Teen inspires Dignity Health CEO to cut plastic straw use across system's 39 hospitals

San Francisco-based Dignity Health eliminated plastic straws and stir sticks from cafeterias across its 39-hospital system after a California teenager requested the system consider its stock of single-use plastics, GreenBiz reports.

Plastic straws are among the most common single-use plastics found on beaches and in the ocean. Shelby O'Neil, who started a nonprofit called Junior Ocean Guardians, asked Dignity Health via email why the health system used so many plastic straws after watching a television ad about the system. The email found its way to Dignity Health CEO Lloyd Dean, who assigned a taskforce to examine the system's plastic straw use.

"Shelby's note stood out because of her strong commitment to reducing plastic waste," Mr. Dean told GreenBiz. "It inspired me to think about how I could help. Dignity Health has long advocated to protect our planet and I knew that it would only take a few small changes across our organization to make a big difference in our communities."

Mr. Dean said Dignity Health decided to eliminate plastic straws and stirrers from its cafeterias. Within a month, the system cut 50 percent of its daily plastic straw and stir stick use, or 5,500 draws per day. This equates to roughly 2 million per year, according to the report.

While Dignity Health will continue to use straws for patient care, it is considering biodegradable or compostable alternatives. 

For the full GreenBiz report, click here.

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