In the ever-changing mental list of “things good and bad” that most us keep, “tension” usually ends up on the not-so-good column…which is unfair because, in reality, there are many good things about tension.  Tension keeps bridges bridging,  and raindrops dropping…not to mention it’s what had you on the edge of your seat when Obi Wan Kenobi dueled Darth Vader as Luke and Co. tri to escape (yah, dating myself here), it kept you from going to the bathroom for all seven-minutes and forty-seconds of the 2010 Winter Olympics men’s hockey gold medal game overtime period, and it makes resolution of the slightly out-of-sync background rhythm and wandering time signatures in Coffee (of the Sylvan Esso, not the free-range organic soypuccino, kind) oh so satisfying.

Similarly when it comes to “habits”, they’re often viewed in a less-than-positive light…as in binge-watching “Brooklyn 99” (does this slightly undate me?) and having one too many of those oh-so-tasty free-range, organic, and fair-trade deep-fried sugar dough tori of goodness.  But, as with tension, habits need not be all bad…they can be mundane (always standing in the same spot on the subway platform) to aspirational (all those years of putting on the left side of my hockey gear first…and  still waiting to win that scoring title) to actually being useful (going to the bathroom before heading to the subway platform or putting on hockey gear).

And for me the best parts of tension and habit intersect when it comes to waste reduction and recycling.

Habit as in always keeping an eye out for a recycling bin…and the tension of knowing that every recyclable thrown in the garbage is worse for the environment and more expensive for UHN than if it had been properly recycled…recycling saved us over $150,000 last year!

Habit as in always remembering my reusable coffee mug (as in the free-range organic, not the Sylvan Esso, kind)…and the tension of knowing that UHN produces over 35,000 pounds of waste…Every. Single. Day.

But adopting so many recycling habits can make one a little tense so, since Talkin’ Trash is all about making things easier, we’ve come up with…

Four Tension Relieving Waste & Recycling Habits

(most links will only work on computers connected to the UHN network)

  1. Recycling “rules” at work are different from those at home and even differ between UHN locations.  Get in the habit of refreshing your memory on what can and cannot be recycled or composted at UHN and check out the Energy & Environment intranet page from time–to-time to stay up-to-date.  And keep in mind that within UHN we have:
    • Separated Recycling (TGH & PMCRT) – paper & cardboard are collected separately from metal, glass, plastics and containers.
    • Mixed Recycling (everywhere else) – all recyclables are collected in the same bin.
  2. There are many things that can be recycled at UHN, but don’t go into the regular bluebox.  Familiarize yourself with UHN’s “beyond the bluebox” program and make a habit of getting these recyclables where they belong.
    • electronic waste, including cables and peripherals
    • batteries
    • light bulbs
    • inkjet & toner cartridges
  3. Recycling and garbage are collected in different bins for a reason…and throwing garbage into a bin meant for recyclables contaminates the contents and undermines the efforts of everyone who wants to recycle.  Get in the habit of reading bin labels and making sure you put waste and recyclables where they belong.
  4. For those who follow garbage news (which is pretty much everyone, right?), you know that recycling can be a messy business.  Which is why the  best recycling habit to have is…not recycling, but rather reducing the amount of waste UHN produces in the first place..And who knows…once these recycling habits are part of your life at UHN, you may even feel a little less guilty the next time you grab a deep-fried sugar dough torus of goodness.  But that’s a topic for another time…

Habitually Yours,


p.s. The Waste Reduction Week Intrahospital Challenge is on – help UHN defend its championship title (woot woot) a get a chance to win prizes by taking a 2-minute quiz on the 3R’s until November 2.   Click here to play.