What If Standard & Poor’s Gave Ecosystem Ratings?
So…no one’s ever accused me of being an economic genius (truth be known, I think my formal finance education ended in a fit of spring fever induced daydreaming somewhere between guns and butter), but it’s always struck me that there are a lot of similarities between the economic system we use day-to-day to buy things, do business and such stuff, and the ecosystem we use day-to-day to breathe and eat and such stuff. For example, both systems are complex, sometimes difficult to predict and almost impossible to control. In the economic system, which we humans created, one day someone is getting a great mortgage rate, and the next thing you know our supply of baklava is under threat. In the ecosystem, which created us humans, forests get flattened, species go extinct, chemicals get added to the air and water and the next thing you know…well, we don’t exactly know what the next thing is yet.
Another example; during this fiscal turmoil we currently find ourselves in, those who try to steward the economic system are focussing on reducing things like spending and waste (you know, like ordering poutine with just cheese curds) while those who try to steward the ecosystem have long espoused the benefits of reducing things like consuming and waste (you know like using a washable bowl and fork for your poutine). Fortunately, as it turns out, what’s good for the ecosystem is usually good for the economic system which, as an added bonus, is invariably good for us humans.
But what does all this mean for us at UHN…and where can I get some poutine?
Here’s how it happens…you’re hard at work when suddenly it occurs to you that it may be time to buy a pen. But before you submit your order you pause and:
- decide that, despite the 2.6 seconds of joy they’ll give, perhaps those googly-eyed plastic head pens that look so cute in the catalogue are not the way to go; and/or,
- choose the pen supplier that has taken steps to reduce the packaging their pens come in and made sure it’s recyclable; and/or,
- figure that since you only need one pen, you’re only going to order one pen since, if you get a box, most of it is likely going to end up being forgotten at the back of some drawer; and/or,
- choose a pen that’s refillable so that next time you only need to order ink; and/or,
- take a couple of seconds to look in the various desks and cabinets in your department because you’re pretty sure that there’s a box of long forgotten pens at the back of some drawer; and/or,
- post a notice on UHN’s Virtual Swap room located on the UHN Message Board (http://18.104.22.168:8080/~discussion/guests) for all the long forgotten office supplies and stuff you found while rooting around the department.
Okay – so you’ve got yourself a new pen…but how’s that waste reduction…and where can I get some poutine? Easy…it’s waste reduction because:
- in reducing the amount of stuff you’ve bought, you’ve saved UHN money; and,
- in reducing the amount of stuff you’ve bought, you’ve reduced the amount of stuff that will eventually be thrown out (aka waste), and you’ve saved UHN money; and,
- in reducing the amount of stuff you’ve bought, you’ve reduced the amount of waste that was created in making that stuff which, while perhaps not saving UHN money, has kept the air, water, and all those kind of ecosystem things a little bit cleaner (I could try to do some explaining here, but you’re much better off, and will be better entertained, spending a few minutes watching The Story of Stuff at www.storyofstuff.com).
So there you have it…ecosystemnomics 101 (with a side of poutine), as according to the guy who fell asleep somewhere between guns and…zzzzzz.
Who’s Greening @ UHN
When do 12 lines equal 40 kilometres? When Cindy from Patient Care Management Services gets her hands on them, that’s when. By leading the process to adjust the formatting of reports produced by Health Records, Cindy managed to eliminate 12 lines of “wasted” space. It’s anticipated that the change, which will roll-out in mid-September, will save around 147,000 sheets of paper (which, if laid end to end, would stretch from Toronto to Oakville) and several thousand dollars. Waste reduction in action, right here, right now…
Links To The Inside (only work on UHN network computers)
- UHN purchases around 80 million things per year…which means there are around 80 million waste reduction opportunities. Get some paper reduction tips on the Energy & Environment intranet page at http://documents.uhn.ca/sites/uhn/Environmental_Management/Procedures/flyer_paper_reduction-office.pdf
- Speaking of waste – UHN has some handy dandy new recycling posters (http://documents.uhn.ca/sites/uhn/Environmental_Management/Procedures/flyer%20-%20waste%20flow%20-%20non-hazardous.pdf) and hazardous waste posters (http://documents.uhn.ca/sites/uhn/Environmental_Management/Procedures/flyer%20-%20waste%20flow%20-%20hazardous.pdf).
Links To The Outside
- If there was one person who understood how economies and ecosystems could successfully work together, it was Ray Anderson, founder and chairman of Interface Inc. (a well known carpet and flooring company) who passed away earlier this month. Much has been written about Mr. Anderson…here are some of his own words (www.interfaceglobal.com/Company/Leadership-Team/Ray-Watch/Meet-Ray.aspx) and thoughts from those who knew him best (http://raycandersonblog.com/).
- The Ecology of Commerce – the book that started Ray Anderson on his quest for sustainability (www.ecobooks.com/books/ecommerc.htm).
- Poutine that’s green (in the sustainable sorta way)? – www.poutini.com
- Nothing says recycling like a good flash mob – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYnd5JRu86E (thanks to all who sent the link our way).