I'm not much of an environmentalist, I'm afraid. Oh, I insist on fluorescent bulbs, but I sometimes forget and throw paper or bottles into the trash instead of the recycling bin, and I can never remember what I'm supposed to do with the little dead batteries from the remote. But my stay in a couple of medical institutions shocked me. Every day, I watch several yards of plastic tubing and three or four little syringes tossed into the waste bin after my infusion. Not to mention the disposable gloves that the nurses pull on and toss after each procedure, even the ones that take only a few seconds.
I know there are perfectly good reasons for all this waste, but in a big hospital like Stanford it must be prodigious. What happens to all that stuff? Is it dumped? Incinerated? Or somehow purged of its previous uses and recycled? None of those alternatives is particularly attractive. And the energy costs of running all that equipment must be astronomical. (Is there a fresher word than "astronomical"? Cosmic? Galactic?)
In an age when we're all being urged to turn down our thermostats and recycle and drive less, it seems like the hospitals are exempt. Maybe that's how it should be -- I certainly don't want to get my meds through an IV line somebody else has used before me -- but I wonder how conscientious hospital management is being encouraged to be.