UW Hospital staff recycle through art

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- While walking through the halls of UW Hospital, you might notice art unlike anything else. Physicians in the hospital's anesthesiology department decided to find something useful for used vial caps that were once thrown away.

"This one we've been working on for at least 60 hours," said Dr. Karin Zuegge holding a piece of art showing the state capitol.

All the colors of the rainbow are found on the caps of vials of injectable medications. These caps were once thrown away because they're too small to be recycled with other everyday products.

"We decided to start making art out of them just because they were so colorful and fun we thought it would be a great way to draw attention to recycling in general, to the amount of medical waste we produce every year, everyday," said Dr. Meghan Warren.

Every hospital procedure requires as least five vials. Prior to recycling the plastic caps, up to 150 thousand caps were going into the landfill every year from UW Hospital.

"I published a picture of this in one of the anesthesia journals and I started getting contacted by people around the country who were interested in doing this," said Zuegge.

Zuegge said art isn't her thing.

"Not at all artistic," Zuegge said.

Warren agreed, that art doesn't come easy for her.

"So it really is a fun way to let your right brain go," said Warren.

But turning trash into treasure is motivation for these two to keep on creating.

After collecting the vial caps UW's Department of Anesthesiology looked at other ways it was impacting the environment and decided to start using a more environmentally friendly gas to put people to sleep during procedures. The hospital has since saved 30 thousand dollars a month in the operating room by making the switch.