The health of our environment is directly related to human health. Air and water pollution and inferior food quality lead to health problems such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and cancer. Climate changes due to ozone depletion increase the risk of infection and diseases spread through water and food.
Nurses have a deep understanding of the effect our environment has on our health. They are also in a position to advocate for healthier practices, such as cleaner air and restricting pesticides.
Nurses can also be careful in their own work to use less toxic products which can be reused and recycled, and waste as little as possible. Of course, due to health considerations, many items in use in health care can not be reused or recycled. But a nursing facility can take care to recycle these materials:
• Corrugated cardboard
• Steel cans
• Bottles, cans and jars
Another way that geriatric nurses can help protect the environment is by involving the residents of the nursing facility in a recycling program. This can be done by setting up a central location where items slated for recycling can easily be collected. Mobile residents can bring their items to the bin themselves, while bedridden patients can have this done for them. Residents can be educated on the importance of recycling and which materials can be recycled. Family members and visitors can also be encouraged to recycle drink containers and papers that they bring with them.
Earth Day only comes once a year, but protecting the environment is a 365 day a year project. When we deplete our natural resources and pollute the earth, we also damage our health and that of more vulnerable populations, especially the elderly. Earth Day provides us with a reminder of the importance improving the state of the environment in our homes and in nursing facilities.