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How to reduce your plastic footprint whilst in hospital

Recently, we had the immense privilege of an overnight stay in hospital with Youngest.

We took Youngest in to hospital with breathing difficulties, always a scary time with a tiny (20 months old).

I was immediately immersed into the world of everything disposable, everything plastic. We have been there before when we had a 2 week stint in hospital with Oldest when she was a newborn, but back then I hadn’t any firm views on living sustainably.

Banning medical plastic is not a viable option

I’m not so much against plastic that I think hospitals should ban it. Even if I wished it, that would be an impossibility. Innumerable lives have been saved using plastic, I do not begrudge it to the extent that lives should be lost. However, I do believe that there is something to be said for at least raising the issue, where appropriate.

Something I certainly do not begrudge is medicine. The NHS is very dear to me. My life, and both my children’s lives have been saved by the NHS and the medicine it is able to administer.

Antibiotics are a really great life-saver, and this time round we came home not just with that but also an inhaler and calpol..

Hospital Medicines

What can be done to live more sustainably when in hospital?


Thinking about the distribution of medicine, I believe it would be possible to replace the spoons with a reusable, non-plastic version such as stainless steel. There doesn’t seem to be much on the market just now, but I have found medicine cups for measuring and drinking from. These may not necessarily suit for tiny amounts such as 5 ml but as they say, where there’s a will there’s a way. If there was enough demand I’m certain such a thing could be manufactured.

Hospital Meals

One example of a time where I believe that we could reduce, reuse and recycle is in hospital meals.

Water comes in a plastic jug and several plastic cups per patient which are thrown away every hour or two and replaced with new plastic cups. This is extremely wasteful use of resources and not a great substance for drinking out of anyway, see my post about plastic for more information.

Klean Kanteen bottle, kids bottle and toddler bottle

Fortunately, I had time to grab our Klean Kanteen bottles which the nurses were more than happy to fill up instead of the plastic cups. This may not be allowed for patients with certain illnesses, but seems to be a definite solution for those in our circumstances.

Every little action helps.


Another food item that I don’t believe needs to be plastic is cutlery. Stainless steel cutlery does not break without a great deal of force, and certainly doesn’t take up any more room than plastic cutlery.

We used quite a few plastic spoons in the consumption of yoghurts. This time, I was too sleep-deprived (and hungry) to ask, but I’m convinced the hospital would be able to provide a metal spoon if asked. They may also allow you to use your own, even if they think you’re a bit weird for doing so!

Totsbot nappies


Nappies were another concern of mine. I didn’t want to use disposable nappies just because we were in hospital. I did have time to restock my bag with our awesome cloth nappies and cloth wipes, but at the last minute ran out and had to ask for one disposable. Still, it was better than nothing and saved a few going to landfill! This is only doable as circumstances allow but nobody was bothered we were using cloth nappies this time. Some hospitals may have a washing machine for longer term in-patients, as my husband and myself had during our stay with Oldest.

Let me know your thoughts!

This information may be really helpful to others who are trying to live a greener life, so do share any top tips or tricks for hospital survival!




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