With change comes innovation
Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day and the UN theme for 2022 is ‘'Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow'. In celebration of this we highlight Abigail Omidiran, apprentice energy assistant at Solent, who is a young, dynamic woman working towards achieving sustainability in the Trust.
Abigail reflects on her final year of her integrated masters in Geology, where she was given the opportunity to be a part of an active project investigating how the mining industry can become carbon neutral. She was disillusioned to see that even though all the research and data she collected supported that climate change is undeniable, not much action was being taken. “It was soul destroying. I kept on thinking, where is the silver lining? Three years later, I am now employed to do something about climate change in the workplace. I’ve realised that everything must change and change, however hard, is the silver lining. With change comes innovation, new ways of working, healthier lifestyles, more opportunity for employment and growth on every level.”
Abigail’s focus at Solent is to learn how we as a Trust can adopt more sustainable practices and then apply that knowledge in the workplace. Abigail says; “Sustainability is a complex and ongoing process, which can only be improved and become more efficient with time and technological advancement. It’s exciting to be in a position where I can help instigate change in our Trust, but more importantly, witness the change that other people are making. Sustainability cannot be achieved by one person, one team, one department or one service line, it needs to be the aim for everyone in the Trust.”
Reflecting on recent events and the future, Abigail highlights how the COVID-19 pandemic exposed our vulnerabilities and how affected we can be by environmental changes. Abigail adds: “It took the pandemic to holt most of the western society. What will civilisation look like under extreme temperatures, weather events and spreading of new diseases? However, we can directly influence climate change by the changes we make today.”
By reducing the UK’s carbon emissions to 0 by 2050, the NHS Net Zero plan shows we could see over 5,700 lives saved every year from improved air quality, 38,000 lives saved every year from a more physically active population and over 100,000 lives saved every year from healthier diets. These prevented deaths also lead to lower patient populations which means a better staff to patient ratio which ultimately leads to better quality of care.
Abigail says; “With the NHS contributing to 4-5% of our nation’s carbon footprint, we can make a direct impact on our nation’s health by simply choosing the most sustainable process to operate our services within. That’s why we, as part of the NHS Net Zero target, have launched our Green Plan; a plan to reach carbon net 0 by 2050. Alongside this, we have an action plan; actions we must take to reach our goal.
“Some of the achievements that have been made at the Trust that have contributed to our sustainability are changing all our lights to LEDs with Estate team, and undergoing a water saving scheme with our water supplier. We have also conducted consultations with patients online and over the phone, to reduce patient travel and recycling walking aids”. Abigail also works closely with Procurement monitoring what we purchase and how sustainable these items are as well as promoting alternative ways to travel to work and hosting bike events throughout the year.
Abigail is clearly passionate about fighting climate change and is happy what she does for a living is helping to achieve that. “Fighting climate change isn’t achieved by a few people conducting grand projects and implementing large infrastructure in our buildings. It’s fought by a lifetime of choosing to make consistent changes and applying those actions daily. It’s fought by everyone, for everyone.”
Here are some quick tips on how you can reduce your carbon footprint:
- Pay close attention to your consumption throughout the day. How much food are you buying and wasting?
- Are you leaving the tap running when brushing your teeth (you can save 6L of water per minute by not running the tap)?
- How often do you have your heating on every day? Insulate your home with triple glazing and insulation under floorboards and in the loft. Contact your energy provider for more ways you can decrease your energy consumption.
- Ultimately, be aware of what you are buying, using, and wasting and challenge yourself to use what you do buy as efficiently as you can.