Do you need a bag with that? – Talkin’ Trash, October 2017

UHN produces a lot of waste – over 45,000 pounds a day. Recycling and waste reduction are good for the environment, good for our health and save UHN money, so it’s worth it to get comfortable with your organization’s recycling, composting & waste reduction programs and, even better, take our Waste Reduction Week Interhospital Challenge.

A Can In the Bluebox Is Worth Two…

The thing about clichés is that we’ve used them so often that they’ve lost their meaning. Not mention that clichés often contradict each other…like “the early bird gets the worm” and “good things come to those who wait”,  and sometimes they can mask serious issues…sure, the early bird gets the worm is meant to be a good thing…unless you’re the worm.  And don’t get me started about “out of sight, out of mind”.

Too late…you got me started. But first…a bit of animal recycling (Editors note: in the spirit of good ol’ behind covering, please note that no animals were recycled during production of this newsletter. Instead, their images are being used to demonstrate equivalent weights because what the heck does a tonne of garbage look like anyway?).

 

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Bike Like Mike

There is no better time of year than now to ride your bike to work (or to the gym, or to the grocery store, or just for fun)! Fresh crisp air and cool morning temperatures help to ensure you won’t end up a sweaty mess on arrival. Biking regularly can help you get in shape, feel better, improve your health, and it’s just plain fun! Check out this TED Talk about the awesome ways that biking can change you.

Bikeshare

I’ve been meaning to write a blog on biking ever since the large expansion of Toronto’s Bike Share system this summer. I’ve been a Bike Share member for about 5 years, going back to the days when it was known as Bixi Bike. Every time there is an expansion to the system, it opens up the city a little bit more. Expansions have added bikes directly outside the front door of UHN offices at Lucliff Place as well as a short walk from Toronto Rehab’s Bickle Centre at Queen Street and Close Ave. With stations also in front of TGH, TRI-UC, TWH, and PMH, UHNers all over the city have great access to the system. As part of the recent expansion, stations have been added in the west end along the lake shore trails and in the east end, expanding further into Scarborough towards the Beaches and along the Danforth subway line.

I use these bikes all the time (44 rides in September) to get around faster and cheaper than any other transit infrastructure. There is nothing more satisfying than flying by a bunch of road raging single occupant vehicles and getting to your destination faster than you could have if you drove, took the TTC, or walked. In August, I was returning from Europe and traveled home from Pearson using the train to Union and Toronto Bike Share – total travel time from the plane touching down to my couch with a cold beverage was 1 hour and 8 minutes, including waiting for that guy blocking everyone from getting off the plane while he rearranges his bag in the overhead compartment for 15 minutes! Total cost: $9 for train. Bike share membership is only $90 per year, so if you are using it in place of TTC or cabs even semi-frequently, it pays back fast. With a membership, bike trips under 30 minutes are free.

With more and more safe biking infrastructure cropping up in the city, even “normal” people are starting to see biking as a good option. Our fearless leader, Ed, has also recently jumped into the fray, although I don’t support references to the most annoying song Queen ever made!

Another benefit of biking in the cooler temperatures of fall is that we will start to see less and less of this unfortunate sight:

Empty Bike Share

Bike Share station suffering from “summer syndrome”

Although the bikes are clunky and the stations might be empty the odd time, I love the convenience of never having to worry about any of the following:

  • my bike getting stolen
  • purchasing an expensive lock and carrying it around
  • carrying around other items that are commonly stolen, such as bike seat, lights, wheels, etc.
  • storing a bike in my small apartment
  • greasing chains and other maintenance

If you are thinking of becoming a first time Bike Share member, you should know that your Presto Card will get you 40% off your first year! That means a whole year of biking would be only $54 or less than half of a one month Metropass. You can’t afford not to try it! Check out this webinar for all you need to know about Presto.

With the end of Smart Commute Month coming up on October 6th I would like to challenge you to continue your smart commute beyond this month. Continue to reduce your reliance on single occupant vehicles and improve your health, fitness, and sanity! From my experience, the growing Toronto Bike Share system is a convenient and affordable alternative. I hope you give it a try and join me out there in a bike lane near you.

Zen and the Art of Safe Hazardous Waste Disposal – Talkin’ Trash, July 2017

When it comes to tension in life, there’s both good and not-so-good.

Waiting to see if Astro’s pitcher Lance McCullers will throw his crazy grip curve ball (I can’t even get my fingers to go like that, let alone throw a ball) and the anticipation in wondering if JD will pull it into the left field bleachers…that’s the good kind.

Finding a needle, even if unused, in the garbage…not so good.

Following a major-IV chord with the minor-IV instead of resolving to the expected major-I chord (sorry…had a buncha years of music theory that I was really looking to use)…good tension.

Finding out that a bottle of blue gloop was dumped down the drain, putting hospital staff and the environment at risk…not so good.

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Electric Vehicle Test Drives

Electric Vehicle Test Drives

I recently visited the Electric Vehicle Discovery Centre here in Toronto.  It’s operated by Plug’n Drive, a non-profit organization focused on “accelerating the adoption of Continue reading

The indoor environment affects your health, here’s what you can do about it:

The indoor environment affects your health, here’s what you can do about it:

A snake plant, pictured above, is one of the many plants that can naturally filter your air.  Near the end of this article there’s a link to six other plants that are also great air filters.

Making an indoor environment healthy for human occupants is not as simple as it seems.   There are Continue reading

Spring Greening

Now that we are groggily emerging from our hibernation of sitting on the couch in a Snuggie and binge TV watching while eating cookie dough ice cream, it’s time to think about spring cleaning. On second thought, sweeping the garage, sorting old junk, and throwing mittens in a drawer sounds awful – let’s talk about spring greening instead! Here are a few tips for an energy efficient spring and summer: Continue reading

Do Unto Hazardous Waste Disposal as You Would Have Others Do Unto You – Talkin’ Trash, March 2017

The Mystery of Chemical & Pharmaceutical Waste

(apologies to mystery solvers everywhere)

Curiosity.

Aside from a few unlucky felines, it may very well be the defining characteristic of Homo sapiens, the distinguishing feature that sets us apart from most other living things on our fair planet.  It’s the instinctual drive to, like a toddler of the species Homo sapiens hopped up on multi-grain, GMO free, naturally sweetened “Os”, continually ask “Why? Why? Why?”…and later pose the perhaps more important query, “Why not?”

And we at UHN are fortunate to be surrounded by many who have become proficient at not only asking “why”, but then answering their own questions. And while I definitely do not put myself in the same league as these question askers and answerers, I do find myself pondering the occasional mystery from time to time…which, as of late, has had me coming back to the same question:  Why do things taste better when wrapped and in a tortilla?

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