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Our Commitment to the Environment
and Sustainable Practices
Environmental stewardship is one of Global Links’ guiding principles, and has been from the very beginning. A great idea was born when the organization’s co-founders made the link between the tremendous amount of still useful surplus medical materials being sent to local landfills and the dire need for these very materials in hospitals in resource-poor countries throughout the hemisphere. The resulting Global Links model of medical materials recovery and donation places equal emphasis on the two prongs of our mission: improving health in underserved populations, and promoting environmentally sound and sustainable practices in healthcare and beyond.
At Global Links, all activities and operations are shaped by our dual commitment to improving the health of individuals in the communities we serve, while acting and advocating to preserve the health of the planet we all share. We believe that both healthcare and a clean, healthy environment are basic human rights, and that both are served by reducing waste and by socially and environmentally responsible use, reuse, re-distribution or recycling of resources. We strive to foster a culture that encourages our partners and employees to consider sustainability issues in every aspect of their work and lives.
Global Links works to achieve our goals while keeping our environmental impact as low as possible.
- Each year, we divert hundreds of tons of medical surplus away from landfills, insure their good condition and utility, and deliver them to resource-poor communities.
- We work mainly with underserved countries in this hemisphere, which reduces resources used for transport.
- We are sensitive to waste-disposal issues in the countries where we work, and consult with our partners to assure that all items will be useful.
- We never send any products containing mercury, a neurotoxin and an environmental burden.
- A local transport company allows us to use available space on their trucks returning to Pittsburgh to bring us donations from hospitals out of our region – a low-cost and green shipping option.
- To collect donated materials within the Pittsburgh area, our trucks run on locally produced biofuel. This step reduced our use of diesel fuel by 49%.
Environmental Stewardship in Action
Global Links recently received office furniture from Highmark's Facility Management department when they reorganized workspace. The tables, chairs, and workstations Highmark no longer needed were checked by Global Links staff to be sure they were all in good condition, and included in donations to hospitals and healthcare centers in our program countries.
While hospital furnishings generally imply items related to patient care — beds, overbed tables, exam tables — adequate office furnishings are essential to maintain an organized and efficient healthcare facility. In addition, hospital budgets in our program countries must prioritize medical equipment and supplies, and generally don't include administrative furnishings.
The 109 assorted office chairs, 20 tables, and 40 workstations donated by Highmark in 2011 added up to 8,890 pounds of materials that might have ended up in a landfill. Donations in 2012 include six additional tables, and five refrigerators — an essential item in a hospital laboratory or clinic.
This is an example of how the virtuous circle works: surplus furnishings at a facility in Pittsburgh meeting the specific needs of hospitals in underserved communities in Latin American and the Caribbean.
Our partners in sustainability
- Breathe Project
- Pennsylvania Resources Council
- Medical Equipment Recycling Program
- Construction Junction
- Creative Reuse
Environmental Awards and Certifications
Global Links is an approved partner of this organization, which builds and supports an alliance of businesses financially committed to creating a healthy planet.
For the past three years, Global Links has received the Champion for Change award from Practice Greenhealth, the nation’s only national membership organization for health care facilities and related businesses committed to environmentally responsible operations. The Environmental Excellence Awards recognize health care facilities and organizations that have made a commitment to health care and the environment, and are made on behalf of the entire national health care sector.
Global Links has won the GreatNonprofits Greenchoice award for 2012 as well as the past four years. GreatNonprofits is the leading organization for user reviews of nonprofit organizations.