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Sister Mary Jean Ryan
President and CEO
SSM Health Care
St. Louis, MO

Two things healthcare facilities are known for are taking care of the sick and contributing to environmental waste—but some facilities are taking some unique steps to become more eco-friendly. Sister Mary Jean Ryan talks about SSM Health Care's decision to no longer offer bottled water at any of its 20 facilities.

Ryan: The focus on bottled water has to do with the fact that it constitutes the greatest amount of any kind of liquid that we have in plastic. We thought if we are going to make any kind of an impact, that's where it has to be.

In May, we were having a meeting of all of the presidents, and the only question that I said to them was, "How long would you need to ban bottled water in your facilities?" By June 1, there is no bottled water at SSM unless people are bringing it in themselves.

There are those who believe that we should not have banned bottled water because water is very important, and it's healthy and it is readily available from other sources. I don't disagree with that. The fact of the matter is people can bring it from home. It's just that we're not going to provide water in plastic bottles as we've been providing it in the past. We make sure that patients always have plenty of water available. By August, all of our St. Louis facilities will have no liquids of any kind in plastic bottles. Currently at the corporate office, we only have two things: orange juice and tomato juice. We're looking into alternatives for those.

Molly Rowe

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