Recycling Champion: Vanessa Yu
Health authority: Providence Health Care
Facility: St. Paul’s Laboratory
Position: Cytotechnologist, Cytology – Anatomic Pathology
Date interviewed: Tuesday, April 12, 2016
As a Green+Leader and Recycling Champion, Vanessa Yu is a strong advocate for sustainable practices in her department.
Describe your role as a Recycling Champion.
“I am the resource person for the recycling program in the department. I also liaise with Sonja, the Recycling and Sustainability Coordinator; I helped her implement the recycling program in the department. With our bigger bins, I’ve seen the volume of recycling increase.”
What inspired you to become a Recycling Champion?
“I became a Green+Leader in 2012, and became a Recycling Champion as part of that role. I believe we should all be accountable of our actions and our footprint. I wanted to start taking responsibility. We, as health-care professionals, are serving the public — and in the laboratory, many of the chemicals we use can be harmful to the environment.”
How do “green behaviours,” such as recycling, affect patient care?
“I think, big picture, it contributes to our well-being. Most importantly, whatever we use to treat a patient shouldn’t come back to them in a harmful way. A healthy planet and a healthy environment is to the benefit of the patient when they leave the hospital.”
What has been your biggest challenge yet?
“Overcoming the naysayers. Some people think that their actions won’t make a difference — I need to show that we can work together to lower our footprint and make a bigger impact. It’s also a challenge because of the industry we are in; we can’t recycle most items and to ensure quality care many of the reagents we use, for example, can only be used once. And so what we can actually recycle in this setting is limited.”
What are your future goals as a Recycling Champion?
“I would like to make a department-specific waste segregation guide. I’m also hoping to organize a waste segregation re-education campaign for the staff. I think it could contribute to improved recycling practices. I also hope to coordinate more engagement projects — this is not a job that you can do on your own!”