“Oftentimes hospitals and healthcare institutions are the largest producers of waste, largest users of energy, and consumers of water in their community,” said Inova Hospital’s Assistant Vice President of Sustainability and Wellness Seema Wadhwa.
After some extensive research, the Inova Health System has rolled out paper straws to replace plastic straws in its cafeterias. According to Wadhwa, before the switch Inova was using a mile of plastic straws every day.
Inova has made similar adjustments to its cafeteria in the past, like moving to paper coffee cups and wooden stirrers.
Over the summer, Inova compared paper straws’ durability and suction. Paper straws reportedly last through two and a half cocktails.
The change is part of the hospital’s “2018 JustOne Campaign,” an initiative to encourage the community to take small actions daily to protect the environment.
In 2017, Inova recycled 2 million pounds of material. “With that comes not just an environmental benefit but also an economic benefit and it’s also something that staff really enjoys. They really enjoy taking that effort and having a positive impact on the environment,” said Chip Goyette, Inova’s director of sustainability.
Patients are still using plastic straws; they’re bendable and easier to use for some. If a customer in the cafeteria is in need of a plastic straw, all they have to do is ask.
“Once this gets going, our goal is to really look at those other single use plastics,” said Goyette.
Inova has five hospitals and one campus in Northern Virginia.