Artisan Dental was founded in 2014 with sustainability as one of their core objectives. They are delivering on that promise with projects that make them one of the leading sustainable dentistry practices. Sustain Dane sat down with Artisan Dental Director of Business Development Rochelle Guastella to discuss their sustainability story.  

At Artisan Dental, recycling is a significant part of their sustainability strategy. They collect oral healthcare products such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, tubes, mouthwash bottles, and use a TerraCycle program to recycle them. The program also accepts other items like deodorant containers, soap wrappers, and more. The best part is you don’t have to even be a patient of Artisan Dental to participate in this program. For each product recycled, TerraCycle gives Artisan Dental points that can then be redeemed further down the line as a cash donation to a non-profit. Rochelle explains the beauty behind this closed loop system as “taking things that can possibly hurt the community if they went to the landfills and turning it into something that actually helps our community by coming back with not only that, but the cash donation to non-profit partners that are doing such great work in our area.” They also pay to recycle some other difficult to recycle materials that are considered biohazards like gloves, masks, and suctions.  

Artisan Dental is continuously looking for opportunities to improve sustainability in their industry. When they see the possibility of making an item more sustainable they reach out to the vendor with their ideas. For example, they recently helped develop reusable suction straws. The ripple effect of this innovation is far-reaching because the straws are now available to other dentistry practices. Rochelle explains “we are not trying to win; we’re trying to have a win for everyone.” 

One of the sustainability initiatives they are most proud of is being the first dental office in the nation to go carbon neutral, and they have now pushed even further to become carbon negative. They completed this journey by working with Carbon Credit Captial. First, they figured out where they were in terms of emissions vs what they do to reduce them (daily tracking of trash weight, how much packaging their items use, etc.) and with this information they purchased carbon credits to offset their emissions. Their particular credits are from Reforestation in the Mississippi valley through their Advanced Carbon Restored Ecosystem (ACRE) program. 

Some of the additional sustainability measures Artisan Dental is taking: 

      • They are a registered B Corp, which means they have demonstrated high social and environmental performance. 
      • They are members of 1% for the Planet, which means they donate the equivalent of 1% of gross sales through a combination of monetary, in-kind and approved promotional support directly to environmental partners. 
      • They prioritize philanthropic donations based on the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals. 
      • They use 100% renewable energy through the MGE Green Power Tomorrow program, reducing their carbon footprint by 82% 
      • Rochelle serves as the current American Association of Dental Office Managers Green leader. 
      • They prioritize working with companies that are sustainability-conscious. 

    Artisan Dental would like sustainability to be a priority for their 22 employees and often engages them with it as well. They have a hard-working Green Team that is currently encouraging staff to participate in eco challenges. Each month has a different set of challenges that includes sustainability practices such as five-minute showers, meatless meals, volunteering, mindfulness practices and educational pieces like learning where your produce is sourced. Prizes for the winning team/individual can range from farmers’ market gift certificates to reusable bags, or even seeds for a garden.  

    In addition to encouraging environmental stewardship with their employees, Artisan Dental takes action to make environmentally friendly options available at the work place. For example, in the employee restroom, staff have their own personal hand towel in lieu of paper towels that are then laundered. They have even strayed away from disposable paper gown use and have instead changed to reusable gowns that are switched in between each patient. They also provide a daily alternative transportation stipend for employees that bike, walk, bus, or use electric vehicles   

    Artisan Dental values making a ripple effect too. Rochelle believes “it is super important to share and inspire.” They talk about their journey with others via webinars and speaking engagements to promote sustainability practices. Last year they joined Sustain Dane’s Sustainable Breakfast Series entitled Pathways to Achieving Carbon Neutrality & Net Zero.  

    When it comes to advice for other organizations looking to start their own sustainability journey, Rochelle recommends to start small, especially when there are other team members to get engaged. “I think people feel that this is such a huge problem and this is such a little piece, I’m never going to make a difference. So if you start off with small wins you start to see the engagement and once you’ve got engagement everyone gets excited about it. They take it home, it infects everyone.”