Singing about sustainability in healthcare

The photo used in the thumbnail is an artwork from Maria Kojic.

Sustainability in healthcare. More and more people are talking about it. But Marloes Arkesteijn wrote a song about it. Besides being a singer-songwriter, she works as a transition maker for the Province of South Holland on circular economy. Marloes is dedicated to creating a sustainable world and feels the importance of finding people who have the same goal and are in it from the heart. In doing so, she saw an opportunity to contribute with her music.

Dr Nicole Hunfeld, Hospital Pharmacist at Erasmus MC, came up with the idea to write a song about waste in healthcare. She coordinates the Sustainable Hospital research group within Convergence. Nicole is committed to a Green ICU and regularly speaks at conferences about her approach.

Bitter pill

Nicole: ‘On LinkedIn, I spotted that Marloes writes songs about sustainability, and I thought: this can help me bring people along in my mission. We brainstormed together, and Marloes created this beautiful, positive song. The song is about the bitter pill caused by waste in healthcare and calls on people to get involved. Because everyone has a piece of the puzzle in their hand. Only together can we make a difference.’

The song is available for everyone to listen to on Spotify and YouTube.

Green Deal

Erasmus MC board member Joke Boonstra is pleasantly surprised by this creative way to raise sustainability awareness in healthcare. As vice president, her portfolio includes sustainability. Joke: ‘On behalf of all UMCs, I signed the Green Deal 3.0 last November. Our goals as university medical centres are more concrete than ever and very ambitious. For example, in 2030, only 25 per cent of the waste streams of healthcare institutions should consist of unsorted waste. The remainder must all be separated and reused. More awareness is always needed in this area. I hope this song will contribute to that.’



Marloes writes about what drives her on her website: ‘What do you do when your dreams for the world are so deep-rooted that words fall short….? Then you start to sing! Based on my work on sustainability and circularity, it strikes me that we all talk and understand a lot, but little changes in the end. After all, movement only occurs when you are touched by something. Let the music be the instrument that finds the (fast) way to the heart, right through all the “yes but, what if” thoughts.’


This is not the first time art has been used to draw attention to the waste problem in health care. Previously, Maria Kojic took a photo showing her lying amid her surgical waste. This image was also used as an image to accompany the song.


‘Don’t wait until tomorrow’

We take care of her so that she learns to walk again
We take care of him so that he still has hope
We are getting smarter and smarter, and we can accomplish more and more
But we also make waste, every time we do our job

How is this the situation in healthcare? You might think
So much plastic, so much waste, it’s not healthy, is it?
It’s mountains of tweezers, pills, plasters, you name it
How can we make this stop?

It itches, it rubs, it irritates
Because nobody cares
We do as we always do
But it’s too slow, isn’t it?

It’s about you, it’s about me, and it affects us all
How should it be tomorrow? We worry
It’s about you, it’s about me, and it affects us all
These are the worries, don’t wait till tomorrow

The waste in healthcare is a bitter pill
Hear the doctors and patients; nobody wants this
We’re stuck in patterns, getting worse by the day
Come step out of your habits, will you take your chance today?

It itches, it rubs, it irritates
As long as no one reacts
We do as we always do
Or will you change today?

This puzzle has a hundred thousand pieces
and you’ve got a piece in your hand too

It’s about you, it’s about me, and it affects us all
How should it be tomorrow? We worry
It’s about you, it’s about me, and it affects us all
These are the worries, don’t wait till tomorrow