Talkin' Trash With UHN

Freerange, organic, green healthcare ideas

Green Wall of Fame

LC-5Find out what others at UHN are doing to help green healthcare. Remember, imitation is the greatest form of flattery.

    1. Frank Gray … Linking the need & supply – Donating to Developing Countries
    2. Maria G. Costa … Leading by Example in Housekeeping
    3. Stefano Gelmi … Lights Off When Nobody’s at Home
    4. Nancy Talbot & Tanya Wah Kan … Team Effort- Recycling In The MRI
    5. Lue-Ann Swanson … Styrofoam Phase Out in Radiation Therapy
    6. Rita Soares … Recycling, Composting, and All-Around Green Keener
    7. Janet Hall … Space Planning: Second-Hand, Top Shelf Style
    8. Olga Muir … Waste Warrior
    9. Carol Lopez … Paper (&Tree) Saver, One Nostalgic, Perforated Sheet at a Time
    10. Kelly Campbell … Electrifies Volunteering at Toronto Rehab (in a good way)
    11. Radiation Therapy Green Team … Adds a 4th R, Rescue, to Reduce, Reuse & Recycle
    12. DMOH Green Squad … Shorelines, and Coat Drives and Coffee Cups, oh my
    13. Toronto General OR Green Team … Reuse over Single Use, especially with medical supplies

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Central Processing Department (TGH)

Linking the need & supply – Donating to Developing Countries

Frank observed the surplus of exam tables at UHN and used his contacts to find them better homes. He contacted the Consulate for the Grenadine  Islands and arranged a donation from UHN of 6 exam room tables,  journals, and unused disposable items (syringes, masks, tubing, etc.).

Donating items extends the life of the product and allows people in need to use it. It is cost-effective while new materials don’t need harvesting from the earth and old materials don’t go to landfill.

As a member of the UHN Green Team, Frank also reminds his staff about energy conservation practices, ensures that recycling is done properly, and takes the time to educate his colleagues on being green.

P.S. if you have spare medical supplies at UHN, contact

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Housekeeping (TGH)

Leading by Example in Housekeeping

Maria G. Costa has been a housekeeper for over 13 years at TGH and is an active Green Team member. We honour her wonderful work to improve recycling. She keeps up-to-date with all the rules of recycling and shares her expertise with others.  Although a very busy cleaner, she goes above and beyond to put recycling in the right place. She said, “the environment is on my conscience. When I see recycling mixed up, I fix it”.

She offers a friendly smile and a pleasant reminder so staff who work in her areas have improved their habits too. She notes “it would be best for everyone and the environment if we all worked as a team, together we make the biggest difference.”. Maria wants to leave a legacy for the next generation.

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Stefano Gelmi – GREEN WALL OF FAME

Center for Global e-Health Innovation

Lights Off When Nobody’s at Home

Stefano Gelmi

The Goal

  • To engage staff to turn off lights at the end of the day to reduce energy consumption

The Actions

  • eHealth green team launched Operation TLC, UHN’s energy management program, department-wide in Aug 2010.
  • They audited the area after hours to see how many lights were left on.
  • Stefano Gelmi sent regular reminders to staff about the lights.
  • After a few months, a re-audit showed absolutely no lights left on after hours!

The Outcome

  • e-Health saved 79,702 kWh and $7976 a year from this change
  • Turning off lights is easy to do every day when you work together

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Nancy Talbot & Tanya Wah Kan – GREEN WALL OF FAME

Team Effort- Recycling In The MRI

In the MRI department at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Nancy Talbot, supervising technologist, and Tanya Wah Kan, Medical Imaging technologist, are active Green Team members that help their department recycle better and conserve energy.

Nancy and Tanya, along with the MRI Green Team, incorporate recycling issues into their staff meetings. They troubleshoot problems together, making sure there are well placed signs and bins.

Energy and Environment did a waste & recycling audit and their department earned a near perfect score! Nancy and Tanya also promote energy conservation practices and make sure all MRI staff turn off lights, computers and other electronics when not in use.

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Lue-Ann Swanson – GREEN WALL OF FAME

Styrofoam Phase Out in Radiation Therapy

Lue-Ann Swanson (now retired), the manager of Radiation Therapy at Princess Margaret and her whole department green team spearheaded a Styrofoam phase-out. Why? Styrene (found in Styrofoam©) is classified as a human carcinogen by the National Research Council (2014). It can leach out of foam food containers and cups when food or drinks are hot. As a single use items, it is also not good for the environment. Yet many patient and office areas still use Styrofoam due to its low cost and convenience.

Lue-Ann stopped the automatic order for styrofoam cup to her department. She encouraged staff to bring in a reusable cups and stocked dishwashing soap to keep it hygienic. Paper cups are still available, but are only upon request.

Lue-Ann also helped remind staff about energy conservation and recycling practices.

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Housekeeping (TGH)

Recycling, Composting, Eco-friendly Supplies and All-Around Green Keener

Rita Soares, Manager of Support Services, Housekeeping at Toronto General Hospital (TGH), has championed many greening initiatives: recycling improvements, compost, and green cleaning products. Rita is a role model to her staff.

Rita gets very animated about recycling and insists that even if people are not swayed by the environmental benefits, the financial ones are great! “With $150,000 in rebates, you can hire staff and buy medical equipment! … or you can throw it away”. Rita also spearheaded composting in the food courts which doubled Toronto General’s compost collection in 2 years.

Rita is also keen on environmentally preferable cleaning products. She has made several switches already and continues to test new products. By using less toxic products, she keeps her staff and everyone who travels through these hallways healthier and happier.

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Infrastructure (now FM-PRO)

Space Planning: Second-Hand, Top Shelf Style

Green Office Space-resized-600

Janet Hall has the lucky task of shopping for a living … even if it’s usually for signs and office furniture. Who knew purchasing is one of the best places to go green? Rather than buying new, Janet started using a purveyor of fine used office furniture which were not only eco-friendly but more cost effective, and usually superior in quality to the standard fare.

Janet shared…

“I believe UHN spends approximately $1.2 million a year (estimated) on furniture – by using used furniture we could save as much as 75%. … I recently installed 7 cubicles that would normally cost us $21,000 if we purchased them new. I paid $5,565 for the same product (well, actually a little better quality than what we normally purchase).”

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Toronto Western Orthopaedics & Rheumatology

Olga Muir, Waste Warrior


Though we love recycling, even better is the first of the 3 R’s, “Reduce”. Olga, Nurse Manager of Orthopaedics and Rheumatology on Toronto Western Hospital’s 9th floor, is the UHN Jedi-master of reduction.

When supplies are not fully used in a patient’s room, they get thrown out when the patient goes home. We not only need to buy more of those supplies again for the next patient, we pay to throw out good stuff we’ve wasted.

Olga designed a giant 3-D poster, stuck on assorted regularly used supplies, and placed a “guess how much this costs” sign next to each one. Flip the flaps to see how much for a bandage or medical tape. Infection Prevention and Control department (IPAC) recommends bringing no more than 24 hours-worth of supplies. With Olga’s board, we’ll think twice before overstocking.

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Toronto Western Combined Surgical Unit

Carol Lopez, Paper (&Tree) Saver, One Nostalgic, Perforated Sheet at a Time

Carol Lopez

Carol, an Advanced Practice Nurse Educator in Toronto Western Hospital’s 9B inpatient unit, found 2 big boxes of perforated computer paper (ancient paper in one long sheet with perforations between each page and detachable holey thingies on the side to feed the paper through the dot matrix printer). Each box contained a whopping 2,200 sheets.

Carol, along with Sylvia from Volunteer Services, detached the holey thingies, un-perforated the paper and, voila, found herself with 4,400 sheets of “free” paper. That’s 4,400 sheets of paper that won’t be wasted and that 9B won’t have to buy. And that’s just another small of example of the great things our green team does.

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Kelly Campbell – GREEN WALL OF FAME

Toronto Rehab Institute

Kelly Campbell Electrifies Volunteering at Toronto Rehab (in a good way)

Kelly Campbell Save Paper

Congratulations to Kelly Campbell, Program Coordinator for Volunteer Services, and the first on the wall from Toronto Rehab Institute. Kelly changed a very paper-heavy process to online, and saved many trees doing it.

Each new volunteer once received a ginormous info packet. After Kelly joined the UHN Green Team, the first thing she noticed was the paper … 40 sheets/packet and 450 volunteers meant a frightening 18,000 sheets of paper every year! Kelly PDF-ed the training documents and sends them electronically. She offers a printed version, but has had exactly zero requests (nice number).

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Radiation Therapy Green Team – GREEN WALL OF FAME

Princess Margaret Cancer Centre

Adds a 4th R … Rescue … to Reduce, Reuse & Recycle!


Congratulations to our amazing Radiation Therapy Green Team! This team, led by the wonderful Veng Chhin, really works together to Green UHN on many levels, including their Recycle Rescue operation.

Frustrated by seeing so many cans and bottles in the garbage, they use a special tool to rescue recyclables from garbages in their unit … at least a bag full every day. They even made special green team vests for their Rescue Patrol.

On this team we have: Veng Chhin, Sherrill Archer, Uzma Awan, Angie Cardella, Biu Chan, He Bruce Chan, Kitty Chan, Lily Chau, Nelissa Chaudhry, Susan Chen, Amanda Hogan, Heather Jang, Julie Kang, Valerie Kelly, Fatima Khalfan, Laxmi Khemraj-Balram, Amanda Lamb, Alice Leung, Tamerou Messeret, Nathaniel So, Patricia Toolsie & Olive Wong.

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Shorelines, and Coat Drives and Coffee Cups, oh my

DMOH-wCaptionCongratulations to the DMOH Green Squad! Led by the energetic and unstoppable Jennifer Ryan, they have so many sustainable notches on their belt, we’ll list the best, or read the full story:

  • Shoreline Cleanup
  • Winter clothing drive – collecting and distributing around 30 winter coats and tons of hats, mitts, etc.
  • Corrected and improved all recycling signage on two floors of 700 University
  • Created personal recycling reference cards for individual workstations.
  • Rescued paper coffee cups for recycling by bringing them from their site where they are not considered recyclable, to a building where they were. Over 6000 coffee cups were rescued before the recycling program closed for coffee cups in July 2019.
  • BYOP&U – Bring your own plates & utensils lunch staff meetings
  • Right-size food orders for meetings to reduce waste, and asking catering to provide food in recyclable containers and skip the straws
  • Information hub on all things green and recyclable
  • Advocated for stronger behind-the-scenes collection carts for housekeeping to keep waste and recycling separate.

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Toronto General OR – GREEN WALL OF FAME

Reuse over Single Use, especially with medical supplies

TGH OR GT Green Wall of Fame 2021 (004)

Congratulations to the Toronto General Hospital Operating Room Green Team! Led by Dr. Laura Donahoe, this entire team epitomizes enterprising and enthusiastic environmental efforts. This is a group that gets things done, then looks for a new project to do even more.

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4 thoughts on “Green Wall of Fame

  1. A great blog post – not the first one that I have read on your website and have been impressed with. I hope you continue to write more as the information you provide has been very helpful to me and my partner.


  2. Thanks Matt – I am really glad you are finding the posts relevant. We will keep posting as long as folks keep reading.


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