Creating an Eco-Friendly Veterinary Clinic: Steps to a Sustainable Practice

By Molly Daphne

As The Great Big Green Week begins, vets and practices across the UK have an ideal opportunity to reflect on their environmental impact and explore ways to become more sustainable. 

We're not talking about becoming carbon neutral in just seven days because, of course, we know that's not possible, and we're also not just suggesting spending lots of money to go green. However, we can all make a difference, whether we're talking small shuffles or massive strides forward, and if there is ever a time to take that first step, it's now. 

So, we've put together this short guide to help walk you through some steps you can take to start your journey towards a more sustainable veterinary practice, including energy-efficient solutions, waste reduction strategies and achieving green certifications. 

The Importance of Sustainability in Veterinary Practic 

In today's fast-changing world, the need for sustainability has never been more urgent. The health of our planet is on the news every day, and rightly so! With issues like climate change, pollution, and dwindling resources on everyone's radar, it's clear that every industry, including veterinary care, must step up. It's time to listen. 

As vets, this should be a priority for us. Our passion is helping animals thrive and developing innovative ways to do so. By adopting sustainable practices, we're not just caring for our furry patients – we're safeguarding their homes and habitats for generations to come. 

But sustainability isn't just about saving the planet; it's about protecting our health, too. 

Think about it: the air we breathe, the water we drink – it's all interconnected. Pollution and climate change aren't just problems for the environment; they're threats to public health, affecting animals and humans alike. 

The Benefits of an Eco-Friendly Approach 

Believe it or not, when we talk about a sustainable approach to veterinary practice, we're not just talking about protecting the planet. In today's world, sustainability is more than just a love for the environment; it's a tool to boost your clinic's bottom line. 

Let's talk numbers for a second. 

By simply investing in energy-efficient lighting, you could see your energy bills plummet by 75%, and smart waste management strategies can cut disposal costs in half. 

Then, if we put money aside for a second, eco-friendly businesses are far ahead in terms of reputation and respect compared to their competitors. 

When it comes to who they show their loyalty to, consumers are more likely to choose and stay with a business that shares their values. 

You're probably asking then; how many consumers actually care about the planet? The answer – a lot. 

A Nielsen survey found that a whopping 81% of global consumers feel strongly that businesses should do what they can to protect the planet. 

So, what can you do? 

Practical Steps to a Sustainable Practice 

  • Switch to LED Lighting 

One of the simplest and most effective ways to reduce energy consumption in your clinic is to switch to LED lighting. LEDs use up to 75% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and last up to 25 times longer. This reduces energy bills and bulb replacement frequency, reducing waste. 

  • Install Programmable Thermostats 

Programmable thermostats can optimise heating and cooling schedules, ensuring energy is not wasted when the clinic is unoccupied.  

According to the UK's Energy Saving Trust, a programmable thermostat can save up to £75 a year on energy bills. Setting the thermostat to automatically lower the temperature during off-hours can significantly reduce energy use. 

  • Implement a Recycling Programme 

Setting up a recycling programme is a fundamental step in reducing waste. Ensure that clearly labelled bins are available for different types of recyclables, such as paper, plastics, metals, and glass. Train staff on proper recycling practices and the importance of reducing contamination in recycling streams. Recycle Now says recycling one ton of paper can save 17 trees and 7,000 gallons of water. 

  • Start Composting Organic Waste 

Organic waste, such as food scraps and biodegradable materials, can be composted rather than sent to landfill. Composting reduces the volume of waste and produces valuable compost that can be used to enrich soil. Set up compost bins in staff break areas and encourage employees to compost their organic waste. According to WRAP, composting can reduce the waste sent to landfills and incinerators by up to 30%. 

  • Transition to Digital Records 

One of the most effective ways to reduce paper use is by transitioning to digital records. Implement an electronic medical records (EMR) system to manage patient records digitally. EMRs lessen the need for paper and improve efficiency and accuracy in record-keeping. A study by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons found that transitioning to electronic records can reduce paper use by up to 90%. 

  • Encourage Digital Communication 

Encourage clients to opt for digital communication methods, such as email or SMS, for appointment reminders, invoices, and educational materials. Implement electronic forms for client intake and consent, which can be completed on tablets or computers. This not only reduces paper use but also streamlines administrative processes. 

  • Green Cleaning Products 

Switch to green cleaning products that are non-toxic, biodegradable, and made from renewable resources. These products are just as effective as conventional cleaners but are much safer for use around animals. Look for certifications like the EU Ecolabel or the Green Seal to ensure your chosen products meet strict environmental and health criteria. 

  • Bulk Purchasing to Reduce Packaging Waste 

Purchasing supplies in bulk is an effective way to reduce packaging waste. When bought in smaller quantities, medications, cleaning supplies, and office materials often come in excessive packaging. Bulk purchasing minimises the frequency of orders and the amount of packaging waste generated. Work with suppliers to minimise packaging and opt for suppliers that use sustainable packaging materials.

Achieving Green Certification 

Many businesses strive to gain green certifications and do the necessary work to obtain them, as they are not easily granted. 

Gaining B Corp status is a very popular and sought-after accreditation. You've probably encountered a few B Corp companies in your shopping journeys, from household names like Lily's Kitchen and The Body Shop to favourites like Emma Bridgewater and Innocent Drinks. 

But what exactly do these certifications mean? 

Well, think of them as stamps of approval for businesses that go above and beyond to meet specific environmental standards and demonstrate a real commitment to sustainability. Earning one of these certifications for veterinary clinics can validate your efforts and boost your reputation in the community. 

Several programmes offer certification for eco-friendly practices in veterinary clinics, including the Green Business Bureau, Green Earth Appeal, and BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method). Each programme has its own set of criteria and processes, so it's crucial to do your homework and choose the one that best aligns with your clinic's goals and capabilities. 

Becoming a certified green clinic isn't just about ticking boxes—it has the potential to bring plenty of benefits. For starters, green accreditation isn't currently common among veterinary clinics, so getting certified is a great way for your clinic to stand out and set itself apart. 

But it's not just about attracting clients; it's about building trust and credibility within your community. By earning that green certification, you're sending a powerful message: taking your corporate social responsibility role seriously. And in a world where clients value transparency and ethical practices more than ever, that's a reputation boost that money can't buy. 

So, it's not just about being green—it's about being seen as a leader in your field, a clinic that cares not only for its patients but also for the planet. And that's a reputation worth striving for. 

Remember, it's not an overnight thing. They're not easy to get, and certifications take a lot of work, but you can always get the ball rolling using the below steps: 

Steps to Achieve Certification 

  1. Conduct a Sustainability Audit 

Achieving green certification involves several steps. First, conduct a sustainability audit to assess your clinic's current practices and identify areas for improvement. This can include evaluating energy use, waste management, water consumption, and purchasing policies. 

  1. Develop and Implement a Sustainability Plan 

Next, develop and implement a sustainability plan based on the audit findings. Set clear, measurable goals and involve your staff to ensure buy-in and commitment. Regularly monitor progress and adjust as needed to stay on track. 

  1. Apply for Certification 

Finally, apply for certification through the chosen programme. This typically involves submitting documentation of your sustainable practices and undergoing an on-site inspection. Once certified, promote your green status to clients and the community to highlight your commitment to sustainability. 


As The Great Big Green Week reminds us, there's no time like the present to act. So, let's roll up our sleeves, embrace sustainability, and lead the charge towards a brighter, greener future in veterinary care. Together, we can make a paw-sitive difference for our planet and all its inhabitants. 

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