It’s rough, I get it. You’ve been waiting with bated breath, pacing back and forth, constantly refreshing your browser, wondering who will win? Well, I’m happy to say we can finally give you the news. It was a tight race at times, but then a clear winner emerged …

… Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare won the Waste Reduction Week Inter-Hospital Challenge! Congratulations to Jason Schneider and the whole HDGH team! University Health Network also secured top spot for large hospitals and 2nd overall.

(Sorry, are you expecting any other important results? 😉)

1Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare 
2University Health Network
4Sinai Health System
Final ranking for our 2020 competition

All our players put in a solid effort, and it helps that the competition was easy to do from a distance electronically. Over 1,300 people participated in the quick quiz on their own habits with waste reduction … nice! In the “practice what we preach” zone, this was a true zero-waste event with nary a printed poster or flyer to be found.

The real point was to see where people are, what they’re doing, and what we can do to help more people waste less. There were lots of great ideas, but with over 1300 responses and 300 unique extra ideas, I’ll give you the broad strokes:

People really give a fork

Not only do most people care about reducing waste, they understand that the best way is to stop it from happening in the first place. Case in point, when ordering takeout/delivery, 86% of you ask the restaurant to skip single use cutlery and condiments or any other extras you don’t want (cuz you have reusables, especially if home where you are way more likely to be). Nice!

one metal fork, or a thousand plastic ones? Easy answer for this crew.

A whopping 89% of you regularly take a moment to think “do I need this?” before buying, then act accordingly. Your reusable game is also strong, with over 90% regularly using reusable shopping bags, water bottles and food containers. It was high 80’s for the reusable mugs and cutlery.

An area that was not yet as popular (though the power of YET is it can develop), is buying preloved/second-hand clothing or furniture. Many were great with donating their own stuff, but buying those goods is lagging a little. Rewind to my Economics101 class (Hello Supply, have you met Demand?), both are key to making the circular economy thrive. It saves the resources (and nasty carbon emissions) of making new things plus hella cheap.

You down with PPE? Ya you know me

Thankfully, this group knows that PPE belongs in the garbage, not in recycling and not on the ground, ew! Of course, there are areas of confusion, namely face shields as some are made to be disposable (flimsy face shields) and some are made to be reused (sturdier face shields that can be sanitized). If you’re not sure, don’t be shy to ask.

The last word

We gave you the last word … space to share your +300 wonderful waste reducing ideas! So many goodies, including these…

Since I now work from home, I no longer produce waste at the hospital!

Refuse was a great addition to the R’s vs Reduce. Though looking at individual efforts is important and makes a big impact (we can always do better) we shouldn’t shy away from the responsibilities of policy makers, institution and industry have in waste reduction. It’s good if the consumer makes the decision to refuse unnecessary consumption, but wouldn’t it be better if the institutions didn’t rely on the consumer to refuse and relied on the consumer to ask for the item if the consumption is necessary?

The less we waste, the more we get!

In the grocery shop, get used to checking the shelf with produce “consume tonight” (expiring soon) usually on sale, and make a delicious dish you were not planning to.

Try to give any reusable thing a second life. If you really want to get ride of something and it may be reusable by other colleagues, post it on UHN message board and share to someone who may need it and reuse it.

Too much equipment is being brought to Pt’s room and then wasted when Patient leaves due to infection control. Having designated areas for frequently used equipment in front of patients room would improve accessibility and reduce waste.

More education on what is truly recyclable, e.g. I didn’t know until this survey that paper coffee cups are rarely recyclable!

Thanks so much for playing, and for taking the 5R’s to heart. There’s a lot going on in this world, but each one of us, and all of us together, can make a difference.