Meeting the Eco Ninja at Northampton Hospital

We took some time out of the Small Action Big Impact HQ to speak to Dr. Clare Topping, Energy and Sustainability Manager at Northampton General Hospital.

Dr. Clare Topping is also known as the “Eco Ninja” (as quoted from her email signature). You can follow Clare’s tweets about green issues and news on Twitter -> @enviromentalist. Clare’s genuine passion for waste and all things sustainable isn’t limited to her work life, at home she’s just as eco-minded, rarely filling her general waste bin and only buying loose fruit and veg. Clare’s even thinking about having a t-shirt made to wear around site to encourage people to talk about the environment and incite interest in all things green!

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WHY DID NORTHAMPTON HOSPITAL SIGN UP AND SUPPORT THE SMALL ACTION BIG IMPACT CAMPAIGN?

Because as a trust we want to reduce our environmental impact and capitalise on the movement that I’ve seen in the last 12 months or so since Blue Planet 2. We’ve had a lot of people wanting to have us reduce our one-use plastics on site. We’ve been talking about doing something to raise awareness around waste and recycling and we have lovely new recycling bins throughout the hospital so it was a perfect way to join the 2 things together.

We’ve done a lot of work in the hospital around getting rid of plastic straws in the public areas, you wouldn’t believe the number of plastic spoons we had on site…… around ¾ of a million a year!! On the wards we have gone back to metal and in the retail areas we have metal for in house and wooden for take away.

I get phone calls everyday about reduction on a daily basis. We’ve been working with Cawleys around doing something to raise awareness for a while so this all just fed in. We wanted to do something around water bottles especially for medical staff and of course for patients as we wanted to put the hydration message across too. Being a 12 month campaign means I can use it to feed into monthly newsletters too, which is amazing!

HOW ARE YOU ENCOURAGING PEOPLE AT NORTHAMPTON HOSPITAL TO GET INVOLVED?

We gave away around 500 water bottles to staff on site to eliminate single use bottles (hopefully).

We’ve distributed monthly newsletters for the past 6 years and we included a big push in the latest one encouraging people to get involved. We also have screen savers that go straight to peoples monitors to advertise the campaign. I also want to use Small Action Big Impact to tie into other events- we have a WEEE amnesty next year. Needless to say an incentive goes a long way and it certainly does get the message out there for people.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO ANYONE THINKING ABOUT SIGNING UP TO SMALL ACTION BIG IMPACT?

Just do it, they give you hints and tips of things to do and things you may not be doing, helping you along the way. I mean why would you not recycling, I just do not understand!