Earth Day 2009:
Wednesday, April 22,
is Earth Day. This year’s international theme is The Green Generation while the theme in Québec is Eco-Municipalities. Coop la maison verte will celebrate Earth Day on Sunday, April 26, from noon to closing. There will be live music, children’s activities, information booths and more! Details to come.
Our heirloom organic tomato and other plant seedlings are now available for order from our virtual boutique. You can also place your order(s) at our store where you will also find gardening supplies such as fertilizer, coco blocks (an alternative to peat moss), miniature greenhouses (for starting seeds) and neem oil (a bio-insecticide).
Look Up Gallery Artists of the Month:
Colour pinhole photographs by Norman Rickert and Martin Perrier
***Please note that the coop will be closed on Monday, April 13 (Easter Monday).
Thanks this month to: Anne-Andrée Richard (translation)
Please phone or visit the Co-op to sign up for these events. For more information visit our website.
by Fiona Hanley
As Earth Day approaches, some of you might be wondering what nursing has to do with the environment. As a nursing teacher at Dawson College, my answer is, everything! Nursing practices and the environment are inexorably linked, whatever form they might take, and many are acting on that belief by joining the Green Healthcare Movement.
Florence Nightingale, a woman of extraordinary courage and perception, understood the imperative of providing fresh water, fresh air, daylight, and good food for her patients, basic aspects of care that have often been neglected in our high-tech modern healthcare system. Her legacy is at the heart of Green Healthcare.
It is ironic that while nurses aim to promote health and prevent harm, we work in a sector that’s a key contributor to environmental pollution that contributes to many health problems. It has been estimated that about 5½ kg of solid waste is produced from the average hospital patient per day (Environment Canada, 2002). Our healthcare institutions also consume huge amounts of energy, and produce large amounts of air and water pollution. The incineration of hospital waste is the biggest source of dioxin and furan emissions in the country (Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, 2007).
I became involved in the Green Healthcare Movement several years ago when I could no longer bear the disjuncture between how I was trying to reduce my environmental impact in my own life, and what I saw in the healthcare setting where everything was thrown in the garbage. It did not make sense that in our homes and communities we were trying to follow the 3 R’s, but when we got to the hospital we forgot all about our environmental consciousness.
I discovered Health Care without Harm (HCWH), an organization founded in the U.S., which now has groups in over 50 countries. The mission of HCWH was one I immediately felt to be in line with my own ideas. They work to encourage the healthcare sector to stop contributing to pollution, to “Do No Harm,” and to respect principles of human rights and social justice. What interested me particularly was the Nurses Working Group of HCWH, made up of nurses from across the U.S. who share thoughts, ideas and information about environmental changes that they bring into their work setting through regular teleconferencing. Some have started Green Teams, others raise awareness about environmental health issues for students and the public, and others still lobby politicians to make changes in policy.
In 2008, I joined the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) Environmental Reference Group. It was exhilarating to discover so many nurses in Canada who were just as passionate about environmental health as me. Working online and by telephone, we put together a series of modules for nurses across the country to encourage them to weave environmental health issues into their practice, and provide them with tools to do so. The results are up on the CNA website with focus in three main areas: Greening the Health Sector, Nurses and Environmental Health, and Climate Change. The background papers, podcasts and PowerPoint presentations present sound information and ideas for action to reduce environmental exposures and make nursing practice less environmentally harmful.
A major part of our role as nurses is advocating for the well-being of our patients and communities. The links between environmental deterioration and health are increasingly clear; we are all carrying a body burden of chemical contamination and it is our professional responsibility to speak out for prevention. The more the public is informed, the more they can ask questions and push for change as users of the healthcare system. When the public questions the attention hospitals and clinics are paying towards reducing their environmental footprint, change may happen more quickly.
About the author: Fiona Hanley has been teaching nursing at Dawson College since 2001. She has been active in promoting the integration of environmental health into nursing practice, and is a member of the Canadian Nurses Association Environmental Reference Group.
Eco Logic is a place for members to write or suggest articles about environment or community-related subjects of all kinds. Email your ideas to email@example.com
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