Saturday, November 23, 2013

Being Green in 2013: Thanksgiving Edition

Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes

You might still be trying to get all the cooking done for Thursday, but here at U-M Recycling we're already thinking about leftovers! After all, the next best thing to Thanksgiving dinner is the days of Thanksgiving leftovers that follow. The best way to show how thankful you are for all the food on your Thanksgiving table is to make sure none of it goes to waste! So here are some great recipes that will let you savor every last bite of Thanksgiving:

Next-Day Turkey Soup
8 cups chicken broth
1 turkey carcass, all meat removed
2 carrots
2 celery stalks
2 onions
2 bay leaves
3 cups dark turkey meat
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups leftover cooked Thanksgiving vegetables (brussel spouts, sweet potatoes, green beans, etc)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

For full directions:

Stuffing-Stuffed Mushrooms
1 cup leftover stuffing
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 minced garlic clove
24 button mushoom caps

Mix leftover stuffing with parmesan, olive oil, parsley, and garlic. Stuff into mushroom caps. Top with parmesan and olive oil. Bake 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees.

Cranberry Tartlets
12 (2 3/4-inch) squares of dough
6 tablespoons cranberry sauce
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Sanding sugar

Arrange squares of dough in a mini-muffin pan. Top each square with 1 1/2 teaspoons cranberry sauce. Fold in edges. Freeze for 30 minutes.
Beat together egg yolk and cream. Brush tartlets with egg wash. Sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake at 400 degrees 30-35 minutes (until golden).

For many more Thanksgiving leftovers recipes, go to:

Happy Turkey Day! We're thankful for our readers of the MRecycle blog!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Being Green in 2013: Week 16

Reduce, Reuse,... Reprocess
How the health care industry is becoming less disposable and more sustainable

According to environmentalists, our "culture of disposability" will not be environmentally and economically feasible for long, and we will soon transition away from single-use items. If necessity arises, humans could reasonably transition from Kleenex back to handkerchiefs and give up Solo cups and plasticware. But what those products for which the benefits of disposability extend beyond convenience? In the medical arena, disposable items such as syringes, gloves, masks and bandages provide the hygiene, sterility, and safety that define our modern medical system. So what can hospitals do to be less disposable and more sustainable?

Recycling and reprocessing of surgical instruments is a growing area in engineering and product development. Reprocessing generally entails cleaning, disinfecting, and/or sterilizing reusable devices. Medical device recycling has been ranked 6th out of the Top 10 Fastest Growing Industries 2012-2017. According to an article from Clemson University:
[T]here's a new push for controlling the amount and type of waste hospitals generate, as it costs a lot of money to control biohazardous waste. Not only are hospitals interested in controlling this cost, but companies are also interested in a more sustainable model. As a result, some instruments are now being reprocessed so that they can be safely reused for different surgeries. Additionally, insurance companies are no longer funding certain medical devices for individual patients, so work toward making such devices reusable is also being done.
Cost-effectiveness is a key incentive for the recycling of medical devices. Stryker Sustainable Solutions Inc., a leader in medical device reprocessing and remanufacturing, asserts that even if only 1 to 2 percent of all single-use devices were reprocessed, the healthcare industry could save up to $2 billion. Universities have been showing increasing interest in the reprocessing sector and in 2012, Clemson University established the first Medical Device Recycling and Reprocessing Certificate Program for engineers entering the medical device industry. Beyond reprocessing, some companies are creating alternatives to conventional wasteful medical devices. A Netherlands-based technology group has recently come out with the Bioneedle, a waste-free alternative to syringes for vaccine delivery.

The healthcare sector is taking other measures to reduce its environmental impact as well. According to an article on, hospitals across the country are finally working to cure their "environmental ills". Spectrum Health's Butterworth Campus in Grand Rapids, MI is working to become mercury-free. The Albany Medical Center in Albany, NY has established a comprehensive waste-reduction program and has built a distillery to reclaim its chemical waste. And the Gunderson Health System in LaCrosse, WI has invested $30 million in becoming energy self-sufficient by 2014. 

A non-profit organization called Health Care Without Harm partners with hospitals to "implement ecologically sound and healthy alternatives to health care practices that pollute the environment and contribute to disease." The organization seeks to transform the health care industry worldwide. Their goals include: to create markets and policies for safer products; eliminate incineration of medical waste; transform the design and construction of health care facilities; encourage sustainably-sourced food production at health care facilities; promote human rights and environmental justice; and address climate change by improving energy practices.

The University of Michigan Health System leads the health care industry in environmental stewardship. In September 2013, U-M Hospitals and Health Centers (UMHHC) was recognized by "Becker's Hospital Review" as one of the 50 greenest hospitals in AmericaUMHHC has also received Practice Greenhealth's Environmental Leadership Circle Award-- the organization's most prestigious award-- five years in a row (2007-2011). UMHHC has an Environmental Stewardship Committee with subcommittees focusing on building design, energy conservation, waste management and recycling, environmentally preferred purchasing, cleaning and chemicals, and food programs.

U-M Hospitals and Health Centers provides all new buildings, additions and construction projects with a budget of $10 million or more to meet or exceed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification level. Building design focuses on energy saving, water efficiency, reduced CO2 emissions, improved indoor air quality, and stewardship of resources. The new LEED certified C.S. Mott Children's and Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital have features including the green roof, which reduces heating and cooling costs and water runoff issues, and occupancy sensors to save energy when rooms are not in use. For more information on sustainable building design at UMHHC visit:

Since 2005, UMHHC buildings have increased their energy efficiency by over 24%. Energy-saving projects in 2012 included advanced controls to increase efficiency of heating and cooling and reduce heating and cooling of unoccupied areas, occupancy censors and daylight censors, water-saving fixture retrofits in restrooms, airflow balancing, and GreenIT programs to manage computer energy use during inactive periods. Check out this Youtube video onU-M Health System Energy Conservation to learn more.

UMHHC recycled over 25% of its waste in 2010 and decreased its total waste by 106.65 tons from the previous year. The UMHHC participates in a Beverage Container Recycling Program, Battery Recycling Program, Cell Phone Recycling Program and the Recycle Write! program. With health care facilities across the country adopting a new focus on environmental sustainability, and trend-setters like the U-M Hospitals and Health Care Centers to lead the way, we can trust that our health care system has begun to tackle the issue of disposability.