Yesterday evening I had the honour of serving as a judge for the University of Toronto’s Emerging Leaders for Environmental Sustainability in Healthcare (ELESH)’s Sustainable Health Care Challenge. This year, in addition to going virtual (and maybe because it went virtual) the Challenge was opened up to teams of healthcare students from across Canada who were asked to take on the ever more pressing (and always daunting) issue of single use products. The five showcase finalists were given all of three minutes to present their ideas and show how they would not only reduce environmental impact, but also that implementation was feasible and how there would be benefits for other problems such as health-equity or justice.

All the teams did a great job. I was impressed by the ideas. I was impressed by the energy. I was impressed with the quality of the presentations given the short time the teams had to prepare. But most of all I was impressed how the teams, already very busy at work and at school, during the most acute public health crisis we’ve seen in a long time, found the time to step back from their day-to-day and say, “there’s got to be a more sustainable way of doing this”. And that, in my mind, made all of the teams leaders and all of healthcare the winner.