Health Care Without Harm seeks to transform health care worldwide so that it reduces its environmental footprint, becomes a community anchor for sustainability, and a leader in the global movement for environmental health and justice.
Health care mobilizes its ethical, economic, and political influence to create an ecologically sustainable, equitable, and healthy world.
- Protect public health from climate change: Reduce health care’s carbon footprint, foster climate-resilient health systems, mobilize the health sector to address climate change as a public health issue, and advocate for solutions that accelerate a transition to clean, renewable energy.
- Transform the supply chain: Establish and globalize procurement criteria and leverage health care’s purchasing power to drive policies and markets for ethically produced, healthy, sustainable products and services.
- Build leadership for environmental health: Inspire, mobilize, and support health care’s leadership to promote environmental sustainability, human rights, and the right to health in order to achieve large-scale, transformational change.
Our affiliated network Practice Greenhealth is the innovation hub scaling the work of Health Care Without Harm. It is the leading sustainable health care organization, delivering environmental solutions to more than 1,500 hospitals and health systems in the United States and Canada, including the Veterans Administration health system and the Army’s MedCom facilities. Partnership opportunities include NGOs, nonprofits, government, academic institutions, and the health care value chain.
Beyond the U.S. and Canada, our global hospital network, Global Green and Healthy Hospitals, represents over 60,000 hospitals and health centers, treating hundreds and millions of patients in 80 countries.
Health Care Without Harm has regional teams in the United States, Europe, Southeast Asia, and Latin America where staff work on community-based projects as well as national and global initiatives. We also have strategic partnerships with organizations in Australia, Brazil, China, India, Nepal, and South Africa as well as joint projects with the United Nations Development Programme and World Bank.
Health Care Without Harm has spent more than 25 years innovating, piloting, and implementing health care systems change efforts and partnerships in the health care sector in order to activate all of its assets – economic, political, moral, clinical, financial – in service of environmental health and justice.
Health Care Without Harm was founded on the basis of environmental health and justice – that every person deserves the right to live in a healthy environment, while recognizing people of color and people who are economically disadvantaged are disproportionately impacted by environmental degradation, resulting in elevated rates of disease, poverty, and shorter life expectancy. We activate the power of the health care sector to address the harms and inequities in their practices and drive a new social contract between health care and the communities they serve.
Our highlights: A look back at our first 25 years
Health Care Without Harm serves as a systems orchestrator for the global transformation of the health care sector to embrace environmental sustainability within core operations and leverage the trusted role and voice of clinicians to advocate for “first, do no harm.”
Health Care Without Harm:
- catalyzed the closure of more than 4,400 carcinogenic medical waste incinerators, helping hospitals save money, reuse materials, reprocess surgical supplies, and utilize alternative waste treatment strategies.
- eliminated the market for mercury thermometers and blood pressure devices in the United States by 2008 and collaborated with the World Health Organization to win the Minamata Treaty, a global phase out of mercury measuring devices in 2013.
- launched the Health Care Climate Challenge, which has over 300 participating institutions representing more than 22,000 hospitals across 40 countries committing to effective climate action focused on resilience, decarbonization, and leadership.
- facilitated historic decarbonization and resilience commitments in over 50 countries through the COP26 Health Programme in partnership with UNFCCC and WHO.
- developed Greenhealth Approved to help health care providers quickly identify safe, sustainable products by reducing the time-consuming, sometimes costly product reviews needed to research and interpret sustainability features.
- mobilized over 50 hospitals to sign up for the Cool Food Pledge, a platform to help hospitals offer diners more of what they want while slashing food-related greenhouse gas emissions, saving costs, and improving health.
- launched the Impact Purchasing Commitment, in partnership with the Healthcare Anchor Network and the support of 12 hospitals to direct health care purchasing toward industries that decrease their carbon footprint, produce safer products and services, and grow economic opportunities for people of color- and women-owned businesses by at least $1 billion over five years.
- created and deployed a strategy to “green operating rooms,” adopted by hundreds of hospitals, saving money and valuable resources while reducing pollution and waste.
- designed and implemented a successful strategy pressuring furniture manufacturers to eliminate toxic flame retardants from furnishings sold to the health care sector. More than 85 manufacturers have developed lists of products to meet our Healthy Interiors criteria.
- instituted and expanded Practice Greenhealth’s flagship event, CleanMed, the premier conference for leaders in health care sustainability.
- supported the work of the Sambhavna Clinic in Bhopal, India, which has been working for over 25 years to heal people affected by the Bhopal gas tragedy and to fight for environmental cleanup in Bhopal.