Again, I don’t want to be heavily moralistic, but along the lines of the analyst Donna Orange who writes about climate change and the ethical mandate that we have as mental health professionals….I just think we need to be concerned with all of life and think about how we take care of ourselves, and that includes the environment in which we live. They are inseparable for me.
LZ: This is very specific. Since you’ve been at MHT, we’ve been making very practical changes to make this a more green small business. What are your favorite way to show your love and appreciation [of the environment] that you make sure to practice?
GT: The environment and the concerns around the planet…and the amount of plastic and trash that we are producing as our human population continues to grow is completely overwhelming. You can just feel completely overwhelmed and paralyzed. If you read that National Geographic issue that came out this summer, you could easily just fall into a puddle of despair. So, I’m of the mindset, like what we do in therapy…doing things one by one. I think every little small thing we do is of importance. For example, at MHT, when we had the move to put in a towel instead of paper towels because paper towels have already been recycled down and they are no longer recyclable. So, we made this move. I love that we did that. Every time I go in there, I’m reminded of the environment…and how we aren’t generating more trash with paper towels. I think it has a ripple effect. We use glasses in the waiting room instead of disposable cups. We recycle…we have been trying to use the recyclable trash bags. All of those things are so great. There’s so many opportunities to buy something that you can throw away or recycle. I tend to carry those things that are recyclable along with me throughout the day. If I don’t see a recycling bin, then I’ll just take the bottle home with me until I can get to the appropriate bin. It’s not that big of an effort to make my small contribution. In my private office, I try to put as much as possible in my big recyclable bag and try to throw very little in my trash bin. It’s crazy not to do these things that take only a little bit of effort.
LZ: Yeah, with all that we use…everything we get is from our environment. So, what is holding a glass bottle in your purse for 8 hours?
GT: I have imagery that helps me and reminds me. I saw that picture of the sea turtle that ended up with a plastic straw in its nose. I just have that imagery come to mind and feel the conflict inside when I see a plastic straw. I think it’s a good conflict to feel. So long as we use the conflict instead of giving into it or falling into despair — it’s motivating.
LZ: Yeah, having that imagery…once you see it, you can use it as motivating factor. You can’t put your head in the sand and pretend that it doesn’t exist anymore..…After we had our open house, we had a lot of food waste, which you know we had a lot of guests, there was a lot of food…I want to get a compost..an MHT compost is next!
GT: I brought some of the extra food home and I put in straight in my yard waste, in my compost. I couldn’t tolerate it going anywhere else. I also think with MHT going green.…as more and more businesses do that, it reminds other people of what we need to do together as a community of human beings. It’s like “Hey, let’s all do it together.” We don’t have to do it alone. We remind our patients who come in, “Okay yeah, I’ll think twice about asking for that plastic straw.” Or thinking about staring their own small contributions. It’s so important that MHT is doing it, to me.
LZ: Yeah, there’s that lean in approach….you’re doing little things. You don’t have to completely re-work it, go vegan, recycle everything, but that doing little things, at least in the beginning can elicit more and more change. I like that idea of not placing some high bar up; living in the constraints that you’re in but beginning to modify them.
GT: Right, well said.
LZ: Thank you so much. I’m really excited that you’re here and being an outspoken pillar to keep us all accountable. Talk about a ripple effect! It quickly took root in our practice and now we’re going green. It would have happened eventually but you made it happen a little faster.
GT: Well, I don’t know if I made it happen (laughs). I might have given voice to something and then everyone else was bringing things in and making the changes. The collaboration was certainly already there. The action has been taken.
Yes, thank you for having me!