Every aspect of our space has been designed to maximize your comfort, and to reflect our commitment to environmentally sound business practices. We’ve checked around, and believe we’re the first eco-friendly dental office in the country. Sustainability permeates every aspect of our practice from biocompatible dental materials, to walls finished with paint that doesn’t contain nasty volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Their written materials refer to green, eco-friendly, environmentally sound, and sustainability. I added the emphasis. It’s too bad they abuse all of these terms. They have already created a brand–eco-dentistry�, and do show a glimmer of what they are really doing at the end of their page when they speak about “what we do to lighten our footprint on the Earth.”
What they re doing is not eco-friendly. It may be better in the sense of lightening the load than some other practices. The list of specifics indicates it is. Being “green” uses a term that has gotten to mean so many things it is not helpful to those who are making choices, even of where to go for teeth cleaning. Environmentally sound is much like green. It sounds good but lacks specificity. We really do not know what is environmentally sound. We have a much better idea of what isn’t. Again the failure to identify their practices as only being incrementally better sends an incorrect message.
Finally to sustainability. This group, unfortunately like virtually all who use the term sustainability, does not understand what they are saying. It seems almost Sisyphean most of the time, but I keep trying to get people to be very careful with this term so critical to our future. Sustainability refers to the possibility of a future flourishing world that persists over time. It is a vision of what might be. The word itself has no materiality. Much as they might dream of such a world, the dentists’ choice of language to describe their contribution is misleading and unhelpful. The best they can do in practice is what they say at the end: lightening the load. Good idea, of course, but unconnected to what it takes to bring forth a flourishing world. Who knows what dentistry might look like in a future world without cavities or crooked teeth.
(Gerrit van Honhorst, The Dentist, 1622)