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Since its founding, CHI has been committed to environmental responsibility and stewardship that is part of both our Catholic heritage and our mission to build healthier communities. As we witness a changing climate, we must make every effort to strive for sustainable practices that will preserve the earth and all her resources, now and for generations to come.  CHI’s reverence for the environment calls us to:

  • Conserve and preserve natural resources

  • Recycle, reduce waste and reuse materials that can be repurposed

  • Utilize energy-efficient technologies

  • Eliminate toxins and harmful chemicals

  • Access sustainable and healthy chemicals

  • Use environmentally preferable purchasing.

CHI recognizes that health care has a significant impact on climate change – hospitals and other health facilities have very large carbon footprints. When combined with the average footprint of an individual or family who is part of the CHI community, that footprint grows even larger. As a way to help colleagues understand how climate change is impacting human health, CHI developed a resource – Climate Change and Health in the United States.

As another example of CHI’s commitment to the environment and to vulnerable populations, we stopped purchasing bottled water for our offices and are beginning to do the same for our facilities. Bottled water offends the earth in its production and transportation. It wastes one of the earth’s most precious natural resources – freshwater. Each bottle of water takes three times as much water to produce than is actually in the bottle, and Americans recycle less than 40% of the bottles used. Those that infiltrate the waste stream take between 400-1,000 years to decompose. Tap water is actually a safer alternative, as it is highly regulated. And being mindful of the growing control bottled water companies have over freshwater resources.  This initiative honors a depleting supply that leaves more than one billion people globally without access to safe drinking water.

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Recently, CHI was a sponsoring organization in the Healthier Hospitals Initiative – an industry-wide movement to mitigate the harmful effects health care has on the environment. The commitment made by CHI and other sponsoring organizations allowed tools and resources to be shared without cost to any health care facility interested in creating a more sustainable organization.

Previously, CHI was among three Catholic health systems to win a grant from the National Religious Partnership for the Environment and the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change to raise awareness about global climate change.  The educational campaign was another major step toward environmental stewardship by CHI and the Catholic health ministry.  From the grant and educational campaign, a 26-page booklet was produced titled Faithfully Healing the Earth: Catholic Health Care and Climate Change.

Environmental champions across CHI – from Reading, PA, to Tacoma, WA – are raising awareness and taking steps to mitigate harmful impact on the earth and in CHI communities.  Working together for a more sustainable future ensures a healthier environment now and for generations to come.

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