In a true full-circle ending, I started my time as the student Sustainability Coordinator in the first wave of COVID-19 closures, and ended it in the second. I’m so fortunate to have been able to join the Energy & Environment team, especially in such uncertain times.

Reflecting the workplace’s constant changes, I was trained by the student before me over Teams video calling. This also birthed the new tradition of a ‘passing the torch Teams high five’, captured below in a picture from April 2020, which looking back feels like just yesterday.

Angela passing on the torch to me (not from a beach, but from Waterloo with a custom Teams background)

Even before I was allowed to go back on site, I was able to work on some outdoors based projects, like auditing UHN’s bike infrastructure to figure out where there was a demand for higher parking capacity. In the process, we were also able to donate nine abandoned bikes, even clearing up space for more cycling commuters.

A large part of my role, in the beginning, involved coordinating how our existing programs would resume their social distanced variations. I’m glad to say that the Shut the Sash, Ice Pack Recycling and Operation Green were all able to make modified comebacks!

With donations to Operation Green, even post-closure, we collected approximately 580 lbs of expired medical supplies, and get them sent out to remote locations via Not Just Tourists. It’s great that these supplies can still make it to areas where they can be put to good use, especially with increasing supply chain issues.

Some of the Operation Green shipments ready to go, plus some of their wonderful donors.

I’m so grateful for all of the wonderful people I was able to work with over the past eight months. Whether I was able to meet them in person or only over Teams, everyone was always friendly and welcoming. Whenever I did run into the team on site, it always felt like we’ve already met beyond just a screen.

Passing the torch to Emma (and improving the virtual high five accuracy)

Also a warm welcome to Emma Wosik who will be taking over the role, I hope as closures begin to relax again she can continue to expand the green initiatives at UHN facilities!