First A Contest
In celebration of Waste Reduction Week, which runs from October 17-23 this year, UHN has challenged the SickKids and Sinai Health Systems to an Interhospital Challenge – take the quick quiz before October 30 and help your hospital prove it’s a waste reduction champion.
And Now Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Blog
Money talks. Sure, we don’t always listen to it, and sometimes even when we do pay attention, we don’t really understand what it’s saying…but undoubtedly, the murmur of money is all around us.
One place where this chatter of cash is clearly heard is our environment – we extract resources from the Earth to heed the call of currency (with a side effect sometimes being things like feeding ourselves). We dump waste to our air, water and land as part of the banter of banknotes (with side effects sometimes being things like healthcare). So, because the discourse on dough seems to ring the loudest, in celebration of Waste Reduction Week, this issue of Talkin’ Trash will focus not on the environmental cost of waste, but the financial one.
Let’s start with one of the tastiest subjects…food. According to my GoogleTM searches and statistically questionable calculations, Canadian households spend a combined total of something like $100 billion per year on food…and Canadian households end up throwing out something like $15 billion worth of food each year. Now, never mind the environmental effects of growing (water, fertilizer, pesticides, gas), transporting (gas) and storing (electricity) that food (remember, we’re focusing on the money here)…$15 billion will buy a whole lot of LED light bulbs, free range coffee or a bunch of other things that most people would rather spend money on than pre-decomposed compost.
And speaking about free range coffee…it’s a rough guess (aka statistically questionable again) that UHNers drink something like 3.5 million hot beverages while hard at work…and even if half of those hard working UHNers decide to use a refillable travel mug, it still means that something like 1.75 million disposable coffee cups are ending up in the recycling bin each year (because coffee cups, while not recyclable at home, are recyclable at UHN). Now, never mind the environmental effects of making, transporting and recycling those disposable vessels of consumption or that warm liquid goodness in refillable cups stays warmer and tastes better…1.75 million disposable cups means that UHNers are missing out on something like $200,000 in refillable mug discounts (which range from $0.10 to $0.25 at most hot beverage outlets in the area)…which is kind of like having someone take $200,000 from our collective pockets and putting it directly into the recycling bin.
And speaking of collective pockets…hospitals, while at the top of my list of things that are amazing, incredible and everything in between, are not immune to waste. Here at UHN we dispose of 40,000 pounds of waste each and every single day, which weighs as much as 2.5 million loonie coins…and never mind all the environmental effort that went into making, transporting and using that stuff…that’s a whole lotta loonies (yah, a stretch, I know, but try to focus on the money here). True – a lot of that waste is necessary for providing health care, though a recent study (the latest of several similar studies) by one hospital department estimated that they threw out $2.9 million in unused supplies every year.
So never mind the clean air, water and environment that reducing waste will give us (bet you never thought you’d read that in Talkin’ Trash, did you) and instead, think about, and listen, to the sound of money…
- One of my all-time favourite UHN waste reduction stories – Olga Muir, Waste Warrior.
- Another great UHN waste and cost reduction story – this one at TWH Neurosurgery.
- “You’ll never let a strawberry rot after watching this video”
- Halloween’s a comin’ and I don’t know what’s scarier…all the ghosts and goblins wandering the neighbourhood or the fact that Canadians spend as much as $1 billion on the holiday, and much of it on disposable items. This year, try to make your Halloween green, and not just in a zombie flesh sort of way.
- International hockey excepted – three cheers for Sweden as they’re now offering tax breaks for repairing broken stuff.