Poppies, Rations & Remembrance Revisited

In honor of Remembrance Day, we’re remembering this from the archives…

poppiesAs the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month approaches, much of the world takes a moment to remember and respect. Many of us wear poppies to symbolize the Continue reading

And the Royal Goblet of Reusable Cups goes to…


With 2,556 Waste Warriors from 7 healthcare & research organizations repping 23 sites across Ontario, Waste Reduction Week 2019 was hands-down our biggest EVER! We had 4 first-timers, so a massive shout-out to newbies: Norfolk General Hospital, Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, Michael Garron Hospital / Toronto East Health Network, and Unity Health Toronto. Welcome!

We also went from 3-R’s to 5 (or 6-R’s if you count reuse/repair as 2). The bigger the slice of upside-down pyramid, the better, though all are good.


We all win just by playing the game and thinking about how to get wasteless. Don’t worry if your personal score was less than stellar. The fixes were right there in the challenge so we know what to do next time. Not to sound cheesy, but that’s the point … to try and be better every day and every year, not just for special events.

Yada, yada, you want to know who won, don’t you 😉? To level the playing field, the winning organization has the greatest participation rate (#participants divided by #staff). This lets small fries to play fair with, um, big potatoes (is that a thing?).


Waste Reduction Week Inter-Hospital Challenge: 2019 results – Congrats HDGH!

Congratulations to Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare!!! First time out of the gate and already top spot. Kudos to Norfolk General Hospital, soooooooo close, just 1% from #1! A special mention for SickKids …they had the strongest final push, going from 6th place to 4th in the last few days. And, not that I’m biased, never … but a giant shout-out to University Health Network for having the greatest number of participants over all!


Now we know how the organizations did, but how did YOU do? (ya, not that all Talkin’ Trash readers played, some can’t, but you are pretty awesome so it’s a fair assumption). You scored a solid 75% on average, and 1/5 scored over 90%!


Most were pretty good about Recycling, with an average score of 93%! Yay you! Where we need a little help is on knowing when to stop … e.g. don’t wishcycle trash into the blue bin or you’ll spoil the bunch. Here, you hovered at 65%, which means a third of us are accidentally contaminating the blue bin with stuff that should go to Landfill. Yikes! To be fair, the recycling rules in the challenge are not universal. They are correct for most of the participating hospitals, but may be different than your city or town.

Our homework (arrrgh homework, blech) is to look up our recycling rules at work and local waste wizards at home. See what needs to go in the trash and put ‘er there next time. Even better, make a wasteless change like lug-a-mug and brew instead of single-use coffee cups and pods.

For our new R … Refuse … you did great! 76% of you say no to the straw. 73% say no to single-use cutlery when ordering take-out or delivery (cuz you packed your own, or you have real cutlery in your kitchen). And a whopping 434 of you made your own suggestions. Too many to list, obvi, but here’s a smattering…

  • bring my own take out containers (tupperware) when dining at a restaurant

  • Now work from original emails while changing payroll schedules instead of printing.

  • I don’t buy food if it comes in Styrofoam. I’ll buy something else.

  • Don’t dispose clothes I no longer use, I donate them.

  • Return all packaging to the store that sold it. It belongs to them not me.

  • Use my shirt instead of napkins

Lots of great ideas (maybe not the last one 😂).

In the Reduce zone, 85% of you choose fewer but better-made things that last longer. 67% of you borrow/rent/share those occasionally-used things like tools or decorations. This sharing economy grows by the day.

You Reused a lot! 94% of you love your reusable food containers. 93% reuse water bottles and bags. For mugs and cutlery, each scored 87%, a solid answer.

Thanks so much to the 2,556 who played this year. It was a lot of fun, but also a really helpful way to get everyone, even your grumpiest colleagues, to do the right thing. Thanks for getting wasteless with us!


P.S. UHNers: if you missed the challenge, you can still test your recycling rules knowledge here: 


UHN Energy and Environment Delivers Improved Lighting to TGH Loading Dock

Sometimes a lighting project is about more than just improving energy efficiency. The loading dock at TGH is a busy place with lots of activity and many vehicles coming and going at all hours. The previous lighting was old and inefficient and the light levels were starting to become a safety issue. Staff were recommended to not walk on the floor level and to always wear reflective vests as safety precautions. Continue reading

Turning A Cave Into Parking Garage

In the past during Halloween season, if you ask me where to find the scariest place at TWH, my personal preference was possibly the Fell Pavilion underground parking garage.  It was large, with very few people and most importantly, very, very dark.  It was so dark that there were constant complaints from users, our own hospital staff. Continue reading

Taking The Guess Out of Hazardous Waste Since 1999 – Talkin’ Trash, October 2019

UHN’s Handy Dandy Everything You Need To Know About Hazardous Waste Quiz

1.  When it comes to disposing of biomedical waste, UHN uses:

  • a) RED bags and containers for items that, by law, need to be incinerated.
  • b) YELLOW bags and containers for items that, by law, need to be autoclaved (with steam).
  • c) Both “a” and “b”.  Environmental Services uses the colour coding to ensure that our waste is sent for proper treatment.

Continue reading

Let’s Get Wasteless

So I’m walking the dog (happy to be there!) and the teenager (not quite as thrilled) through Toronto’s gorgeous ravine system and what do I see? Continue reading

Back in the Saddle

Back in the Saddle

So I finally started riding a bike to work this year at 51. The last time I rode a bike in Toronto was when I was 23 and at U of T for my Masters. We were living around Ossington and Bloor and super broke (as students tend to be) so my then husband suggested we start riding to school to save TTC money. I hated it. Don’t remember why exactly but I think it had to do with a mixture of the terror of being mutilated by a car (there were no bike lanes back then) and getting soaked in the rain and having my makeup run all over my face. Continue reading