Hello everyone. My name is Tessa and I am a grade 11 high school co-op student. For these past five months, I have been working on various projects and initiatives with the Energy & Environment Department. These include helping out with a lighting audit to help the switch to LEDs, conducting waste audits to see how well people recycle, and surveying parking lots for potential EV upgrades.
While working on the waste audit, I became aware of several things, such as the fact that Styrofoam has been classified as a carcinogen and never really decomposes. On a less alarming note, I discovered that recycling policies are different at the hospitals and other buildings versus home. The main difference is that coffee cups at UHN are recyclable and Styrofoam is garbage. Another difference is that TGH and PMCRT have separated recycling bins. During the waste audit I noticed that judging by the number of contaminated garbage bins, not many people know about this. For a more detailed look at the differences in recycling policies for the hospitals, see this post: https://talkintrashwithuhn.com/2017/08/08/dont-panic-at-the-bbq-part-2/.
Recently, I participated in a survey checking the feasibility of electric vehicle charging stations at the hospital parking lots. Doing so entailed counting the numbers of electric vehicles, hybrid vehicles, and empty parking spaces, as well as wondering whether or not labels like flex-fuel and EcoBoost mean that the car is a hybrid (they don’t). Getting the charging stations is important because studies have shown that having a charging station at work can decrease range anxiety and boost the likelihood of buying an EV by 600%. Using an electric as opposed to gas powered vehicle can reduce carbon emissions by 94%. 74% of staff are in favour of getting charging stations and 50% either have an EV already or are thinking of getting one within 5 years. Those are pretty convincing statistics! Encouraging the use of electric vehicles is a step towards a greener future and a step in the right direction. Add that to increased walking, cycling and transit for sustainable transportation.
image credit: wikimedia.org
Outside of co-op I am on my school’s Eco-team. A couple of weeks ago I attended a youth leadership conference with some of the other members. Throughout the conference, something that really stuck out to me is that in order to make a difference you need to change human behavior, and that can start with something as small as recycling your coffee cups.