valjakko © Lilli Pukka / WWF

Cleanliness hand in hand with environmental values

Hygiene is an absolute must in a vet’s clinic, but this doesn’t mean compromising environmental values. The amount of waste and the burden on the environment can be markedly reduced even through small steps.

At the Valjakko veterinarian clinic, the presence of Green Office is immediately noticed when you come in, since the lobby wall displays the Green Office diploma. When veterinarian Kaisa Murole begins to show around the premises, it’s clear that practically all the lobby furniture is either recycled or self-made. The same continues in the treatment rooms: supplies have been obtained from the Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS), neighbors have donated towels, and a huge lamp was found in the Army flea market. There’s chairs, tables, and a microwave; even the lobby desk has been built from kitchen renovation materials that one employee had as a left-over.

In addition, only environmentally friendly detergents and other supplies are used, all the paper used is FSC-certified, and the clinic uses green electricity. After seeing the Valjakko premises, it’s easy to say that everything possible has been sourced either through recycling, or from Finnish origins, and the environmental burden is kept to a minimum.

"Many people think that veterinary clinics or medical surgeries in general can’t use recycled or otherwise environmentally friendly materials, since everything must be sterile. Sterility is essential, but it’s not an obstacle. We are extremely careful with hygiene, but for us cleanliness and environmental values go hand in hand," Murole says. 

Reusable towels, not throwaways

Murole says that one of the industry's largest sources of environmental harm is disposable supplies.   According to her, it’s often thought that everything must be disposable in order to be hygienic. But Murole notes that in some situations, it is perfectly okay to use towels washed at 60 degrees instead of disposable towels.

Valjakko is rigorous when it comes to the use of materials, and everything possible is recycled: metals, plastics, organic waste, glass, cartons, cardboard, paper, hazardous waste, and sharp items.

For its customers, Valjakko’s environmental awareness is a very important thing. For some, the fact that the animal clinic is part of the Green Office network means so much that pets have been brought there from considerable distances, not just from local areas.

Reducing ecological pawprints

Valjakko’s employees hold a cleaning day every May, joining customers in collecting garbage and dog waste in the nearby area. And just like everything else in Valjakko, things collected from the ground on cleaning day are recycled. Year after year, more and more eager customers get involved.

"We had a competition for our customers, looking for the best tips on how to reduce the ecological footprint of pets. We published these tips on our Facebook page, so other people could benefit from the experience too," says Murole.

The clinic’s employees are also motivated by and interested in environmental matters. According to Murole, the measures that are part of the Green Office programme have become a key part of everyday working life in the clinic.

"Being a Green Office has not been difficult – far from it. Developing our activities in a more environmentally conscious direction has been very pleasant. We have also received good tips from the network," says Murole.

One such hint applies to rechargeable batteries, and goes something like this: Keep two boxes side by side, with one marked for charged batteries and another for dead batteries. Put the batteries in the charger, but if this is not possible, then put them in the correct box. That way everyone knows which batteries are charged. A simple tip, for sure, but it is a big help in everyday office life.

For Murole, this is what Green Office is all about: easily implemented, concrete measures, that combined have a big impact.

Check out more Green Office experiences.

If you’re interested in Green Office, please contact Helka Julkunen, Head of Green Office programme: helka.julkunen@wwf.fi or +358 40 531 0555.

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