A.O. Fox Hospital, part of the Bassett Healthcare Network, is furthering its commitment to environmental preservation and health with eco-friendly supplies in its hospital cafeteria and Cyber Café at FoxCare Center.

The organization began an initiative in January to begin using biodegradable products made from recycled materials in place of plastic and Styrofoam, including bowls, cups, plates, and take-out containers. In addition, plastic straws will no longer be available to customers, part of a movement founded by the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation called “Skip the Straw” that businesses are adopting worldwide. Paper straws are now offered.

Plastic is made from unsustainable fossil fuels – like oil – that increase global emissions from production to delivery. The material is toxic to the environment and can take up to 1,000 years to decompose in a landfill. “Moving away from the use of plastic and Styrofoam products has been a goal of A.O. Fox for a long time,” says Gary Smith, vice president of operations and long-term care. “Converting to biodegradable-based products in our Food & Nutrition Services Department is a big step toward our facility’s adoption of sustainable material usage overall.”

Many companies around the globe are offering environmentally-friendly food packaging alternatives, which are often made from annually renewable materials like corn starch, potato starch, soybean protein, and tapioca. Other facilities within the Bassett Healthcare Network, including Bassett Medical Center, O’Connor Hospital, and Little Falls Hospital, have also begun to incorporate eco-friendly supplies with sugarcane-based biodegradable take-out containers, paper straws, bamboo and wooden coffee stirrers, compostable containers for parfaits and puddings, cloth napkins, and more.

“In the discipline of medicine, it is our job as caregivers to be forward-thinking and focus on habits that promote health and healing for the greater population,” says Jeff Joyner, president of A.O. Fox Hospital. “Why would our relationship with the environment be any different? Keeping our home clean and sustainable is a crucial part of the future of our society. A.O. Fox is proud to continue this commitment to our patients and neighbors.”