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Help your practice to go green with Mark Topley

Dental Business and Sustainability Coach, Mark Topley, talks about a new programme he has launched called Go Practice Green, to help practices become more sustainable.

We’re all becoming increasingly aware that it’s important to be as sustainable as we possibly can be. Not only for the planet, but for our future on the planet. However, I think a lot of people don’t really know where to start. They may understand that going green can save them money and attract team members. They may also appreciate that it can be appealing to patients too. But they can also be concerned about how much it could cost and how much time it might take. And therefore, they do nothing.

People can get stuck in a state of inertia even though they would like to do something. I wanted to be able to help people in these circumstances and so, that’s where the idea for Go Practice Green came from. It’s bringing together all the things I’ve learned over almost the last 10 years working in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in dentistry, specifically, and packaging it into a framework which people could easily use that fits into their day-to-day life. The idea is for it to help them to become a more sustainable practice with some good milestones and some encouragement and support to make sure that they become a green practice.

Understand your carbon footprint

The biggest part of any practice’s carbon footprint (about two thirds) is the travel to and from the practice. Half of that is staff and half is patients. So, there are lots of things we can do with digital dentistry and going paperless; making sure that we’re not bringing people in when we don’t need to; concentrating appointments. We can also encourage the team to share lifts where possible or use public transport and incentivising that, as that not only helps with their costs, but also their carbon footprint as well.

With dentistry, there are limitations on what you can do in the surgery, but there are innovations all the time. The Go Practice Green website has loads of ideas on there. There are companies now starting to produce green lines of products. And so, there are some options. They’re not perfect, but they are a step in the right direction.

Go Practice Green is as much about the mindset as the practises employed in the business. It is possible to be greener. I suggest people don’t wait for things to be perfect before taking action, because any action is better than no action at all. And just because we can’t change everything it shouldn’t mean we don’t change the things we can impact and can affect. People reward you when you take honest and transparent steps towards a goal as much as they do for you being able to reach it; as long as you’re not making misleading claims about what you’re doing.

Delegate if necessary

Go Practice Green is aimed at principals, practice managers and anybody that works in a dental practice who is concerned about it becoming as green as possible. I have learned through chatting to my clients, they will have people coming to them saying, ‘we need to do more about this’, or ‘we need more about that’. This is particularly so amongst the younger generation. I’ve spoken to a few people in all sorts of organisations recently where the younger generation are really pushing the agenda on this.

So, if you have that internal desire yourself as a principal or as a manager, or you have staff that are coming to you asking those questions, then this is the solution you need. You as the principal or the practice manager, don’t have to do this yourself. Once you subscribe, you can delegate this to somebody in your practice to take the necessary steps.

One of the things we say is ‘don’t worry about the journey, just take the next step and we will guide you through the process, through the bronze, silver and gold levels to achieve the ideal Practice Green.

Plenty of support

We also assist with not only support calls but also with the chosen level of accountability. So, for example, I’m a practice manager or principal, I’ve invested in Go Practice Green but I don’t have time to manage it. That’s ok because that’s what we do for you. We have built in levels of accountability, which will flag if there are any issues with you getting the return on your investment and the progress you need.

It’s designed to be self-paced. So, if you can spare an hour or only 10 minutes a week, fantastic. The progression depends on the amount of time you have to invest in it, and that can change. I know for a lot of practices, February and March are busy times. That’s fine, you can lay this down. You’re not going to lose anything by stepping away and then coming back to it because it is about building progression. Within the framework we nudge people along if they are not taking any action. But it’s a soft approach using encouragement and support.

I appreciate how hard it is to get these things done in practice and trying to get anything new off the ground can be tricky. We’ve designed it so, whether you have 10 minutes or 10 hours, this will work for you at a pace that you’re able to work at.

Money saving

The good news is that if you sign up to this, I can guarantee you’ll save the first year’s investment within the first year just in power saving alone. There’s an amazing amount of waste that goes on with energy and utility bills. We can pretty much guarantee to reduce people’s energy bills by about 10% in the first year just through implementing the elements that we do at stage one.

At the bronze level the financial investment is £35 a month, and you can cancel at any time. But if you consider how much money you waste throwing things away because there’s no real management of procurement, or people are a bit wasteful, the great thing about Go Practice Green is it puts a very strong ‘why’ behind the ‘save money’ mantra.

When somebody who owns the business or is a manager says, ‘we’ve got to save money,’ there’s no real ‘why’ behind it. But if there is an environmental ‘why’ behind it, that’s a much stronger proposition. It will also help with your marketing, talking to patients and with attracting the right kind of team members. Great value for money.


Mark Topley

Dental Business and Sustainability Coach

Mark Topley is the founder of and the Great Boss Academy – businesses that provide coaching, consultancy and training for leaders, owners and managers who want a more successful, positive and sustainable business.
With a background of more than 20 years in the dental field and nearly ten years supporting dental clients in their CSR & leadership endeavours, Mark has the privilege of being the dental sector’s only Fellow of the Institute of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability.
Mark writes extensively on sustainability and leadership for various titles, and he is an author, speaker and judge for the Private Dentistry and Dental Industry Awards

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