OBJECTIVE : Attention is drawn to the potential of global warming to influence the health and wellbeing of the human race. There is increasing public and governmental pressure on healthcare organisations to mitigate and adapt to the climate changes that are occurring. The science of anaesthetic agents such as nitrous oxide and the halogenated anaesthetic agents such as greenhouse gases and ozone-depleting agents is discussed and quantified. Additional environmental impacts of healthcare systems are explored. The role of noninhalational anaesthetic pharmaceuticals is discussed, including the environmental life-cycle analyses of their manufacture, transport, disposal and use. The significant role of anaesthetists in recycling and waste management, resource use (particularly plastics, water and energy) and engagement in sustainability are discussed. Finally, future directions for sustainability in veterinary anaesthesia are proposed. CONCLUSIONS : Veterinary anaesthetists have a considerable opportunity to drive sustainability within their organisations through modification of their practice, research and education. The principles of sustainability may help veterinary anaesthetists to mitigate and adapt to our environmental crisis. Due to their particular impact as greenhouse gases, anaesthetic agents should be used conservatively with the lowest safe fresh gas flow possible. Technologies for reprocessing anaesthetic agents are described.