What a whirlwind tour! We tromped around 6 separate UHN sites this past Earth Week, going lobby to lobby playing our green mythbusting game. Our keen green team really strut their stuff, spun wheels and dropped knowledge. Almost 50 green team volunteers took the time to help out a little or a lot … a new record for UHN! Not only that, we had a record number of staff join up on the spot, making it so much easier to be green when you have a little company.
It’s not too early to say that everyone’s definitely a winner, especially since we all had fun and learned a little something. There were some, um, actual winners that will go home with (insert Oprah voicing her “favorite things” episodes) amazing prizes like these! LED lights! Litterless lunchables! Snazzy reusable bags! A shout-out to Sonepar for donating the energy-saving, space-age LED lights. Each one of these should not only last for decades, they’ll use a fraction of the energy to get the same light as a standard bulb. Yes, 8 watts vs 40 watts – that’s a fifth of the power to do the same job. We kinda love LEDs at UHN.
While playing the mythbusting game, we were impressed that most people knew the right answers. One glaring exception: compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL’s). These babies illustrate this ye olde adage “the path to hell is paved with good intentions”. CFL’s were a good idea at the time … a cost-effective bulb that uses far less energy than incandescent or halogen lights. The only problem? They contain mercury, a nasty element that according to WHO is “toxic to the central and peripheral nervous systems”. Inhaling mercury vapour “can produce harmful effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, lungs and kidneys, and may be fatal.” A good chunk of people bought these lights, not realizing they must dispose of them in household hazardous waste. Some stores also have a “return to vendor” so they’ll take ’em off your hands and dispose of them via HHW for you.
Many mythbusting players admitted a common dirty little secret … that they know what they should do, but don’t always remember or bother to do it. They wanted a little help making their behavior match their knowledge and values. Luckily, events like Earth Week are pretty effective catalysts, starting with one new habit at a time. The record amount of staff who joined the green team on the spot did so precisely to help themselves make that shift. Strength in numbers. This way, we all walk the talk, put our money where our mouth is, be the change we seek in the world … and then every week is earth week.