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the green hospital project

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What is the Green Hospital Project?

What is the Green Hospital Project?

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What is the Green Hospital Project?

The Green Hospital Project campaigns for behavioural change within healthcare and the public. 

We believe human health and planetary health are closely related. To have healthy people, we need a healthy planet, but equally we have reached a point in human development where to have a healthy planet requires healthy humans. 

The solution to both goes beyond conventional healthcare. 

It means that we, as a society and species, must learn to consume less. We must embrace a simpler way of living, where we want less, we buy less, we chase experiences less, we fly less, and we reconnect with the simple things. Failure to do so leads to the unrelenting persistence of chronic physical and mental health conditions.  Connection with family and friends, time in nature, healthy eating, physical activity, sleep, mindfulness, and finding purpose in life.. These are the foundations of true healthcare, and planetary care. 

We believe that the public respects and trusts healthcare. What we say has a huge influence. If we can shift the focus and the narrative from heroic last ditch 'disease-care', to true pre-emptive healthcare, then people will be happier and healthier, and the burden on overstretched GPs and hospitals will be much reduced. 

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What's our plan ?

The idea of a different way to approach healthcare is up against decades of expensive and clever campaigning by brands and corporations. They have been drip feeding ideas into us since birth; that we should eat unhealthy foods, drink more alcohol, smoke, compete with each other, hustle and grind, and that happiness will come only when we buy this or that. Social media has meant that this conditioning is now almost inescapable.

Behaviour change in a healthier direction requires a concerted campaign, to undo these learned patterns. The cornerstone of the GHP therefore is activism; campaigning and raising awareness, mostly through social media. We are up against the full force of corporate marketing and decades of conditioning to generations of humans.

One advantage we have is that we believe our message naturally resonates with people, because at its core, it speaks to who we naturally are. 

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What has Healthcare got to do with it?

Healthcare can overemphasise the importance of drugs and treatments at the expense of promoting true health.

We have become so disconnected from what is natural, that we often treat patients in windowless rooms, with no fresh air, no natural light, and no greenery, with only views of medical machinery amidst constant noise.

How can the spaces where patients come to heal so often look cold, hard, uninspiring and bleak?

These are also the spaces in which over a million NHS staff work, and disconnection from nature leads inevitably to our actions being at odds with nature. If global healthcare were a nation, it would be the 5th largest carbon emitter on the planet. We contribute tonnes of plastic waste and pollutants to the world, all insanely in the name of healthcare.

Behavioural change in Healthcare

As well as hospital Trusts' 'Green plans' to meet the NHS net zero pledge, we advocate a 'bottom up' front-line led approach.

  • Empowering health care workers to change the system 

  • Embedding consideration of the planet and sustainability into each hospital department, through its regular inclusion in clinical audit meetings

  • Promoting audit and service improvement projects relating to environmental impact

  • Encouraging departments to work with procurement teams, to find more sustainable solutions

  • Reducing consumption and waste

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Of 185 hospital staff that we surveyed:

  • 64% do not manage to get outside at all during working hours

  • 21% get out for only up to 15 minutes per shift

  • 78% get very little or no natural light

  • 89% feel being connected to nature (the natural world, greenery, sky, natural light, fresh air) is very important to their sense of well-being

  • Yet 79% feel not at all connected to nature at work

  • 60% felt something as simple as more potted plants at work would help

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The foundations of true health

Healthcare is inordinately energy intense. It requires huge amounts of energy and materials to treat patients, from syringes and bags of saline, to drugs and operations. While we must make the provision of healthcare leaner, and for example switch from disposable items to reusables, the greenest healthcare is that which does not need to be provided.

Much of what we treat in healthcare is not inevitable. It is the result of how we live. Some of these are voluntary choices, such as smoking, excessive alcohol and unhealthy eating. Others are involuntary; poverty, air pollution, loneliness, stress. We could address these, as a society, if we choose to, and live happier healthier lives, and reduce the burden on healthcare services. It makes no sense not to. For those of us in healthcare, we must campaign for changes to address the precursors of poor health, rather than wait to treat the consequences of them.

The true foundations of health are simple and free

  • Sufficient good quality sleep

  • Regular physical activity

  • Healthy diets of plant-based whole foods, periods of fasting and irregular eating rather than constant satiety

  • Close connections to family and friends

  • Time spent in nature

  • A sense of purpose, and a lifestyle aligned with one’s values

  • ‘Slowing down’ for periods through practices of meditation, conscious breathing, yoga and gratitude

Of course, for some, this is difficult. Perhaps the most important element to health lies in the phrase “it is not the load that breaks you, but how you carry it”. Modern life is full of ‘micro-stresses’ that take their toll, unless we can cultivate habits and practices such as those above to inure ourselves.

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If this makes sense to you and you'd like to get involved, please get in touch. We welcome everyone, especially those who work or have skills in design, campaigning, video production, and the media

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Do you work in a clinical space and want to join our collaborative?

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You ask for a poem.
I offer you a blade of grass.
You say it is not good enough.
You ask for a poem.

I say this blade of grass will do.
It has dressed itself in frost,
It is more immediate
Than any image of my making.

You say it is not a poem,
It is a blade of grass and grass
Is not quite good enough.
I offer you a blade of grass.

You are indignant.
You say it is too easy to offer grass.
It is absurd.
Anyone can offer a blade of grass.

You ask for a poem.
And so I write you a tragedy about
How a blade of grass
Becomes more and more difficult to offer,

And about how as you grow older
A blade of grass
Becomes more difficult to accept.

Brian Patten

A Blade of Grass

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"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does"

William James

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“Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do”


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