One nurse has a mission to tackle plastic waste from the ocean to the ward

Staff Nurse Sabrina Carter tells us how scuba diving inspired her to take part in Dare to Care…

One nurse has a mission to tackle plastic waste from the ocean to the ward

Seeing the opportunity to create a greener NHS

Sabrina Carter is a Staff Nurse on Regency Ward at Mill View Hospital; after a year in the role she feels as passionate as she did when she started.

Sabrina says “It’s a privilege to use both my heart and mind to help support and be there for people in times of acute mental distress in a wide variety of complex situations. No two days are the same and there is always something new to learn from the people that make up our service community.”

When Care Without Carbon asked for people to volunteer to support the Dare to Care programme Sabrina jumped at the chance, even coming in before her shift started to take part in the photo shoot.

She explains, “I’m becoming more aware of the waste that’s created in such a short space of time on our wards, day-in day-out. It wasn’t until a conversation with one of our service-users regarding the number of plastic cups that were being thrown away after single use during a medication round that I fully realised the extent of the issue. After a couple of Google searches with the key words ‘sustainable healthcare NHS’ and an email invitation from the Care Without Carbon team, it didn’t take much to get me on board!”

Choosing a dare

She’s the staff face on the poster for the ‘one less car journey’ dare, which as a keen runner and cyclist made sense, but she’s also signing up for the ‘get on a bike’ and ‘switch it off’ dares. She added, “I may be partial to a regular cheeky hummus sandwich on Mondays to support ‘meat free Monday’ too.”

Sabrina tells us why the dares feel so meaningful, “In some ways I’m cheating by already cycling or walking to hospital – mainly because of economical and logistical reasons. But since considering the ‘Dare to Care’ campaign I’ve become a lot more appreciative of the environmental benefits that come with doing so. In the spirit of plurals however, I’ll be daring to “switch it off” too, because let’s face it, does the light and fan really need to stay on in the clinic when you’re not even there?”

When you consider more deeply some of the tasks we participate in everyday, there are many things we can do to minimise our footprint. We learn to promote and advocate for good health and wellbeing within our communities and I think sustainable behaviours can go hand-in hand in achieving this. Whether it’s through encouraging people to engage in more physical exercise, trying alternative diets or having more human face-to-face conversations, nursing and sustainability aren’t so far apart from one another as you might initially think!”

Bringing values from home into the workplace

Sabrina values greener choices at home as well as at work. After a visit to the Philippines, to pursue her love of scuba diving, the issue of plastics in the oceans really struck home.

“You could be diving 20m below the surface in some of the most beautiful places on this planet and still see turtles dodging miscellaneous Fanta cans.  I have become a lot more passionate in exploring ways to live a greener lifestyle, because let’s face it, we don’t own the planet.”

She’s keen to see Dare to Care work at Sussex Partnership and believes that many people who work for the Trust are on board with the idea of sustainability generally. She said, “I do believe having the ‘Dare to Care’ campaign gives us an all-important name for something that many of us are already starting to try and do in the workplace. Once people are aware of it and what it stands for, I think it will almost certainly help keep the momentum to make those small changes that don’t ask the world of you.”

A voice for change

When it comes to getting her colleagues on board, Sabrina is happy to spread the word. She explains “Well, I’d say ‘Just pick one, and see how it goes’. I think supporting each other, making it fun, and not giving each other a hard time if somebody has forgotten to switch the light off that one time on a late Thursday afternoon is the first step. After all, you’ve still managed to save some precious electricity from all the other times you remembered to flick the switch so let’s not forget about that!”

Dare to Care refreshes dares periodically, and Sabrina would like to see a dare around ‘take your mug’ or ‘take in a bottle’ to reduce the use of plastic cups.

“Polystyrene cups have proven to be a bit of a stubborn menace on the ward given the ease of having that all-important portable caffeine-fix.”

Ultimately she would like to see Dare to Care help shift attitudes to thinking more sustainably, and then behaviour change would naturally follow. Sabrina concludes, “If we can get as many people on the first step of the ladder feeling positive and enthusiastic about making our NHS greener then no doubt that’s a great place to start.”

Sign up for your dare(s) here to help Sabrina in creating a greener NHS.