April 22 is Earth Day, a joyous celebration of and call to action for our shared home. This is a day to take stock of where we are and where we need to go in our collective journey to sustainability (the best and only way to travel now). With that, we have some very good news to share …

We are as pleased as bees on milkweed to announce that University Health Network, employer of thousands of vital clinical and administrative staff (as well as the Talkin’ Trash with UHN Team), has been named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers! This prestigious competition is run by the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project. Their 2021 list was in Monday’s Globe & Mail with UHN honoured among 85 esteemed organizations across Canada, with only two in healthcare.

There are a lot of reasons why, and a lot of people collaborating to make it so. Say hi to the over 700 staff members volunteering some precious time on the green team. Behold the over 300 energy projects that fight climate change and make us more resilient. In the last decade, these have helped UHN cut our greenhouse gas emissions by 25% (take THAT, Climate Change!) and save $30 million in utility costs.

For some recent examples, hello Noventa WET System and Deep Lake Water Cooling, not to mention the loads of gardens, bike parking and electric vehicle charging stations. Or look way, way back to 1999 when our own Ed Rubinstein started as UHN’s lone Environmental Coordinator.

When it comes to sustainable organizations, everyone is a part of the solution, though our leaders really set the tone. With that, we are thrilled with the words of UHN’s President and CEO, Dr. Kevin Smith, in his email to the organization today …

“Today on April 22, please join me in acknowledging Earth Day and celebrating the incredible culture of sustainability here at UHN. This culture and strong track record are driven by the efforts of our Energy & Environment colleagues within UHN’s Facilities Management – Planning, Redevelopment & Operations (FM-PRO) department.

The team – alongside more than 700 staff who volunteer as part of the Green Team – work hard to bring a green lens to our vision of A Healthier World, furthering our collective delivery of patient and planet-centered care, research and education…”

Click here for the full version

And for some much-needed joy on a personal scale, celebrate all month long with Earth Month BINGO. It’s a fun way to fly your green colours and see what else we can all strive for. Anyone is welcome to play our BINGO card (click the download button below), though just TeamUHN should email to us at green@uhn.ca or share on Socials (#EarthMonthUHN) for a chance to win one of several $50 gift cards for Fresh City Farms (yum!), or some lovely gift baskets donated by our vendor, Waste Management of Canada.

If you’re a little swamped and want the nutshell version of what you can do to #RestoreOurEarth today and every day:

  • Turn it off before you GO GO! Turn off items (electronics, lights) when not in use.
  • Practice the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse & Recycle, and learn the different recycling rules at work and home.
  • Walk or bike wherever you can, and if you need to drive, switch to an electric vehicle.
  • Swap some meat-based meals for plants. Extra joy if you grow them yourself in an edible garden.
  • Refuse unnecessary items (straws, plastic cutlery).

And finally, a little Earth Day treat from my own garden …

I planted this Magnolia back in 2004. It took a while to take root, and some years I worried it might not survive. But a little love (compost and water) helped it persevere from tiny sapling into this gorgeousness. Even a little late-April snow can’t keep this tree’s spirit down.

Happy Earth Day! (everyday)