Faster, Higher, Stronger…and Cleaner Commuting – Talkin’ Trash, August 2016

Like many fellow Canadians, I’ve spent the past couple of weeks watching athletes from around the world perform amazing physical feats as part of the Rio Olympic Games.

Unlike most fellow Canadians, however, I was probably the only one thinking of how I could capture the energy and excitement of the Games to write about sustainable transportation. Sure, there were probably a couple of high-school physics teachers figuring out how Andre De Grasse’s silver and bronze medal dashes, at speeds that would get him a ticket on my street, could be used to explain things like velocity, acceleration and power…but how could I relate his running to the importance of clean commuting?  And Allison Beveridge, Laura Brown, Jasmin Glaesser, Kristi Lay, and Georgia Simmerling peddling their way to bronze in cycling’s team track pursuit…what does that have to do with active transportation?


Continue reading

You are ahead by a century

On August 20th, one of the most quintessentially Canadian and legendary bands will perform their very last concert ever. Gord Downie, lead singer of  The Tragically Hip  (or The Hip, as they’re known) was diagnosed last December with Glioblastoma, a particularly nasty type of of brain cancer. Rather than go gentle into that good night, Gord decided to spend his time doing the thing he loves most … performing for his fans.

Gord Downie of The Hip. Image credit: Scott Gardner / The Hamilton Spectator

Gord Downie of The Hip. Image credit: Scott Gardner / The Hamilton Spectator

I was lucky enough to get some nosebleed, standing-only tickets for last Friday’s show (who needs seats anyway, and isn’t sitting is the new smoking?). We lucked out with the setlist that they infamously switch up night to night: starting with “Courage”, “New Orleans is Sinking” in the middle (an ode to Climate Change, if I’ve ever heard one) and ending with “Ahead By a Century”.

Most of all, it was a shared experience, like a giant group hug in the extremely packed Air Canada Centre. Everyone walked out of there in equal parts happy, sad and inspired.

As shared experiences go, we’re also on day 13 of the Olympics in Rio. The games opened with a lot of singing and dancing, as you’d expect, but it also delivered a particularly powerful message about climate change. The theme of this year’s games is sustainability.

Canada is normally super fierce in the Winter Olympics and just happy to be here in the summer ones. This year, we’re doing shockingly well!

Congrats to Canadian swimmer Penny Oleksiak, at 16, the youngest to score a gold in all of Canada’s Olympic history! She was rejected when she first tried out for a swim club. Now she is also the first Canadian to win four medals at a single Summer Games.

Penny Oleksiak and Simone Manuel tie for gold. Image Credit:

Penny Oleksiak and Simone Manuel tie for gold. Image Credit:

Also congrats to Canada’s Andre De Grasse! At a mere 1.75 m and 70 kg, he somehow managed to keep up with THE Usain Bolt, a towering 1.96 m and 94 kg. (for those comfy with feet and pounds, 5’9″ vs 6’5″ and 154 vs 209 lbs).

Andre De Grasse and Usain Bolt grin at the finish. Image credit: SB nation

Andre De Grasse and Usain Bolt grin at the finish of the 200 m. Image credit: SB nation

And let’s not forget Michael Phelps, our neighbor to the south who has not only won the most medals of ever, he’s also the oldest swimmer to win an Olympic gold.

What does the Hip and the Olympics have to do with greening healthcare, the main mantra of this here blog? That it’s never too soon or too late to do what you must do, and don’t get discouraged if you try and fail at first. Size doesn’t matter, but spirit and a smile go a long way. Also, in this crazy heat, go swimming!

Speaking of heat, here’s another peek at peaks since all large institutions (that’s us) get charged a fee based on our 5 worst hours of power in the year before. What we do now could raise or lower UHN’s electricity costs for all of next year (no pressure :)). Check your peaks at home too.

What to do?

  • Turn off what you don’t need, not just at day’s end, but in the middle to reduce that peak.
    • If you pass an empty room, switch off lights, TV, computer, AV display
    • If daylight is bright enough, turn off the light now
    • If you’ll be away for big stretches, you could turn off your computer and fan
    • Shift to later (7 pm-7 am) for high-energy appliances like dishwashers and dryers (maybe try a clothesline)
  • Is your area too cool now? at work, contact facilities to let them know the HVAC system is wasting electricity and needs balancing
    • If you have control, reduce the air conditioner to the high-side of normal temps
    • At home, use that programmable thermostat, and be a peaksaver too
  • Dress cool so you’re comfy in the heat.

Make saving electricity your own Olympic sport. Courage, and power to you!



Farm to (hospital) table – heading to the market

If you’ve been reading Talkin’ Trash, you know we love us some local food and farmers markets. Lucky for us, SickKids hosts one every Tuesday right next door to 3 of our UHN sites. Whether you go every week or have never been in your life, we’d like to ask you a few things to make the market even better for you. We’ll make this worth your while … 6 quick questions and you could win Market Bucks for this and others**


Take the SURVEY now!

Last week, I chatted with Cookie Roscoe, Market Manager for the last few years. She’s been in the farmers market game for over a decade now and came to SickKids to extend their market season though the winter (indoors, this is Canada people). She liked it so much, she stayed.

Cookie Roscoe chats with Lisa Vanlint while shopping the market

Cookie Roscoe chats with Lisa Vanlint while shopping the market

Cookie brought in a lot more small farms. She personally vets every farmer and seller to make sure they are quality producers and only sell what they grow or make themselves. She is passionate about food and food producers, quipping that “real food is real fun”.

There are so many wonderfully producers, I couldn’t pick a favorite. I can say that my bags were very heavy when I left as we’re in peach season and cheese season (we’re always in cheese season). Here’s just a smattering of what you’ll find:

Gorgeous farm-to-face personal care products

Delightful farm-to-face personal care products (and you thought we’d show you veggies first)



Harvest is lookin’ good! (here are those veggies)


say (ontario artisan) cheese!

Say (Ontario artisan) cheese! Feel free to sample before you buy (love samples).



Pickles that tickle the tastebuds, freshly brined from this year’s harvest (and more samples!)


Meghan Hass makes her Recipe of the week with ingredients from several stalls. Cookie showcases those market bucks! Which you can win if you do the survey

Meghan Hass makes her Recipe of the Week with ingredients from several stalls. Cookie showcases those market bucks (which you can win if you do the survey).


As Cookie says,

Food is joy. If you’re not getting joy out of your food, you’re doing it wrong.

Here’s to some fresh and local joy!


**Market bucks can be used at lots of great markets around Ontario. Here’s your greenbelt cheat sheet…



The SickKids Market is on their University Avenue circular drive, just south of Gerrard. It’s every Tuesday, 8-2 throughout the summer months. Stay in touch with Cookie’s amusing weekly newsletters you can find on her facebook page. And if you haven’t clicked on the survey yet, here’s one more time with feeling. 


Shut the Sash: The Power of Pizza

Armit Dhinsa - the sash man

Armit – the sash man

Hi, my name is Armit Dhinsa; I am a co-op student from Waterloo who has been leading the Shut the Sash program from January 2016. For those of you in research at UHN, you have probably seen me wandering around the lab spaces for some time now, wondering how I magically appear out of nowhere almost everyday. It is all the the Shut the Sash campaign, a major energy saving behavior change program in Research.

The importance of Shutting the Sash was new to me when I joined. As a biology student who uses fume hoods regularly at school, the extremely high energy usage of the Fume hood was completely unknown to me. Continue reading

Water, Water Everywhere, but Not a Drop to Cool Refrigeration Equipment!

In my last cold beverage related… ehh… I mean refrigeration related blog, we learned about complicated stuff like how the refrigeration cycle works and how water savings can be achieved by retrofitting old systems. Since we’re all experts already, I’ll skip all the boring techno-babble and get straight to the good stuff.

Our old refrigeration system at Toronto Rehab’s Bickle Centre used domestic water to cool the refrigeration condensers, meaning that to keep our fridges cold we were continuously pouring water down the drain. How much water? I’m glad you asked because we set up an ultrasonic flow meter on the discharge line to measure just how much water (and $$$) we were sending down the drain.

Power showers are pouring £18,000 down the drain in a person's lifetime Continue reading

Talkin’ bout environmental hazards and your health

This Friday at 1 pm, what are you doing? Lunch at your desk? Scrolling through emails? Catching ’em all on Pokemon Go? Performing surgery? Other than that last one, I have a better idea and it’s for the low price of free … come to the Monthly Health Talk at Toronto Western Hospital!


Slide from Monthly Health Talk: Environmental Hazards and Your Health by Lisa Vanlint

The topic this month is Continue reading