2023 Earth Day Ideas for Dental Practices
Earth Day is almost here! It’s a great opportunity to take a hike, plant a tree, enjoy the warmer spring weather… and then share a picture about it on social media. Today we want to talk a little bit about socially-conscious marketing in the form of celebrating Earth Day, and how you can implement it as a brilliant dental marketing idea this year.
Earth Day (April 22nd) is a day to examine the impact we have on the world around us. Each of us can do a little bit more to protect and preserve nature for future generations. In fact, as a decision-maker in your dental practice, you might be able to do a lot more. Not only do you have a say in what products and methods you use, but you also have the power to influence and inspire others. At the end of the day, your small efforts can benefit your practice, your community, and the world we all share.
How Much Waste Does Your Dental Practice Produce?
- An average of 21 single use plastic items are used for each patient treated per day in conventional dental offices.
- According to the EDA, dental offices collectively dispose of 680 million patient barriers and 1.7 billion sterilization pouches a year.
- One study estimated that if every American household switched to online bill pay, we could reduce yearly waste by 1.6 billion tons.
- Dental offices may also dispose of hazardous waste such as mercury, lead, and harmful chemicals in x-ray and cleaning materials.
Most of us just consider the waste produced by our practice as one of the costs of doing business. After all, patient health, safety, and comfort comes first, right? We seldom take much note of how many garbage bags we fill each day–unless, that is, we get saddled with the task of taking it out to the garbage bin. But you might start looking at those trash bags differently when you realize that you don’t have to compromise care in order to reduce waste. On the contrary, implementing some updates will heighten care, save you money, and make your patients even more glad that they chose you.
But… Do Your Patients Really Care?
There are plenty of reasons to “go green” in your practice–tax breaks, lower operating costs, team unity, and the simple feeling of living in harmony with your values. However, there’s one big reason to not just go green, but to talk about it: your patients care! Additionally, talking about current events can be a great way to get more traction in your marketing. Take a look at these mind-blowing stats:
- 66 percent of shoppers are willing to pay more for eco-friendly products and services.
- 70 percent of consumers want to know what the businesses they patronize are doing to address environmental and social issues.
77 percent of Americans want to learn how to live more sustainably.
4 Essential Tips for Smart Socially-Conscious Marketing
Just as giving practices grow, socially conscious dental offices have the power to cement patient loyalty and increase practice thriving. Your patients don’t just want you to tell them what you’re doing to be more environmentally-conscious; they want you to show them. So make some noise about it. That being said, it’s vital that you follow a few essential rules in order to prevent backlash or turn off your followers:
- Speak up about a cause that matters to you, but make it personal, not partisan.
- Your goal is to get others to join in, not squabble. Making it personal reminds your followers of the human element they can all agree on behind your motivation.
- Follow through on your values and goals, even once most of your followers have lost interest.
- The ones who are still paying attention aren’t afraid to call you out if you prove over time that it was more about the attention than the cause.
- Set achievable goals with real results.
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Pick one or two things to focus on, and communicate about why they really matter. Celebrate hitting your goals, or communicate how you plan to do better next time.
- Be sincere.
- Cause marketing can feel icky if it’s not genuine, so make sure that you’re prioritizing making a difference first, and promoting your practice second.
7 Ways to Honor Earth Day and Get Great Word of Mouth Marketing
Now, in honor of our favorite planet, let’s look at some ways that dental practices can reduce their environmental impact, invite patients to do the same, and then communicate about these initiatives in a genuine and meaningful way.
You could also send branded gifts to the school to hand out to kids on community outreach day like coloring books, pens and pencils, or dental hygiene items. Be sure to provide free promotional swag for the kids like fidget toys, balloons, and stress balls.
1: Show What You Already Do in a Video and Communicate Why It Matters
Do you use digital billing and records? How about digital x-rays? Do you use an amalgam separator to get rid of old metal fillings? There are plenty of eco-friendly things you probably do every day because it’s simply the side effect of having a convenient, modern, updated dental practice. Take a look at this list of 80 ways to go green in the dental practice and see which ones you can already check off.
Then, share! You can research information about how much waste is saved by your practice, and share that information in social media posts, callouts on your website, and fun videos.
2: Reduce Trash, Then Show the Difference on Social Media
The single use plastic you use in your office really adds up. Almost none of that plastic is recycled, and a huge amount of it ends up in our oceans. By simply switching to reusable cups–or small paper ones, at the least–instead of plastic cups for your patients to rinse after a cleaning, you can reduce several bags of plastic garbage per week. You can also make a revolutionary change if you switch to reusable, cloth PPE and patient barriers.
Now, this may feel strange to your patients at first, but try this: Take a picture of your trash from the day or week before making these changes, and then after. The humongous contrast will get you, your team, and your patients excited about the change… it might even go viral!
3: Take a Pledge to Save Water and Invite Your Patients to Do the Same
The majority of Americans leave the tap running while they brush their teeth. Provided that they brush for the recommended two minutes twice a day, they’re wasting 90 glasses of water every day! Even if you’re not living in a drought-prone area, this is a huge waste of energy and natural resources. You can take the “Save 90 a Day” pledge as posted on the Eco Dentistry Association’s website and invite your patients to do the same.
Get some signage for your office, take some pictures, share some info on social media, and have your team bring it up with everyone who comes into the office the week of Earth Day. You might even create some social signs and take pictures with patients, or have a chart displayed in your office where you keep track of how much water you and your patients are saving every day by simply turning off the tap during brushing time. Tally the numbers as more and more people say yes to the pledge!
4: Put Together Eco-Friendly Goodie Bags and Show One Off in a Video
Dental waste isn’t limited to what you produce at your office. Home dental care items account for an alarming amount of plastic waste. You can reduce the amount of waste your community produces by encouraging your patients to be mindful in the dental hygiene products they use–and those goodie bags you send home with every patient are a great opportunity to do it.
Instead of a goodie bag filled with future plastic waste, you might allow patients to pick just one usable item from a grab bag –a high quality toothbrush, a travel cover for a toothbrush, or a reusable floss dispenser, for example. Or, you could take this opportunity to introduce patients to biodegradable and low-waste dental products. This might include bamboo toothbrushes, toothpaste pellets, or biodegradable floss picks.
Once you have a plan in place, show patients what to expect with some awesome video marketing! Share stories on Facebook, reels on Instagram, and short videos on TikTok introducing patients to the options.
5: Plan a Trash Cleanup, Tree Planting, or Community Garden Event
It’s up to you how much you want to scale this event. It might be a special day of service for your team, a sponsorship to a community effort that’s already happening, or a large event that you plan from beginning to end. You might alert the local media, partner with other businesses, or offer raffle prizes and discounts to patients who get involved. No matter what, make sure to take lots of pictures and video of the event.
6: Make Plans to “Green” Your Office and Building
Add solar panels, replace windows, install weatherproof stripping, update your HVAC system, install motion-activated lighting, and turn your thermostat down on the days that you’re closed. Many of the things you can do in your practice to reduce your carbon footprint are the same things you can do in your home to do the same. As a bonus, you may also be eligible for tax benefits that will offset the initial cost of any changes.
When you make the changes, communicate to patients how much energy you’re saving every month–and how they’re helping you do so!
7: Resolve to Become a Certified Green Practice and Share Your Badge
The EDA offers a GreenDOC certification program, along with helpful resources to get you started. Not only is your certification a great badge to share on social media, digital ads, and your website… it can also generate new leads through the EDA’s “Search Our Members” function. Although this may sound like an effort that’s way too big to do just to celebrate Earth Day, it might be easier than you think. If you use paperless billing, digital x-rays, and steam sterilization, then you’re halfway there already!
Furthermore, this long-term commitment will show your patients that you’re not just sharing hollow words; you’re committed to becoming a more sustainable practice and a leader in your community.
Opening a Conversation That Matters
Socially conscious marketing that the whole team can contribute to helps you see that your business is about more than appointments, paperwork, and bottom lines. You’re a business and community leader, and you can use your influence to make this world a better place to live.
When it’s done right, modern marketing isn’t just about promoting a business–it’s about engaging in a dialogue and meeting a need. The need for all of us to be consciously involved in minimizing the harm we do to the plant is greater than ever, and your patients want to talk about it! Open the conversation this spring and see just what kind of an impact it can have.
Let us Fill Your Marketing Cavities
If you’re still stumped and looking for more ideas on how to market a pediatric dental office, it’s time to get help from pediatric dental marketing companies like us. At My Social Practice, our branding experts love creating custom marketing strategies that fit your needs exactly. Whether you need a website overhaul or help with social media, we’ve got you covered.
About the Author: Christine Hill is a dental marketing expert and a key member of the dental marketing team at My Social Practice. My Social Practice is located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Christine is passionate about helping dental practices attract new patients through effective dental marketing services.