Sustainable clinics with Dr Jeremy Watson

by Dr Phil Tucak
18 Nov 2021
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Veterinary practices have the opportunity to incorporate sustainability into their businesses and contribute to addressing the climate crisis by participating in the ClimateSmart program, run by Veterinarians for Climate Action (VfCA). 

“As veterinarians, we are guardians of, and advocates for, animal health. The deteriorating climate is the biggest threat to all animal health. Vets being more sustainable is a practical way to reduce our impact on the environment, and provides leadership and inspiration to pet owners, livestock farmers and wildlife carers - that we all need to do more,” said Dr Jeremy Watson, veterinary partner at Brimbank Veterinary Clinic in Victoria. 

Addressing climate change 

A long-term member of the AVA, last year Dr Watson joined VfCA as a volunteer working on their ClimateSmart program for veterinary clinics. 

“We all need to do more. Working on the ClimateSmart program is my opportunity to give something back to the profession and support other vets to take action on climate change. I am appalled by the failure of all our federal political leadership to deal with the climate crisis.” 

“My research into what the vet profession was doing about climate change led me to the VfCA. I found a group of highly-organised, everyday vets determined to encourage our profession to step up and do more to address climate change. In particular, the webinar with ANU climate scientist Professor Mark Howden on the VfCA website highlights how little time we have left to realistically address climate change before reaching irreversible tipping points,” explained Dr Watson. 

ClimateSmart program 

The ClimateSmart program has six modules covering water, recycling and minimising landfill, energy efficiency, procurement, renewable energy, and chemicals, toxins and pharmaceuticals. The program is designed to empower vet nurses, vets and business owners to transform their clinics to lead the way in environmental sustainability. The initiative combines knowledge in sustainability and carbon, with experience in the field to combat industry-specific challenges. 

In 2011 Dr Watson and his business partners rebuilt their veterinary clinic, featuring many sustainable design features, and as he explained, there are two important ways for veterinary clinics to become more sustainable. 

“Practice design – a new build or retrofit is a huge opportunity if approached through a sustainable lens. Not only do you get a building that is cheaper to run, it is also a much nicer place to work, with fresh air, controlled natural light and a comfortable temperature. - much better for the mental health of the team. The physical work environment is so often overlooked as a part of workplace health.” 

“Secondly, through building a sustainable team culture – developing a culture of sustainability enables a business to save money, unites the team with a common purpose - attract the best staff, market to your client base and reduce your impact on the climate and provide better animal health. The VfCA ClimateSmart program is putting this together as a training package available next year,” said Dr Watson. 

AVA Centenary Week presentation 

Dr Watson will be speaking about how to make vet clinics sustainable as part of the upcoming AVA Centenary Week virtual conference 

If you have not yet registered for Centenary Week, find more information and register here now.  

For more information on the VfCA ClimateSmart program, visit vfca.org.au/climatesmart. 

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