Plastic bags forbidden

Skipping the Bag to Emphasize Care

Date: June 01, 2021

Author: Mandy Dennis, RDH

Have you ever asked your patient what they do with their goodie bag when leaving the office? Do you think they covet that little bag or just the goods inside of it? We have multiple waste streams in the dental office, much of which is necessary and vital to care, such as sterilization supplies and gloves. However, as we continue to find ways to reduce waste, choosing to skip the bag could show to be more valuable.

What are you giving?

Do you communicate with your patient about what is inside the bag or do you just give it to them on the way out the door? If you aren't communicating about what you are providing your patient with to take home, you might as well not provide it at all. Your office is choosing to give patients a product, but without giving it value, there is none. The product you are choosing to give away needs to be something which would benefit that specific patient. For example, if you have a patient who is worried about the staining they get between preventive appointments, you could recommend Colgate Optic White as a great send home product. Giving your patients a product that will help them with their specific concern shows them you were listening and care. Sending it home without telling them what you are doing for them doesn't give the product value, and patients may assume it's what you give every patient. We need to share with patients why you chose to give them the product.

We aren't the only ones

Multiple stores across the country have chosen to skip the disposable plastic bag. People are encouraged to bring reusable bags to reduce waste, or to use recyclable bag. Many stores now charge for the bag, and in some cases this is required by their municipality. We are obviously not asking our patients to bring a trick or treat bag to the office, however we aren't giving them a bag full of product. Most of what we distribute can be hand carried out or placed in a bag the patient already has. Handing patients the product and communicating on why you have chosen to be environmental friendly may actually become a great in-office campaign for recycling!

An alternative plan

Some patients need a product you do not hand out. Is it important to every patient to get a product to take home? Many patients would appreciate a more personal approach. Colgate Professional Direct is a great way to recommend a product without sending anything other than a text or email. The patient will be purchasing the product, however it will be specifically to help that individual. If you are sending something home, a great conversation could be, "Ms. Smith, I think you would greatly benefit from the Colgate Optic White toothpaste, as based on our conversation you want a whiter smile. Here is the toothpaste and I'm also sending you a link for other whitening products which I know you will find beneficial!" It is actually more personal than the "what's in the bag" you were previously sending.

Takeaways

- If you are giving out a product, make it personal

- Choosing to be more environmentally friendly is common in all types of transactions. Dental communities should do their part

- Choose alternative plans rather than just giving product out. Remind patients they are receiving a personal recommendation based on their specific want or need.

It's everyone's responsibility to be more environmentally friendly. We should do our part to ensure the footprint we leave can be followed.