Co-op Tales from UHN

Posted on behalf of Alondra

Hi everyone! My name is Alondra Garcia, a fourth-year student at the University of Toronto in the Environmental Sciences program, and for the last four months I was the sustainability intern here at UHN. As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end and so does my placement here. Before saying my goodbye, I’d like to tell you a little bit about what I have been doing and what I have learnt during my time working with the Energy and Environment Department at UHN.

Waste and Recycling

In my opinion, recycling and reduction of waste is one the biggest challenges towards a greener future, simply because it depends on the collaboration and change of behavior of all who consume, basically, all of us. My first surprise while doing waste audits in the hospitals and rehabilitation centers was that most departments recycle and were doing it well. Keep it up people! However, there is still A LOT to do to divert waste from landfills and our oceans. For recycling to be efficient, it needs to be 90% uncontaminated or it will go to the garbage. Therefore, we need to avoid “wish-cycle”, hoping that what we throw in the recycle bin is actually recyclable. For this is necessary to be informed of the local rules and be aware that UHN has different recycling rules from the city of Toronto.

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Here are a few reminders on common items that CANNOT be recycled:

  • Straws, stand up pouches, chip bags and candy bar wraps are NOT recyclable. They go in the garbage bin.
  • Napkins, tissues and paper towels goes in the compost bin. If compost is not available, throw them in the garbage bin.
  • Masks and gloves are NOT recyclable. They go in the garbage bin.
  • Containers still covered in food, contaminate the whole recycle bag. Rinse out that container before recycling it.

Also, don’t forget that there are new recycling rules in place at UHN with a few important changes:

  • Soft plastics and black plastics are no longer recyclable. They must be thrown in the trash.
  • Coffee cups are no longer recyclable either. Coffee cups must be thrown in the garbage, but lids and sleeves go in the recycle bin. To avoid all the trouble in remembering all this, I strongly recommend you shifting to reusable coffee mugs. They even have some perks when you take them to your favorite coffee shop such as discounts or extra coffee. There is a new and updated list of green vendors at UHN coming in the following weeks.

Operation Green

This summer I was the coordinator of Operation Green, a student-run initiative that collects unused medical supplies and donate them to communities in need around the world. They have been working in collaboration with UHN staff, medical students from the University of Toronto, and humanitarian organizations since 2011 to reduce the environmental impact of the healthcare field while increasing social responsibility.

Our next collection is happening on August 21st, so if you have any medical supplies that you would like to donate or if you have any questions, kindly contact us by email to operationgreen@uhn.ca.

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Transportation

This year, our department installed 36 new Electric Vehicles stations at UHN and it is so nice to see that people are already using them! If you ever think about changing your car for an electric/hybrid vehicle, here is some extra motivation. Reducing carbon emissions not only helps our fight against drastic climate change but reduces the pollution that causes respiratory illness. Now, you can come to work, get a convenient spot, and charge your car zero emission car for free.

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More details on the EV chargers here: https://talkintrashwithuhn.com/2019/05/21/i-wanna-walk-down-to-electric-avenue/

For this to be efficient, you must know that these parking spots are exclusively for electric/hybrid vehicles, if your car isn’t either of them you are risking being fined for parking here.

Another even better option to reduce your impact while commuting to work is to use your bike. Summer is ending but it doesn’t mean you can’t start now! If you missed any of the sessions offered during this summer regarding cycling in Toronto, here is a summary of the main things to know.

Link to Lessons of Road Rules 101 https://talkintrashwithuhn.com/2019/06/18/lessons-from-road-rules-101/

Lastly, I want to thank the amazing team of the Energy and Environment department for being so welcoming and giving me the opportunity to learn from them. To get an idea of the great job they are doing, let me tell you that they received a very well-deserved recognition in the Local Impact Awards at UHN, about month ago. Congratulations!

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Climate Change is a Health Care Issue

A lack of progress in reducing emissions and building adaptive capacity threatens both human lives and the viability of the national health systems they depend on, with the potential to disrupt core public health infrastructure and overwhelm health services.

This is not a quote from Greenpeace, Al Gore, or David Suzuki. It is from The Lancet, one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world. More and more health organizations are recognizing climate change as the biggest global health threat of the 21st century. Canadian health organizations, such as the Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, and others are urging decisive action from political and business leaders, institutions, and individuals to reign in CO2 emissions that are causing climate change.

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Flash Flooding in Toronto. Photo Source

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Roses are Red, Polypropylene Sterilization Wrap is Blue

Roses are Red, Polypropylene Sterilization Wrap is Blue

Remember your 3 R’s from school? No, not Readin’, Ritin’ and Rithmatic :).

If you’ve been around the blog, you know that Reducin’, Reusin’ and Recyclin’ are listed in order of importance, with much bigger bangs for reduce and reuse. With that, I have a great story to share from our friends at the Radiation Therapy Green Team. Continue reading

The Sixth Sensor – I See Live People!

Looks like I might be starting a trend referencing old 90’s movies on the Talkin’ Trash blog. This time, with Halloween fast approaching, we are taking a spookier turn as we look at the recent stairwell lighting project at TRI University Centre.

6th sense quote

If you want to hear something really scary, 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

RIP faxed X-rays. Hello rescuing 450,000 sheets of paper!

"The Realm of Obsolete Technology" By Adam Baron, 14"x21"
image credit:”The Realm of Obsolete Technology” By Adam Baron,  contemporary prints and posters

 

Cassette tapes, rotary phones, floppy discs, typewriters and cathode ray tube TV’s … all technologies that Continue reading

UHN: A Medical Innovator, But Also An Energy Innovator

My previous blog described a unique energy conservation project at UHN’s Princess Margaret Cancer Research Tower (PMCRT). With innovative contaminant sensing technology, we were able to convert our research lab exhaust system from constant flow to variable flow, which significantly decreased loading on the exhaust fan motors. As described in the blog, this change produced a reduction in electricity peak demand (kW) of 38.5% and reduction in overall annual electricity consumption (kWh) of 42.7%.

We thought this was a Continue reading