages where we park so our commute is even more environmentally friendly. It does not need to be a prime spot as it is in retail parking lots. If I could charge at work I wouldn’t mind where I parked in the garage!

  18. Mariah

    In my life at home we work to reduce the number of single use plastics we buy, we’ve pretty much eliminated ziploc baggies, taking our own shopping bag to the grocery store. We use reusable glassware to store left over food. Reusable towels in the kitchen instead of paper towels and napkins. With our son we use cloth diapers at home and even got daycare on board with it! I would love it if more hospitals were more encouraging and knowledgeable of cloth diapers. They are so fun and cute, and since it’s all I know, it’s not a ton of “extra” work. Feel free to ask me about how awesome cloth diapers are!!!

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