How To Live Sustainably as a Traveling Nurse

By - Zach
05.18.2023 02:56 PM
Sustainability has been a trending topic for quite some time now, along with climate change, carbon impact, and conscious living. As a healthcare provider, you undoubtedly understand the importance of caring for others — in fact, it’s likely why you chose to pursue a profession in this field. As a traveler who has chosen a career path that allows you to explore the world, you likely understand the importance of caring for our planet and keeping it healthy and beautiful for generations to come. 

While there are many factors currently threatening the environment, the good news is that there are several steps traveling nurses and healthcare providers can take to live more sustainably across assignments. Some of these steps can even help combat some of the damage that has already been done to the environment. Here are a few changes you can start adopting now. 


This one’s a no-brainer. On the surface, it seems easy enough to implement. However, the process of recycling is actually quite complex. In order to ensure your recycled materials actually end up being reused, you’ll need to make sure there’s no food residue or labels on them, and that they are well separated from other kinds of materials (in other words, don’t mix plastics with glass, and definitely don’t “contaminate” your batch of recyclable materials with non-recyclable materials).

Avoid single-use plastics

Plastic is made to last. When it’s not properly recycled or reused, it can stay in a landfill for hundreds of years or break down into microplastics that pollute our rivers, lakes, and oceans. Eliminating plastic from your life is a very difficult challenge, considering how widely this material is used. Think about it — most of us come into contact with plastic several times over the course of a single day. That said, we can make an effort to reduce our use of it whenever possible. Start by taking easy, manageable steps — bring a reusable water bottle to your healthcare shifts, shop with reusable bags, and opt for beverages sold in glass, metal, or paper carton containers when possible. 

Eat greener

Incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet and cutting back on meat-based products is actually better for the planet — not just for your health. Livestock farming is non-sustainable. It results in less viable land for farming and enormous amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. While you don’t have to cut out meat entirely from your diet, reducing your intake can have a positive impact on the environment. Start by reducing or eliminating your consumption during just a few meals every week, then see if you can ramp it up a bit to the point where most of your meals are plant-based. 

Clean with eco-friendly products

There are strict rules about what kinds of products you must clean with at a healthcare facility or hospital, but when cleaning your own living space, there’s no reason you can’t explore eco-friendly options. There are plenty out there, including dishwasher pods, phosphate-free laundry detergent, and cleaning sprays sold in non-plastic or reusable glass containers. That’s in addition to cleaning products that are free of chemicals which pollute the air we breathe. Always look for products with labeling that denotes they are environmentally friendly or sustainably produced. 

Get around responsibly

Cars pollute our air, and the more of them there are on the road, the worse those pollution levels get. If your healthcare assignment is not within walking distance from your home, consider using public transportation if it's available in your city — such as a commuter train, a bus, or a trolley. Many of these options still contribute to pollution, but at a lower rate, because they reduce the number of vehicles on the road. If the distance between your home and your assignment isn’t too great, you can also opt to bike to work and back. Lately, electric scooters and bikes have become very popular among urban commuters. Plus, the cost you’ll pay up front to purchase one is offset by how much you’ll save in gas. 

Order less takeout

Takeout containers, boxes, utensils, and bags create additional waste that later ends up in the trash. Unfortunately, many of these materials are usually made from plastic. Cooking at home is the most eco-friendly way to consume food, and dining out is a better option than ordering takeout (it relies less on disposable containers and products). If you do need to order your food to go, call ahead and ask if the restaurant offers non-plastic takeaway containers. 

Be mindful at home

One change that’s really easy to make is to be a bit more conscious of your energy consumption at home. Gas, electricity, and water consumption all impact the environment, but reducing your carbon footprint can be relatively easy — simply make a conscious effort to unplug electric devices when you’re not using them, consume water sparingly (nix the 20-minute showers), and only leave on necessary light sources. Switching out your fluorescent lightbulbs for LED options also helps. 

Living a more sustainable life does require awareness and constant effort. In time though, some of these habits may become second nature to you — just like the skills and techniques you’ve learned throughout your professional career as a healthcare provider. Every adjustment has a ripple effect that can lead to a much larger positive impact if enough people do their part. So wherever your next travel nursing assignment takes you, be mindful and strive to live more sustainably. 

If you’re interested in becoming a travel nurse or looking for your next travel assignment, get in touch with CareStaf. We’d love to help you take the next step in your travel nursing adventure! 
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