The calendar has moved from April to May, and Earth Month has come to a close. As always, the goal is to go beyond the month. Rather than doom and gloom, it was heartening to see how many people are really interested in how they can help turn climate change around, both at work and at home.
So what happened?
A lot! We had 516 participants across UHN! Staff of all stripes … clinical, administrative, research, support services … took part in some way.
There’s a lot to being green, so we broke it up into easy, free-range, organic chunks, some live, some online, all good. Each week, we activated a new snack-sized quiz. These are all still open if you’d like a refresh or missed it the first time.
We started with Climate Change (brave the biggie first), then Energy & Water (🎵turn it off before you go-go…), Green Transportation (a surprisingly powerful ways to reduce personal pollution), 5-R’s Waste Less (remembering Refuse, Reduce and Reuse are even more robust than Recycle or Rot), and culminating with Food & Garden (the more joyous and tasty parts of planet-friendliness, especially if you grow your own food and then eat it). Over 400 people did the quizzes and I’m really pleased at the most popular. Climate Change is all the rage (in both senses of the word). 135 people played and scored an average of 91%! Smart and sustainable … nice! Acting on Climate Change is the central pillar of everything we do, so please give it a look.
In the IRL world, we partnered with our friends at Wellness to swap seeds. This proved so popular, that they kept it going all month long! If you’d like some bee-friendly pollinator flower seeds, we just dropped off a bunch. It has handy info on the back on how to join the Green Team (spoiler alert, just contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, easy peasy).
Back to virtual, on April 11 we had a great joint presentation, Sustainability in Research, hosted by the Office of Research Trainees (ORT). The presentation was in 3 parts, for a very well-rounded experience:
- Climate Resilient and Low Carbon Sustainable Health Systems by Fiona Miller, Professor of Health Policy and Director of CASCADES and Center for Sustainable Health Systems
- Energy Efficiency Initiatives at UHN and The Quest to Decarbonize at UHN and at Home by Michael Kurz, Team Lead, Energy & Innovation, UHN
- Strategies Researchers Can Use to Work Sustainably by Maria Butt, Sustainability Coordinator, UHN Energy & Environment Department.
Missed it? Catch up here!
Though we meant to have a Nature Restoration session on Earth Day itself, April 22, Mother Nature had other ideas, so we rain-dated it to the 23rd.
Lots of fun was had by all! Under the leadership of Cherry Beach Nature Steward, Anna Hoad, we cleared some invasive and harmful species like Burdock (funfact: the “”burr” in Burdock is where we get the biomimicry idea for Velcro), as well as garlic mustard, which just takes over everything. Toronto Nature Stewards help out all over the city, every week, and are always happy to put new hands to work.
On April 28, over 40 people joined us virtually on how to break up with fossil fuels, plus learn about the pros and cons of bio-plastics. The main takeaways for breaking up with fossil fuels is that there is grant money available for us to get a jump-start on it at home (at the time of writing, it’s up to a whopping $10,000, plus interest-free loans up to $40,000). It is totally doable and we have the technology (heat pumps, insulation, even solar and battery storage on the grant list). To learn more about the energy audit program visit:
For specific questions on home energy audits, reach out to: email@example.com
Missed it? Catch up here!
In Part 1, Mike talks about some pretty stellar projects at UHN that help us save energy and emissions, plus detailed his own journey at home to slay the fossil fuel dragon.
In part 2, Andrew and Mehdi show us how we can do this at home (slide 12 shows the process on 1 page)
Part 3 had Ed Rubinstein take a critical look at bioplastics. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy of the presentation. It got into some interesting territory, like…
- What are “bioplastics”?
- What does “biodegradable” mean?
- What are the potential benefits of bioplastics?
- Are there other environmental concerns with bioplastics?
- What questions should I ask when evaluating bioplastic products?
- Are environmental claims verified?
- What process would we need to put in place to collect biodegradable products?
- What happens to bioplastics collected in my hospital?
- Are bioplastics worth collecting?
Prizes? Who said prizes?
Of course, there were prizes to be had, with each of the 516 eligible to win just for participating,. We had 6 lucky winners of $50 gift cards for Chapters/Indigo (for the mind), or Lee Valley Tools (for the hands, especially the garden). Congratulations to … drumroll …
- Joann V (Toronto General)
- Sutha S (Toronto Western)
- Cynthia P (TRI – University Centre)
- Alex G (Michener Institute)
- Mikaeel G (Princess Margaret Cancer Centre)
- Chavi G (TRI – Bickle Centre)
Not to sound cheesy, but participating in Earth month is a reward in itself. We know government and business needs to do the heavy lifting here, but when each individual starts working on this, we send a signal that this is where we want to be and how we want to live. Talk to your friends, family and coworkers, maybe join a green team?
You are not alone … there’s a whole world out there. Let’s keep it that way. Happy Earth Month!