And the Royal Goblet of Reusable Cups goes to…


With 2,556 Waste Warriors from 7 healthcare & research organizations repping 23 sites across Ontario, Waste Reduction Week 2019 was hands-down our biggest EVER! We had 4 first-timers, so a massive shout-out to newbies: Norfolk General Hospital, Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, Michael Garron Hospital / Toronto East Health Network, and Unity Health Toronto. Welcome!

We also went from 3-R’s to 5 (or 6-R’s if you count reuse/repair as 2). The bigger the slice of upside-down pyramid, the better, though all are good.


We all win just by playing the game and thinking about how to get wasteless. Don’t worry if your personal score was less than stellar. The fixes were right there in the challenge so we know what to do next time. Not to sound cheesy, but that’s the point … to try and be better every day and every year, not just for special events.

Yada, yada, you want to know who won, don’t you 😉? To level the playing field, the winning organization has the greatest participation rate (#participants divided by #staff). This lets small fries to play fair with, um, big potatoes (is that a thing?).


Waste Reduction Week Inter-Hospital Challenge: 2019 results – Congrats HDGH!

Congratulations to Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare!!! First time out of the gate and already top spot. Kudos to Norfolk General Hospital, soooooooo close, just 1% from #1! A special mention for SickKids …they had the strongest final push, going from 6th place to 4th in the last few days. And, not that I’m biased, never … but a giant shout-out to University Health Network for having the greatest number of participants over all!


Now we know how the organizations did, but how did YOU do? (ya, not that all Talkin’ Trash readers played, some can’t, but you are pretty awesome so it’s a fair assumption). You scored a solid 75% on average, and 1/5 scored over 90%!


Most were pretty good about Recycling, with an average score of 93%! Yay you! Where we need a little help is on knowing when to stop … e.g. don’t wishcycle trash into the blue bin or you’ll spoil the bunch. Here, you hovered at 65%, which means a third of us are accidentally contaminating the blue bin with stuff that should go to Landfill. Yikes! To be fair, the recycling rules in the challenge are not universal. They are correct for most of the participating hospitals, but may be different than your city or town.

Our homework (arrrgh homework, blech) is to look up our recycling rules at work and local waste wizards at home. See what needs to go in the trash and put ‘er there next time. Even better, make a wasteless change like lug-a-mug and brew instead of single-use coffee cups and pods.

For our new R … Refuse … you did great! 76% of you say no to the straw. 73% say no to single-use cutlery when ordering take-out or delivery (cuz you packed your own, or you have real cutlery in your kitchen). And a whopping 434 of you made your own suggestions. Too many to list, obvi, but here’s a smattering…

  • bring my own take out containers (tupperware) when dining at a restaurant

  • Now work from original emails while changing payroll schedules instead of printing.

  • I don’t buy food if it comes in Styrofoam. I’ll buy something else.

  • Don’t dispose clothes I no longer use, I donate them.

  • Return all packaging to the store that sold it. It belongs to them not me.

  • Use my shirt instead of napkins

Lots of great ideas (maybe not the last one 😂).

In the Reduce zone, 85% of you choose fewer but better-made things that last longer. 67% of you borrow/rent/share those occasionally-used things like tools or decorations. This sharing economy grows by the day.

You Reused a lot! 94% of you love your reusable food containers. 93% reuse water bottles and bags. For mugs and cutlery, each scored 87%, a solid answer.

Thanks so much to the 2,556 who played this year. It was a lot of fun, but also a really helpful way to get everyone, even your grumpiest colleagues, to do the right thing. Thanks for getting wasteless with us!


P.S. UHNers: if you missed the challenge, you can still test your recycling rules knowledge here: 


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

Styrofoam Stars and Shredded Paper Snow

For your holiday celebrations, we looked into the archives for our greenest holiday decorations. We’d love to take credit for this, but it was actually Toronto General Hospital’s Housekeeping and Facilities Department. They decorated with almost every single bit reused or recycled (and would’ve reduced new stuff purchased = all 3 R’s present and accounted for). So deck the halls with boughs of cardboard supply boxes…falalalala…

Happy Green Holidays from all of us at Talkin’ Trash with UHN!

Olga Muir, Waste Warrior


Olga Muir, Nurse Manager TWH

When people think about being green, often the first thing that comes to mind is recycling. And though recycling is a favourite of ours, even better is the first of the 3 R’s (points if you yelled out “Reduce!” while reading this). I’ll introduce you to the UHN Jedi-master of reduction, our very own Olga Muir. Olga has made it part of her life’s work to ensure all her staff really think about each and every medical supply they carry into a patient’s room.

When something goes into a patient’s room, generally that’s its last stop. Medical supplies are very monogamous that way. If supplies go in that don’t get used, we not only need to buy those supplies again for the next patient, (here’s the insult-to-injury part) we pay to throw out good stuff we’ve wasted. As the Continue reading

Waste Reduction Week for the Green you Seek

Break out the reusable bags and travel mugs cuz UHN is celebrating Waste Reduction Week! From October 15 – 21, we hope everyone takes a moment to think about the things we use and see if there’s an opportunity to switch it, not pitch it. Granted, we’re kinda keen on every week being waste reduction week, but let’s get the babysteps going.

To get in the spirit, our friends at Mount Sinai invited us to attend a screening of The Clean Bin Project

When: Tuesday, October 16 at noon

or Wednesday, October 17 at 5pm

Where: Mount Sinai Hospital in the Ben Sadowski Auditorium on the 18th floor

Who Can Come: Anyone from UHN or Mount Sinai

What’s it About?: The Clean Bin Project…A comedic documentary with a positive approach instead of the usual doom and gloom environmental film. In this competition where less is more, a couple try to stop buying stuff and produce zero waste for a year. Easier said than done.

Can’t get to the movie, but want the Coles Notes version of everyday things you can do to reduce your waste (documentary film-making optional)?

Top ten tips from the Clean Bin Project

1. Stop using plastic bags

2. Set up your Recycling in a convenient place

3. Compost!

4. Recycle everything you (and your municipality) can

5. Give up Take Out Containers

6. Check the package BEFORE you buy it

7. Buy secondhand

8. DIY (Do It Yourself)

9. Get educated

10. Let businesses know how you feel

For more detailed tips, click here and if you have an even better tip, why not leave a comment?

Hope to see you at the movies!


Revolution #2. 1-Reduce, 2-Reuse, 3-Recycle

Look at Marsha polishing up on her 3 R’s and so totally getting that they’re listed in order of importance.

image credit: