Texas A&M University 'Green Vets' student group
Here at Texas A&M University, sustainability has begun to be a topic of interest. As veterinary students, many of us have spent much of our lives caring for animals and taking into consideration the habitats in which they live. However, more recently many of us have started to notice the massive amount of waste produced in veterinary clinics. In our organisation, “Green Vets”, this is the most desired topic to discuss among veterinary students. Students want to see that veterinarians are conscious of their waste output and how they can mitigate it.
Unfortunately, sustainability is not covered in our classes, so students have taken it upon themselves to educate each other on what our role in sustainability is as veterinarians. On-campus organisations, such as Green Vets, help provide educational resources through meetings with leaders in sustainability and events encouraging sustainable living. The majority of these resources come from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), as we do not have any known organisations solely dedicated to sustainability in veterinary medicine. Additionally, we incorporate knowledge from human medical resources into our understanding of sustainability in healthcare.
On-campus organisations, such as Green Vets, help provide educational resources through meetings with leaders in sustainability and events encouraging sustainable living.
Throughout my personal experiences in many veterinary clinics, there has been quite a lack of interest in sustainability in most small animal practices, especially corporate practices. Most small animal practitioners favour single-use products due to convenience. However, many mixed animal practices, animal shelters, and wildlife rescues, tend to take a more sustainable approach to veterinary medicine. These entities favour reusable products, as they are more cost-effective. The concern here is that while more products are being reused in these areas of veterinary medicine, those products may not be as effectively disinfected prior to reuse. Syringes, endotracheal tubes, fluid bags, etc. have all been recycled, but are they being properly cleaned before being used for the next animal? There is certainly more research to be done about the safety of reusing such items and how these items might be sterilised for secondary use. However, the shift towards more reusable items does give hope for the future of broadening the scope of sustainability in veterinary medicine in the United States!