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news News Monday, January 6, 2020 Monday, January 6, 2020 1:46 PM - Monday, January 6, 2020 1:46 PM

Waste prevention in the spirit of innovation and stewardship

Waste prevention in the spirit of innovation and stewardship

Jacque, nutrition services manager at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Portland, was inspired last year by another hospital that had repurposed discarded surgical wrap in a way that was useful for patients, and kept it out of the waste stream. She was curious if the same could be done at our hospital. Surgical wrap is a one-time-use plastic used to wrap instrument packages before they are sterilized. For a few years, Portland Shriners Hospital staff members were able to recycle the used wrap, but after regulatory changes, the wrap was no longer eligible for recycling and was rerouted to the trash. Each month, about two cubic yards of wrap are discarded, which is equivalent to one full dumpster.

Jacque, along with her colleague Kathleen, supply chain manager at the Portland Shriners Hospital, had the idea to utilize the used wrap to sew belonging bags for patients in lieu of using plastic bags. Belonging bags are used to contain all of the belongings a patient is taking home with them when they leave the inpatient unit. The wrap, which is completely clean, is soft and comes in shades of pink and blue. Not only would this reduce costs for the hospital for disposing of the wrap, but the project would also help the environment.

In order to bring this project to life, Jacque and Kathleen approached the Portland Shriners Hospital sewing committee. This team, comprised of Daughters of the Nile members, meets weekly and sews a plethora of items for patients at the hospital. Examples of items produced by the sewing committee include embroidered quilts and pillowcases for each child who stays in the inpatient unit, shorts for children to wear during their appointments at the motion analysis center and wheelchair bags. When the sewing committee learned about the project, they wholeheartedly agreed to help!

Due to the volume of wrap, the sewing committee rallied volunteer seamstresses from across the Pacific Northwest for this project. “We have 22 Daughters of the Nile clubs throughout the state who sew for us, and we’ve asked them to help us sew these bags,” said Sherry, a sewing committee volunteer who has been donating her sewing talents to the hospital for 14 years. “We have some seamstresses who aren’t able to travel up to the hospital, so they work on these projects at home – and this project is perfect for that!” Many thanks go out to the sewing committee for making this project come to fruition.

Jacque is incredibly passionate about this project and is a master recycler in her own right. This title was earned by attending recycling training courses and volunteering at various events to share this knowledge. Because of her passion in this area, Jacque has worked with the performance improvement team to explore food waste prevention options for the hospital as well. “By sewing the belonging bags from surgical wrap, we’re making an environmental impact and reducing our waste stream,” said Jacque. “We couldn’t have done this without the sewing committee!”