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Setting Green Goals

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The communal impact of Suzan Lee’s personal sustainability goals

While others were tending to their sourdough starters, Providence Health Care Orthopaedics Departmental Admin Suzan Lee decided to assuage some of the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic by challenging herself to reduce her carbon footprint.

At first, Suzan set personal goals. She began by intentionally purchasing items with less or no plastic packaging, repairing objects and clothing instead of buying new and travelling less. With fewer social obligations and less rushing around, Suzan was able to continuously reflect on her environmental goals, what she really needed and what she truly hoped to achieve. She further committed to vacationing locally, swearing off personal air travel and continuing her decision to go car free.

There is this idea that once you own a car, whenever you drive it’s free. But really it’s not. There is a cost every time you get in your vehicle


Aware of these hidden costs, Suzan has decided that forgoing car ownership and relying, instead, on Vancouver’s car shares and public transit services is more preferable for her eco-lifestyle.

It’s a sense of belonging that only grows whenever Suzan shares her sustainability goals with family, friends and colleagues. After attending a Sustainable Transportation session – a series hosted by the Energy and Environmental Sustainability (EES) team, she invited EES and Integrated Protection Services to present at a staff meeting about the Providence transit incentive program. This program offers Providence staff a 15% subsidy on monthly transit passes, and stored transit credit.

After the presentation to her team, made entirely possible by Suzan, participation in the program, by Providence staff jumped from a monthly average of 87 people, to 160 and 184 people in the months following. Suzan was gratified with the positive impact it had on the individual sustainability goals of her colleagues and on the adoption of the transit-incentive program.

Her goals took time and effort to achieve, but for Suzan, they felt necessary and invigorating. They also helped foster a feeling of greater connection to her loved ones and to her neighbourhood during the isolation of the pandemic.

Environmental sustainability is about making a sincere effort to improve the health of our ecosystem. This ecosystem is everyone’s home, including my own and those I love


Suzan is deeply inspired by the diverse ways her network incorporates sustainability into their everyday lives. And her next goals? Suzan hopes to work towards a future with more walkable neighbourhoods and mixed housing and amenities — one where it’s convenient for everyone to be less reliant on personal transportation and move at a more sustainable pace.