By John Drigot
I remember recently going home after my first day of work as the new sustainability coordinator for Poudre Valley Hospital, Medical Center of the Rockies and other University of Colorado Health services in northern Colorado.
My overarching goal in this position is to lead the employees and organization in becoming better environmental stewards.
I felt a little like a hummingbird featured in a story told by Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmental and political activist:
“We’re constantly being bombarded by problems that we face and sometimes we can get completely overwhelmed. [But] we should always feel like a hummingbird. I may feel insignificant, but I don’t want to be like the other animals watching the planet go down the drain. I’ll be a hummingbird, I’ll do the best I can.”
After my first work day, the magnitude of the task-at-hand felt daunting. UCHealth has 5,500 employees and major medical facilities spread throughout Fort Collins, Greeley, Loveland and Windsor.
Instead of saying “we are too small” or “there is too much to change,” I decided to see employees throughout the organization as “doing the best they can.”
When Garrison Keillor says, “Be well, do good work and stay in touch,” why is it so important to “be well”? Could it be that taking care of one’s self correlates with the idea of environmental stewardship? I think so.
I stumbled upon the concept of “Green Health” when I found the article “The Greening of Health: The Convergence of Health and Sustainability” put out by the Institute for the Future. The article explains Green Health as:
“The convergence of health and sustainability plays out in many ways. Scientifically, Green Health embodies the epidemiological connections between human health and the environment.”
“Culturally, it represents the understanding of nature as a powerful binding force between people, their health and the world in which they live. Socially, Green Health occurs at a nexus of morally-laden decisions about living in the world as patients, workers, consumers and citizens.”
Yes, not only are sustainability and wellness holding hands, they are hanging onto each other for dear life.
The connection between sustainability and wellness is, simply, if you care about yourself, you are more likely to care about the environment you use in your day-to-day wellness activities.
It’s good knowledge and a commendable lesson for all of us, the hummingbirds.
John Drigot, John.Drigot@UCHealth.org, is the sustainability coordinator for University of Colorado Health in northern Colorado.