A timely reminder

As the UK records its hottest day ever, we all hold responsibility for a sustainable future

blue sky

As we are all very aware, the UK registered its hottest day on record this week… three times.

Tuesday unfolded like this: first, the leafy village of Charlwood in Surrey reached a sweaty 39.1 degrees. And then, a blistering 40.2 degrees was recorded at the concrete jungle of Heathrow Airport just before 1pm.

As the country soaked the heat into its pores, at 4pm the record was broken again, when Coningsby in Lincolnshire registered 40.3 degrees. 

It was hot. Significantly hotter than 1976, for anyone gleefully pointing out that we have dealt with heat before. Later, London Fire Service would record its busiest day since WW2. 

Let’s sit with that, in our sticky living rooms next to our futile Argos fans, for a while. There haven’t been this many fires in London since literal bombs were raining down upon on us.

Still, as in the midst of a war, the day-to-day routine went on as much as it could. As fires raged in ten different areas of London and the railways melted and we grew increasingly worried about the bees, the OT team was busy putting the finishing touches to the August/September edition – themed, appropriately, around sustainability.

From our perspective, the edition couldn’t be falling at a better time.

Inside, we speak to optometrists from across the country about how they’re incorporating sustainability as a long-term strategy for their practice, and how the industry needs to work together on this most pressing of issues.

We also discuss the benefits of the Johnson & Johnson Vision contact lens recycling scheme, look ahead to the new sustainability goals that are being rolled out at ExCel London in time for 100% Optical 2023, and consider how eye care can prioritise sustainability within a secondary care setting.

We’re also profiling brands that put the environment at the forefront, including Cornwall-based Waterhaul, which uses discarded fishing nets to create its eco-conscious frames. If you’re looking for an earth-friendly restock, brands like these are a good place to start.

At 100% Optical this April, sustainability was an issue that was very much at the forefront. Appreciating that incorporating sustainable practices might seem impossible in a busy practice, with limited resources and a full diary of appointments booked in, OT took note of the things that optometrists might be able to do right now, at low cost, or at no cost at all.

Here are just a few things that you might want to consider…

  • Giving all staff (and maybe even patients) a refillable metal water bottle or coffee cup (this comes with the added benefit of being an easy marketing opportunity)
  • Creating a briefing sheet for locums on recycling, waste management, or other sustainable practices that you have in place
  • Adding plants to your practice to purify the air
  • Asking your suppliers if they can cut down on packaging, whether plastic or cardboard, and explaining to them why this is important to you
  • Sharing your sustainability wins and changes on social (feeling free to tag OT) – people love sharing a positive story, after all
  • Encouraging patients to reuse glasses cases instead of buying new ones
  • Looking into options for insulating your practice like you might your home’s loft
  • Reminding staff to switch off lights and unplug equipment, if possible, at the end of the day
  • Thinking about creating a carshare or cycle to work scheme
  • Considering whether you can increase paperless activity, for example emailing receipts
  • Buying solid soap, rather than that in a plastic container
  • Asking your refuse collectors how waste needs to be separated in order to guarantee that it will be recycled
  • If you have a carpark, asking your local council for an electric car charging point
  • Signing up to a contact lens recycling scheme.

If you have any other initiatives, we’d love to hear about them – please do email [email protected] and let us know.

NB: all your editions of OT are fully recyclable, if that’s something that you’re rightly concerned about.

The main takeaways that we have from putting together this edition? That the smallest of changes can have a big impact. That where some lead, for example in putting pressure on suppliers, others will follow. And that no one should worry about other practices doing more – if we’re all working towards the same goal, we’re already on a positive journey towards a more environmentally conscious future.

OT’s sustainability themed August/September edition will be landing on doormats from 13 August.

OT  asks...

Are you taking proactive measures to increase sustainability within your optical practice?

  • Yes

    2 33%
  • No

    2 33%
  • Not currently, but I plan to

    0 0%
  • I don’t work in practice

    2 33%