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Indian Health Service The Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives

Environmental Sustainability

Going Green Tips

The numerals for the year 2015 pop out with green leaves. The zero is in the shape of a recycling sign. Every individual has a responsibility to do their part in caring for the environment. This year, resolve to make one simple change at home or at work. For example: Three bullets. (1) Bring reusable bags to the supermarket. Keep extras in your car, purse, or briefcase. (2) Wash your clothes in cold instead of hot/warm water. (3) Turn off lights when you leave a room or your desk/office for the day. For more ideas on how to Go Green in 2015, go to: 1-6-2015

Go Green in 2015

Fix Your Faucet! Two bullets: (1) A leaky faucet dripping at a rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year. That's the amount of water needed to take more than 180 showers! (2) To fix a leaky faucet: Check faucet washers and gaskets for wear, and replace them if necessary. To the right of the two bullets, an image of a drop of water about to fall from a leaky faucet. To learn more about how to fix your faucet, go to: 09-25-2014

Fix Your Faucet

Calculate your Carbon Footprint. Get a “ballpark” estimate of your personal or family’s greenhouse gas emissions. Explore the impact of taking various actions to reduce your emissions with EPA’s Carbon Footprint Calculator. Calculate your Carbon Footprint at: 07-22-2014

Carbon Footprint

Did you know? With spring approaching, be mindful of all garbage you find while spring cleaning! Used dryer sheets are not compostable because of the chemical s that they contain and  rarely can you recycle them. Instead of tossing them, use them as a lint brush for your clothes or as an anti-static wipe for all surfaces, such as your television or windshield. Before you throw away those old CD's, consider giving them a new life as coasters, clocks, dumbbells, or even a weather vane. CD's are not biodegradable and release toxins when incinerated. After cleaning out that pesky junk drawer, you happen to find yourself with a collection of homeless keys. Grab a piece of wood and turn those keys into a upcycled key rack. Use old pantyhose to hang and store your vegetables and flower bulbs to improve air circulation and prevent rotting. 03-04-2014

Spring Cleaning

Did you know? Store-bought flowers can have fifty times more pesticides on them than is legal to have on food. Look for flowers with the VeriFlora seal, an agricultural sustainability certification and eco-labeling program recognized as the gold-standard in the floriculture and horticulture industries. Give home-grown blooms if you can, or a potted plant will last much longer than that plastic-wrapped bouquet. Approximately one hundred fifty million Valentine's Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine's Day the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas. Consider making a card out of old magazines or wall calendars. Give a card made of plantable seed paper; bury it and when the paper biodegrades, the seeds grow into wildflowers. When choosing sweets for your sweetheart, look for brands that are organic, local, and shade-grown, and try to resist that frilly heart-shaped box with all those paper wrappings tucked into plastic that will inevitably end up in the landfill. 02-03-2014

Green VDay

Did you know? Heating equals about 25% of household utility bills and is a major contributor to a household's emissions footprint. We can't turn off the heat, but there are ways to help eliminate wasteful heating and maybe save a little money: Switch to a programmable thermostat so your heater isn't running when no one is home. Seal air leaks around your windows and doors with caulking, weather-stripping and door sweeps. Sometimes you don't need to warm all the rooms in your house. Use space heaters or radiators to warm the rooms you use and keep the doors closed to the unused rooms. Grab a blanket or put on a jumper! It is far easier and cheaper than reaching for the knob or switch of the heater. Let that precious sunshine in! On sunny winter days take advantage of this free heat and open up curtains and blinds to let that warmth in during the day. 01-02-2014

Green Winter

Did you know? There are many ways to GREEN your holiday season. Get in the holiday spirit by trying these new resolutions: Send tree-free holiday cards: Try e-cards! Don't buy wrapping paper: Use newspaper or other recycled paper instead. Consider the lifecycle of electronic gifts before you purchase: Do you really need that new phone? Recycle or reuse packaging from gifts: You can use this again next year. Turn off or unplug holiday lights during the day: Doing so will not only save energy, but will also help your lights last longer. Buy less junk: Follow the motto, Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without! Go to to put a stop to unwanted catalogs and junk mail: This saves paper, water, energy/gas and landfill space! Give those old toys to charity. 12-02-2013

Green Holiday

Did you know? At least 28 billion pounds of edible food is wasted each year - more than 100 pounds per person! One of the best ways to reduce your waste this Thanksgiving is to plan ahead for the meal and practice portion control. Below is a useful list of approximate per person food portions: Turkey- 1 pound Stuffing- ¼ pound Sweet potato casserole- ¼ pound Green beans- ¼ pound Cranberry relish- 3 tablespoons Pumpkin pie- 1/8 of a 9 inch pie AND-Don't forget your tupperware and reusable containers for those leftovers! 11-01-2013

Thanksgiving Tips

Did you know? October is Energy Awareness Month! Empower Leadership One individual can empower collaboration and teamwork that can spark change and result in sustainable solutions. Empower coworkers, administrators, and entire organizations to lead by example, build momentum, and make a difference. Empower Innovation Innovative thinking can guide sustainability plans, generate new best practices, and accelerate the deployment of clean energy technologies. Empower others to think creatively and harness the power of people and technology. Empower Excellence Leverage resources and maximize opportunities to move beyond business as usual and raise the bar for operational excellence and a secure energy future. 10-03-2013

Energy Awareness Month

Did you know? Clean clothes come at cost: at five pounds of CO2 emitted per wash/dry cycle, the emissions add up fast. Here are some ways to reduce your laundry's footprint: Outer layers (like sweaters and jackets) and middle layers don't touch the skin and can usually be worn more than once.  For items that aren't worn long, a quick ironing to remove wrinkles is a good substitute for a full wash cycle. Wash one full load instead of two small ones. If you don't have a full load, wait until you do. Use cold water. Hot water accounts for 90 % of the energy used by washers and cold water is usually just as effective. Note: it's still a good idea to use hot water on sheets and bedding to help remove allergens. Ensure your washer and dryer are as energy and water efficient as possible, such as ENERGY STAR certified. 09-04-2013

Green Laundry Habits

Did you know? That as of 2013, 112,000 deaths are attributed to obesity per year. Obesity costs us more than $152 billion per year in direct medical costs! Here are some easy ways to be eat better and save money: Buy pastas, beans, nuts, cereals and more in the bulk food aisle. These items create less waste and cost less than packaged goods, just don't forget to bring bags! Cook double! Make extra lasagnas, pizzas, etc. and freeze them to save time later and ensure your ingredients don't go to waste. Serve smaller amounts with the understanding that people can come back for more. Children especially have a hard time estimating how much they can eat. 08-06-2013

Sustainable Eating Habits

Purchasing Energy Star rated appliances can save an average of 30% on your power bill! Some simple tips can help you save energy and water and increase a product's lifespan: Check and clean your refrigerator and stove seals occasionally to assure a tight fit One larger fridge is cheaper and more efficient than two smaller ones A fully-loaded, energy-efficient dishwasher cleans better and has lower environmental impact than hand washing 90% of a washing machine's energy usage goes to heating the water, switch to a cold rinse Unplug infrequently-used appliances which continue to draw power when off (phantom power) Energy Star rates electronics' and appliances' energy efficiency: EPEAT rates a product's materials, design, production and recyclability: Find the most energy-efficient products listed at MetaEfficient: 07-02-2013

Energy Efficient Appliances

Did you know? It's easy to make homemade cleaning products. Instead of using harsh chemical or petroleum based cleaners this year, use the recipes below for homemade cleaners using natural ingredients: All-purpose cleaner - Equal parts vinegar and water and a few drops of lemon juice. Put into a spray bottle and use for almost all of your cleaning. Carpet deodorizer- For general cleaning on light colored rugs, sprinkle baking soda before you vacuum. For stains, mix equal parts borax or baking soda, salt, and white vinegar. Apply the paste to the stain and let dry, then vacuum. Toilet - Mix a quarter of a cup of baking soda with one cup of vinegar. Pour the liquid into the basin and let sit for a few minutes. Scrub and flush. Moldy grout remover -Mix a half a cup of hydrogen peroxide with one cup of water in a spray bottle. Spray it on the moldy area. Let it sit for 1 hour and rinse. If you're short on time or ingredients, look for less-toxic more environmentally-friendly cleaning products that have received the Green Seal Certification. 06-04-2013

Homemade Cleaning Products

Did you know? There are currently 9,000 designated biobased products in 89 different categories available for preferred Federal purchasing. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a BioPreferred program. The BioPreferred program was created by the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 and expanded by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008. In addition, Presidential Executive Order 13514, Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance, mandates the purchasing of biobased products. More information at: 05-07-2013

BioBased Products

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect Chief Seattle, 1854 As stewards of our local ecosystems, we are all responsible for making choices and taking actions that sustain or improve the environment. The direct and indirect connections between human health and the environment were understood in Indian Country long before science established the links empirically. Small actions taken by many individuals can lead to huge impacts at the community, national, and global level. Please help us celebrate Earth Day 2013 by visiting the Environmental Protection Agency's Earth Day website for information on how you can take action to help preserve and improve the environment. To learn how IHS is helping to sustain and improve the environment, visit the IHS sustainability website ( 04-23-2013

Earth Day

Did you know? The first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.  Learn more at: OPDIVs will host their celebrations and additional activities, on different days throughout the month. Plan your own Earth Day event! Visit: 04-02-2013

Earth Day

Did you know? Artificial lighting accounts for 20-50% of the electricity use in office buildings.  Making green choices when it comes to lighting not only provides energy efficiency and savings, it also adds to the comfort and ambience of your workplace. Replace regular incandescent bulbs and fixtures to energy efficient light bulbs (i.e. Energy Star-rated compact fluorescent lights) - even in the lamps on your desk.  Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) are more expensive than regular bulbs, but use 60-80% less energy, last much longer (5,000-14,000 hours longer), and cast a warmer, soft white glow. Use task lighting. Install dimmers and timers to extend bulb life. Make sure to turn off the lights when leaving any room for 15 minutes or more. Use natural daylight when possible.  It's free and has been proven to improve worker productivity, plus your daily dose of Vitamin D! 03-05-2013

See the Light

Did you know? Reducing water consumption is not only good for the environment, it's good for your utility bill too! Check faucets and pipes for leaks, small drips can waste 20 gallons of water per day and large leaks can waste hundreds of gallons! One way to detect a leak is to put food coloring in your toilet tank, and if you see it in the bowl after a few minutes then you have a leak. Also consider replacing toilets and washing machines with new water-efficient models, such as those from Energy Star or WaterSense. The long-term savings will more than offset the increased price-for instance, a low-flow showerhead can slash bathing-water consumption 50 to 70 percent. 02-05-2013

Save Water, Save Money

Did you know? Manufacturing, distribution and disposal of goods and materials is responsible for 43% of US greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.S. EPA. Green purchasing can help significantly reduce these emissions by preferring recycled and reused materials. You can help by considering the following questions before making purchasing decisions for your office supplies: 1) Is it hazardous? 2)Is it reusable or more durable? 3) Is it made from recycled materials?  If not, do I really need to buy a virgin product if the recycled version is just as good? 4) What happens to it at the end of its life?  Can it be recycled?  Will it need special disposal? 5) Does it conserve energy or water compared to other versions? 01-03-2013

Do Your Homework on Office Supplies

Did you know? In the US, we produce about 25% more waste during the holiday season (Thanksgiving to New Year), which equates to around 25 million tons of extra waste! Also, the average household energy use for lighting increases 130 kwhs during that time…that's equivalent to if every American household left an electric oven on for 2.5 days! So remember to REDUCE your energy usage and waste output this season. One easy thing you can do is reuse your used gift bags:  Cut them up to make gift tags for holidays, birthdays and other occasions. Scrunch-up a gift bag for excellent packing material. Gift bags are a heavier-weight paper so it will hold its shape a lot better, making it a good option for packing/shipping. Use a large gift bag to make a book cover for school textbooks. Add them to the kids' craft bin for future arts and crafts projects. 12-04-2012

Reduce Holiday Waste

Here are some easy ways to be more sustainable, and save money! 1. Buy pastas, beans, nuts, cereals and more in the bulk food aisle. These items create less waste and cost less than packaged goods, just don't forget to bring bags. 2. Cook double! Make extra lasagnas, pizzas, etc. and freeze them to save time later and ensure your ingredients don't go to waste. 3. Serve smaller amounts with the understanding that people can come back for more. Children especially have a hard time estimating how much they can eat. 11-05-2012

Sustainable Cooking

Did you know?  Elevators account for about 5% of a building's electricity use.  By taking the stairs instead of an elevator, you are helping to reduce green house gas emissions and the costs of operating your facility.  There are also several health benefits associated with taking the stairs.  These benefits include: ;Burns more calories than walking on flat surfaces; Improves your fitness and stamina; Boosts your spirits; and Saves you time because it allows you to exercise while doing your daily work activities. Burn calories, not electricity.  Take the stairs today! 09-18-2012

Take the Stairs

Did you know?  Chemicals are used every day in health care facilities to protect and safeguard the health of patients and staff.  Chemicals are used primarily to sterilize and disinfect surfaces and equipment, thereby preventing the transmission of harmful bacteria, viruses, and other biological agents and pollutants.  Although these chemicals are designed to help us, many of them are also toxic and could negatively affect our health and the natural environment if managed or disposed of inappropriately.  Simple ways to improve handling and management of toxic chemicals include:  choosing less toxic chemicals; not using more than what is recommended by the manufacturer; using protective equipment such as gloves and face masks; and educating staff on proper uses and disposal techniques. 09-12-2012

Chemical Management in Health Care Facilities

Did you know?  These easy tricks will reduce your gasoline usage:  Keep tires properly inflated and wheels aligned; Roof racks and air conditioning decrease engine efficiency; Drive more slowly. There is a 20 percent loss in fuel economy when cruising speed is increased from 55 to 75 mph; Use cruise control on highway trips; Avoid rapid acceleration, hard braking, and sudden stops; Remove extra weight from the car; 100 extra pounds can reduce fuel usage by one mile per gallon.  By reducing your fuel consumption, you will save money and decrease air pollution. 09-04-2012

Fuel Efficiency

Did you know?  Tap water is tested more often and held to higher safety standards than bottled water.  On average, it takes around 2,000 times more energy and costs 10,000 times more to produce bottled water than tap water in the U.S.  Using a reusable water bottle to drink tap water is a great way to help the environment and reduce waste.  Reusable water bottles are made from a variety of materials including metal, glass, and specific types of plastic.  Each one has its advantages and disadvantages.  The links listed below are available to help you choose a reusable water bottle that fits your needs. Stop adding to the 30 million water bottles that end up in landfills or the ocean each day and get a reusable water bottle today! 08-27-2012

Bottled Water

Did you know?  Energy efficient buildings have significantly lower operating and maintenance costs and lower rates of indoor air pollution.  The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) Division of Environmental Health and Engineering (DEHE) developed two programs to promote sustainability. DEHE has been working to reduce water energy use by 50 percent. They have also implemented heat recovery conservation projects in four diesel power plants and are on track to finish eight more.  Congratulations to the ANTHC DEHE for their innovation and hard work. For their effort they won a 2011 HHS Green Champions Award in the Change Agents category! 08-20-2012

ANTHC Energy Efficiency

Did you know?  ENERGY STAR certified buildings use 35 percent less energy and cost 50 cents less per square foot to operate than average buildings?  The Blackfeet Community Hospital in Browning, Montana, received the EPA's ENERGY STAR Certification for the second year in a row.  This would not have been possible without the hard work of the Blackfeet Community Hospital maintenance staff.  For their effort they won a 2011 HHS Green Champions Award in the Energy & Fleet Management category!  Energy efficiency is the fastest, cheapest, and greatest unused resource for saving energy and preventing greenhouse gas emissions. 08-07-2012

Energy Efficiency

Did you know?  Medical centers are the second-largest waste producers in the United States after the food industry.  A successful hospital recycling program can lead to a wide range of benefits, which include reduced operational costs, increased worker safety, and enhanced community relations.  Congratulations to Kia Mudge and her colleagues at the Santa Fe Indian Hospital for receiving an honorable mention from the 2011 HHS Green Champions Awards Committee for their Hospital Recycling Program.  Help improve our environment and start a recycling program in your office or health care facility today! 07-30-2012

Hospital Recycling Program

Did you know?  If every federal employee shut off their office equipment every weekend a year the federal government would save $40 million.  Our office machines keep working long after we leave for the day. This leads to unnecessary energy consumption and increased environmental pollution. In 2010, the IHS Headquarters User Support Team encouraged employees to join PowerIT Down Day one weekend in April. About 10 percent more people participated, leading to total HHS energy savings of 96,156 kWh.  Congratulations to the IHS Headquarters IT User Support Team for winning the 2011 HHS Green Champions Electronic Stewardship Award for Power IT Down Day! Help the environment! Power down your computer, monitor, printer, and cell phone charger when you leave your workstation each day. 7-23-2012

Power Down Electronics

Did you know?  The average office worker in the U.S. prints 10,000 sheets of paper each year. This is equal to two boxes of paper.  Printing double-sided can reduce paper consumption costs by nearly 50% and prevent unnecessary deforestation.  Producing paper requires the use of many different resources, including water, trees, and energy.  By reducing our use of paper, we can help improve the environment and cut costs.  Reduce your carbon footprint and adopt double-sided printing today! 07-17-2012

Double-Sided Printing

Did you know? Some Cleaning Products Can Dirty the Environment. Many household cleaners contain toxic ingredients such as phosphorus, phthalates, and nitrogen. You can make your own cleaning products by mixing simple ingredients such as white vinegar, baking soda, borax, or vegetable soap with water. Using non-toxic cleaners improves indoor air quality, reduces chemical exposure, and introduces fewer toxins into the environment. Natural and homemade cleaners are also less expensive. Consider buying or making environmentally friendly household cleaners today! 07-11-2012

Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Products

Did you know? Hospitals spend $1.67 on electricity and 48 cents on natural gas per square foot annually.  That's $215,000 a year for a 100,000 square foot facility.  To prevent health care costs from rising, and help the environment, it is in our nation's interest to find ways to reduce energy consumption in our hospitals and clinics. The IHS Oklahoma City Area Office has designed an energy-saving boiler at the Lawton Indian Hospital in Lawton, Oklahoma.  The project at Lawton Indian Hospital reduced natural gas consumption by 37% and decreased maintenance time and costs by 50%, which saved the hospital $27,338 over the past year. Congratulations to CDR Hugo Gonzalez for Receiving the 2011 HHS Energy and Fleet Management Green Champion Award! 06-26-2012

Reducing Energy Consumption in Hospitals and Clinics

Did you know? Reducing your consumption of meat and animal products is beneficial to the environment. Raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined. Thirty percent of the earth's entire land surface-70 percent of all agricultural land-is used for rearing farm animals. Twenty percent of the world's grazing land has already been designated as degraded due to the rearing of animals for their meat. Widespread cultivation of the land ruins animals' natural habitat, and millions of animals are dislocated each year, causing long- term harm to our wildlife. Eating meatless meals a few days a week reduces the amount of land, water, and fossil fuel resources used. 06-18-2012

Meatless Meal Options

Did you know?  Carpooling with just one friend/coworker could save each of you around $650 a year on gas.  In April of 2011, a group of pharmacists at the IHS Colorado River Service Unit (CRSU) initiated a carpool project in response to rising gas prices and increased traffic in their area.  Since the projects' inception, the team's personal carbon emissions, gas consumption, and breakdowns have decreased by 66 percent!!!  Congratulations to the CRSU Pharmacy Carpool Project for Receiving the 2011 HHS Corporate Responsibility Award.  Save money and the environment. Start a carpool program today! 06-14-2012


Did you know..  Health care facilities in the U.S. produce nearly 7,000 tons of waste every day - that's roughly 25 pounds per patient per day.  The cost of disposal for the health care industry reached $10 billion last year.  Adopting one or more of the suggestions below will help reduce overhead costs and the environmental footprint of health care facilities: Share magazines and journals between departments to reduce multiple subscriptions; Set up an area for employees to share gently used items such as binders, folders, containers, etc; Reprocess medical devices, such as ophthalmic knives and orthopedic blades, as well as operating-room equipment, such as ultrasonic scalpels, all of which are typically discarded after one use; Invest in reusable sharps containers, which can be refilled many times, drastically cutting back on container disposal; Purchase reusable items, such as a glass, metal and fabric, versus single-use items. 06-04-2012

Reducing Medical Waste

Did you know?  Junk mail is everywhere. Every year in the United States:  creating and shipping junk mail produces more greenhouse gas emissions than 9 million cars; more than 100 million trees are destroyed to produce it; and we spend 70 hours managing our junk mail. 05-29-2012

Junk Mail

Did you know?  In 2010, nearly 18% of total electricity use was attributed to residential and commercial lighting.  One easy and cost effective way to cut down on electricity usage is by shifting to task lighting at work.  Task Lighting is any localized light source in a person's work area directed on some activity or Task.  Task lighting significantly reduces overall lighting demands by effectively putting the light where it is needed - on the individual's desk.  Tasking lighting is an easy and effective way to decrease your personal carbon footprint.  Go Green and adopt task lighting at work today! 05-22-2012

Task Lighting

Did you know Indoor air is more polluted than outdoor air. Carpet, paint, particle board, detergents, printer inks, and other household items all release chemicals. Houseplants filter the air and remove toxins. Five top air cleaning plants are: Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily) - Chlorophytum comosum (Spider Plant) - Epipremnum aureum (Devil's Ivy) - Syngonium podophyllum (Arrowhead Plant) - Hedera helix (English Ivy). Aim for 15 to 18 plants for an 1800 square foot living area. Pick up several all natural air purifiers today! 05-12-2012

Indoor Air Quality

Did you know? Friday May 18th is National Bike to Work Day.  Start your day off right with fresh air and exercise.  Save money on gas, parking, and car maintenance.  Get to work on time and have fun getting there.  Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and our dependence on oil.  Join thousands of your fellow commuters on May 18th and bike to work. 05-08-2012

Bike to Work Day 2012

Did you know? Each year an average American household receives six pounds worth of bills in the mail. While recycling all that paper is a good step, a greener option is to switch to paperless billing. Paperless billing (receiving statements electronically and paying bills online) reduces waste and cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions.  Paperless billing services are free and available through your bank and billing companies. 05-01-2012

Paperless Billing

Did you know? 100 billion individual disposable pieces of plastic silverware are used and thrown out each year worldwide. Avoid creating waste. Use reusable silverware and dish ware. 04-17-2012

Disposable Plastic Silverware

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