Health Check: The Miriam goes green

A hospital in Providence is making a priority of going green.

"A lot of our instruments are wrapped in recyclable metal containers, but some are wrapped in blue wrap and we create quite a large volume of this," said Monica Manooshian, an operating room nurse at The Miriam Hospital.

Blue wrap is a plastic No. 5, which means it takes many, many years for it to break down in our landfills. Up until last year, The Miriam was throwing away this bulky blue material.

"There's a lot of waste in hospitals across the country and across the world. Practice Green Health is an organization that we have partnered with, and their source says that hospitals produce 5.9 million tons of waste a year," said The Miriam's Monica Anderson.

That's roughly 33 pounds of hospital waste per staff bed each day sitting in our landfills. For the past several years, they've been recycling cardboard and saline and water bottles at The Miriam Hospital in Providence. Last year, it added the blue wrap to the list.

"They found a way to melt this down, make pellets out of it. They're doing things like making playground material so if kids fall, it's soft," Anderson said. "So, we've been able to say that in 2012 we successfully diverted 2,140 pounds of blue wrap from the Central Landfill in to a recycling program."

Manooshian, the operating room nurse, is also known as the Gentle Green Nag. She doesn't mind, as long as people throw the bulky blue wrap in to recycling bins.

"Personally, we get a lot of personal satisfaction knowing that we are keeping stuff out of the landfill," Manooshian said.

"Right now, Miriam seems to be the most active as far as changing things over, but our goal is to get all of the hospitals in Rhode Island to be just as interested in environmental sustainability as Miriam is," said Karen Dalton, of the Rhode Island Academy of Family Physicians.

The Miriam Hospital is hoping to get the community involved with its Blue Wrap Blue Jean Ball. The event is hosted by Hospitals for a Healthy Environment in Rhode Island, and you can pick up some of that blue wrap -- at no charge -- at one of several sites throughout the state and design an outfit and wear it. The ball is March 21.