Climate Change and Health

The Climate Emergency is a Health Emergency, climate change underpins all the social and environmental determinants of health. Healthcare is both affected by the climate emergency and contributes to exacerbating it. 

What has the NHS got to do with the climate crisis?

The NHS contributes 4-5% of the UK’s carbon emissions

Action on the climate emergency has huge benefits for health:

Reducing car use, and increasing active travel, improves our health and the quality of the air we breath

Sustainable diets, with a higher proportion of plant based foods, and a lower intake of meats,  are good for us and good for the planet

Prescribing contributes the largest carbon footprint of all activities in General Practice, so ensuring that you are taking your medicines correctly, and reducing wastage, are important for both you and the planet.


Green Inhaler

For many people with lung disease, inhalers are a lifeline; allowing you to take control of breathing problems and open up your airways. So it can come as a shock to learn that some inhalers come with a large carbon footprint. The most commonly used inhaler in the UK for instance, Ventolin Evohaler™, has a carbon footprint equivalent to 28kg of CO2. Many patients are now seeking ways to reduce the greenhouse gas released from their inhalers. For some, switching inhalers could save as much greenhouse gas as becoming vegetarian.


If you would like to learn more about this topic, please head to:

Inhaler disposal

How you dispose of your inhaler is also important. Even after an inhaler is finished it still contains these environmentally damaging gases. Please return used inhalers to your local pharmacy for safe disposal

image-20231116085010-3.pngDon’t throw used inhalers into your household waste or recycling bins!

Landfill disposal of inhalers is harmful to the environment due to left over gases being released into the atmosphere. Plastics from inhalers cannot be recycled using domestic recycling schemes

Active travel

Incorporating physical activity into our daily lives is a huge way of improving our own health directly, whilst also improving the health of those around us by reducing air pollution.


Cycling is a highly energy-efficient mode of transport and often the quickest way to commute. Bicycles improve fitness very quickly and provide a good level of physical activity per mile.


If you haven’t ridden a bike in years, or have never cycled at all, better by bike can help you to get you started:

Bristol cycling centre is a cycle skills training facility, helping people of all ages and abilities to cycle safely


Walking provides a good cardiovascular workout, lowers blood pressure, and lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. It is also energising and lifts your mood.

Follow these tips from travelwest:

Bristol City Council have also partnered with GoJauntly to bring you a walking journey planner, and some of the best leisure walks to enjoy in Bristol

Eating for health

Fortunately the healthiest diet for our own health also turns out to be the most healthy for our planet too.


Diets that are low in animal products and high in vegetables protect us from heart disease, bowel cancers and many other conditions.

For more information on a planetary diet, good for both you and the planet, you could start here:

With the current cost of living, it can be hard for families in hardship to buy fresh vegetables, and it is also often difficult for families working long hours to cook from scratch. 

If you are struggling, Bristol North West Foodbank can help. Not only do they provide emergency food parcels, they also host cookery courses and free advice.

If you are in need of their help, please talk to our team about obtaining food vouchers.

Too much treatment?

Tests, treatments and procedures are not always necessary and can do more harm than good.

To find out more, head here to the Greener Practice Website:,do%20more%20harm%20than%20good.&text=Medications%20are%20often%20necessary%20and,speaking%20to%20a%20healthcare%20professional.