A (green) weight off our knees.

Thirteen-point-three kilograms. More weight than you’d want to be schlepping around unnecessarily, but not an awe inspiring number. Even less inspiring when, as a recent article revealed, it’s the average amount of waste produced during a total knee replacement surgery…a small price to pay for the ability to be able to schlep stuff around pain free.

But wait…multiply that by all the total knee replacements done in Canada each year and suddenly you have over 335,000 kilograms of waste…now you have my attention.

Fortunately, the same group that weighed in on this study is helping reduce the amount of waste generated in the operating room though Operation Green. Started by students in the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry in London, Ontario, Operation Green collects items that have been prepared for surgery but remain unused at the end of the procedure; in the past where these items, such as gloves and sutures, have been discarded, they are now packaged and sent to developing and resource poor regions.

Even better, the work of the Operation Green volunteers (yes, these are med students taking the time from their busy schooling to volunteer) is spreading and we are thrilled to have our very own Operation Green team of University of Toronto med students at work at UHN. With several shipments already sent from Toronto Western Hospital, and Kim, Alison and Sheron turning their focus to the Toronto General and Princess Margaret Hospitals, it’s another great example of how greening helps more than the environment…not to mention, a weight off our shoulders (and knees).

2 thoughts on “A (green) weight off our knees.

  1. Sorry, but I have a concern with this. Is not possible to reuse it here? If not, because of infection control reasons, is it appropriate to send it somewhere else? We also have to keep in mind the cost of sending it overseas, monetary and in greenhouse gases.


  2. Hi Marlene,

    You’re right that donating materials can be a tricky business, which is what makes the work of groups like Operation Green all the more important. Many of the materials collected come in pre-set “packs” of supplies; at the end of the procedure, while removed from the pack, the supplies are often still in their packaging and have not come into contact with, or near, patients or staff participating in the procedure.

    As you point out, shipping materials should also be taken into account, as well as trying to be sure that shipped materials are used appropriately at their destination. We often work with groups that send staff overseas to provide medical assistance, including disaster relief, throughout the world. These groups will ensure that the collected materials are suitable before shipping them overseas or sending them with staff travelling to provide care.



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