Blog : Dental Practice Bolsters Green Economy

By Katelyn | Nov 2, 2015 | in

By Anne Twombly

In a world where the vast majority of American manufacturing takes place overseas, there is still a place for the artisan craftsperson in Newmarket, NH. Jon Piatt, local woodworker has been working collaboratively for the past few months with the owner of Newmarket Dental, Dr. Nate Swanson, to furnish and adorn the dental practice’s new office space. By hiring local labor and utilizing found materials, Newmarket Dental is exemplifying the positive impact thoughtful businesses can have on the local economy as well as the global environment.

When Swanson moved his popular small practice, Newmarket Dental, from its tiny downtown Newmarket location to a larger, newer space, he made sure that every facet and function of the building was as efficient and sustainable as possible.

“I loved working in a 200-year-old building, but for the purposes of healthcare delivery, it just didn’t work,” he said. “We had to consider patient volume, clinical efficiency, disability access, and parking. The whole notion of moving into a building less than 10 years old may seem counterintuitive sustainably speaking, but now we’re getting other benefits like much greater energy efficiency.”

The new office also naturally demanded a great deal of furnishing. As opposed to purchasing new furniture that would likely be manufactured overseas, at high environmental but low fiscal cost, Swanson opted for the green option and sought out a local source. Enter Jon Piatt, local, Greenland-based woodworker.

“I do commission pieces primarily for residential home owners.” Piatt explains.

One such custom piece by Piatt recently received journalistic acclaim from NH Home Magazine. Piatt in conjunction with welder and craftsperson, Erik Ward, finished a collaborative custom tree house for a Seacoast resident, complete with repurposed materials relevant to the client.

“That tree house has a lot of unique materials.” Piatt added. “A lot of things are reused.”

It’s this re-use component in Piatts’s work that excited Swanson in terms of his desired custom pieces. He wanted the permanent fixtures within his facility to have as good an origin in addition to end-of-life value. Wood is biodegradable so it makes sense as a material in terms of sustainability - local wood makes better sense.

“I have a friend in Strafford that has a saw mill. This tree happened to be a tree that fell naturally on his property-which he ended up milling.” Piatt explained. “[Swanson] was wondering about some sort of special lumber, I told him about this piece and I showed it to him. I told him the story about where it came from.
He was all about the tree that fell in Strafford.”

From that batch of NH fallen tree and a variety of other local found embellishments, Piatt was able to yield a plethora of custom furniture for Swanson’s office including a custom countertop, conference table, and coat rack to name a few.

“A lot of stuff you do you buy new materials, but we don’t like to throw away large scraps.” Piatt explains. “So small projects like that we’ll use up the rest of the product to be conscious about our waste.”

As regular buyers of operational consumables, businesses can be incremental in mitigating frivolous plastic use. In the health care industry specifically, which demands the highest degree of sanitation and sterility, disposable plastic makes sense. In terms of the overall health of the planet, and according to Dr. Nate Swanson of Newmarket Dental, compostable alternatives make better sense.

Nearly every part of the business focuses on creating as little waste, specifically plastic, as possible. In addition to going nearly completely paperless, the office uses corn-based biodegradable rinse cups and seat covers, offers toothbrushes made from recycled plastic to its patients, and uses all reusable sanitized teeth cleaning products.

And the list of work for Piatt goes on as needs arise.

“Currently he is working on a project to create an arrow to hang in the hallway that helps patients coming from the operatories make their way to the exits without confusion.” Swanson explains.

Signs like this would normally be made of plastic when bought new. According to the Plastics Pollution Coalition, a non-profit dedicated to sustainability education and the mitigation of plastic consumption, “Americans use 30 million tons of plastic each year” the vast majority of which isn’t recovered for recycling. This waste leaches chemicals and heavy metals into soil, pollutes groundwater, harming the ecosystem and threatening human health. Commissioning the sign out of local naturally biodegradable wood bypasses the end-of-life hazards of the former option.

In finishing this sign, Piatt was delighted to have an opportunity to use what he described as “a phenomenal piece of machinery”; an antique joiner manufactured in Dover, NH in the 1800s – clearly goods that are built to last stay ever-green.

Click here to learn more about Newmarket Dental.