April 22, 2020

Observing Earth Day in light of COVID-19

Kaiser Permanente responds to the pandemic while continuing to reduce our impact on the environment.

During the health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19, Kaiser Permanente’s main focus is providing the best care and service to our members, patients, staff, and the communities we serve. At the same time, we continue to honor our long-term commitment to leading the fight against climate change, and we anticipate reaching our milestone of becoming a carbon-neutral organization in 2020.

With the current state of the world, Earth Day this year looks very different than in past years. Many nonessential businesses and schools throughout the United States and other countries are closed and nearly every U.S. state has issued some form of stay-at-home order. This reduction in travel, driving, and manufacturing has resulted in dramatic reductions in pollution levels.

While we know the environmental improvement is temporary, there are a number of steps we can take this Earth Day and once our society begins to return to normal activity to help reduce our impact on the environment.  

Pay attention to your plugs

  • Unplugging small electronics — particularly older models — from wall sockets when they are not in use may save energy.
  • Plug in, if you can. An electric or hybrid car can significantly reduce fossil fuel consumption and air pollution. There are hundreds of electric vehicle charging stations at Kaiser Permanente facilities, with plans for more.
  • Plug along. Walk, bike, or use other human-powered transportation for short trips. Reducing the use of personal cars cuts pollution in your community.

Eat with energy in mind

What about water?

Nearly three-fourths of the Earth’s surface is water — and the human body is roughly 60% water. Given the importance of water to Earth and human health, Kaiser Permanente has been taking aggressive steps to reduce our impact on local and regional water systems surrounding our facilities.

  • Save water — and save on your water bill — by checking for and fixing leaks, taking shorter showers, and only running washing machines and dishwashers when they are full.
  • Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated — and use reusable containers. This saves money and produces less waste compared to buying single-use plastic bottles.
  • For landscaping, choose native plants that thrive in your area to conserve water and energy.

Curtail chemicals

  • When appropriate, use homemade household cleaners using white vinegar and baking soda.
  • Choose healthier soaps, lotions, and other personal care products without synthetic chemicals or fragrances.

Watch your waste

  • A great first step in reducing waste is limiting your consumption. Earth Day is a great time to commit to buying durable and reusable products. When you must dispose of something, commit to recycling and composting more.
  • Don’t flush unused or expired medications down the drain. Wastewater treatment plants are generally not designed to treat pharmaceutical waste. Kaiser Permanente pharmacies can provide information about disposal, and often will accept and properly dispose of your unused medications.
  • Dispose of household hazardous waste properly to avoid contaminating the soil or water. This includes items such as paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, and pesticides.

Learn more about Kaiser Permanente’s efforts to protect the environment and the health of communities.