To put it mildly, there is a lot going on right now. No worries if #WasteReductionWeek caught you by surprise :). As the COVID-19 case numbers started climbing, we weren’t sure if we could go ahead with this. But then we looked around and saw that there was even more of a need to think sustainably.

On the plus side, this is the easiest challenge to do in today’s climate of physical distancing and virtual learning. If you work at Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare (the reigning champs), SickKids, Sinai Health System, or University Health Network, simply click the Interhospital Challenge and play anytime from Oct 19 – Nov 1.

Click here for the challenge:

This challenge is about a lot more than recycling. When we encourage waste reduction, we encourage a responsible use of supplies. This can help alleviate the pressure on our supply chains, a particular worry in the time of COVID. Conversely, wasting extra supplies is a double-waste as we pay to dispose of them and then pay to order these same supplies again (if we can find them). Yikes!

COVID has also brought with it an unprecedented (my vote for the word of the year) increase in disposable PPE. Many people are still not sure of where this should go (we have a poster for that!). Many have even forgotten the first level of waste reduction … not littering. When’s the last time you went for a walk and didn’t see old gloves and masks in the grass? Grrr!

Yes, we needed to make this sign

As we learned from When in doubt, throw it out … goodbye wish-cycling, good sorting habits are important. If a blue bin is contaminated with more than 10% garbage, housekeeping staff at UHN (and lots of places) must throw the entire container into the garbage. They can’t fix our sorting mistakes due to issues of safety and time.

And hey, we have a financial reason as well as an environmental one to get this right. Recycling costs less than half of the disposal rates for garbage (landfill), though only works if everyone sorts their recycling properly. That’s why it’s a nice reminder during Waste Reduction Week, an event celebrated across Canada.

Speaking of Canada, how great is the recent federal announcement on a ban on several types of single use plastics in 2021! That’s some major waste reduction at the source! Public discussion is open until December 9th .

May the best hospital/health care system win (and if everyone plays, we all win). At worst, it might be a welcome distraction.

Caught green-handed! Send us a picture of you or a friend practicing the 5R’s (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot). Email it to or your site lead below.

Caught Green-Handed!

For more waste reduction goodness, see these creative winners from past years, or check out the Waste Reduction Week Website. They have some great theme days.

Thank you for your patient and planet-centred care.

Click here for the challenge:

Wanna bring GREEN to your workplace? Contact these fantastic folks…

  • Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare:
  • SickKids:
  • Sinai Health
  • University Health Network: