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Playing Together to Cut Carbon

Clinical Informatics team members at BC Cancer who participated in the carbon footprint game

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Every year the Energy and Environmental Sustainability (EES) team collaborate with PHSA’s Healthy Promotion Initiative Fund (HPIF) team to support Green+Leader projects in energy and environmental sustainability. Over the years, about 210 participants have benefitted from this grant initiative. In 2022, HPIF’s sustainability grant stream distributed a total of approximately $10,000 to support ten projects, highlighted in the Green+Leaders annual report.

In a determined effort to combat climate change, the BC Cancer’s Clinical Informatics team formed a group of colleagues dedicated to reducing their carbon footprint. Spearheaded by Green+Leaders Justine Sanders, Rajwant Hallan, and Tanis Wong, the group’s goal was to reduce their environmental impact by working as a team and integrating a little friendly competition.

Justine, Rajwant, and Tanis received support through the Green+Leaders Sustainability Stream of PHSA’s Health Promotion Initiatives Fund (HPIF), offered in partnership with the Energy and Environmental Sustainability team. The project was a 12-week “game,” where participants earned points for making sustainable choices like using active transportation, eating plant-based foods, or purchasing eco-friendly clothing and household items. The project team organized bi-weekly check-ins, fostering an environment of support and shared accountability. Educational newsletters were distributed, offering insights into carbon footprint reduction initiatives and providing additional opportunities to earn bonus points.

Their project brought together individuals from three centres — Vancouver, Victoria, and Kelowna. Regardless of where staff were located, they could contribute to the team’s shared goal.

We wanted to show that even in our daily lives, we can make a meaningful difference for the environment,” says Tanis Wong.

After three months, the Clinical Informatics team achieved a 10 per cent reduction in their collective carbon emissions. To measure their carbon footprint, the team used the ClimateHero carbon calculator to measure their baseline and the impacts of their efforts. Justine, Rajwant, and Tanis also surveyed their team members about their experience and 100 per cent answered that they felt motivated to reduce their carbon footprint throughout the challenge. One team member wrote, “[This was a] great way to collectively motivate each other in a supportive way in order to do something good and vital for our planet. Thank you for allowing our team to be a part of this great project!”

While the team’s immediate plans do not include continuing the carbon footprint challenge, their remarkable efforts have laid the foundation for future sustainability initiatives. Through continued collaboration and building on the lessons learned, the Clinical Informatics team hopes to inspire others and create a lasting impact on the environment.

Reflecting on their experience, the team identified some advice for other teams interested in organizing a similar team challenge. They recommend providing clear guidelines for activities that contribute to reducing carbon and conducting the project during warmer months to encourage more sustainable behaviours like cycling to work and growing produce at home.

In a world where climate change calls for urgent action, the leadership of Green+Leaders in the Clinical Informatics team at BC Cancer demonstrates that small changes can pave the way to a greener future. As they continue their journey, their commitment reminds us that collective efforts hold the key to a sustainable and thriving planet.