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Sustainability opportunities are all around for Green+Leaders at BC Cancer Surrey

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At BC Cancer Surrey, a group of Green+Leaders found their stride working together in 2022. Nisha, Cara-Lee, Asha, Yuki, Mel, Jor, Cher and Adrian were busy in the last year promoting more sustainable practices at work.

The group have different roles at the agency and their work only sometimes intersects. It’s their involvement with the GreenCare Network that really brought them together. The team formed way back in 2012, around the time when the Green+Leaders program first started. The team enjoys shared, distributed leadership, and each member brings their own strengths and abilities to the team.

Adrian, Clinical Services Manager, has been involved with sustainability initiatives at Provincial Health Services Authority for over five years and acts as a chair and organizer for the team’s meetings. He enjoys educating and working with his colleagues to reduce their environmental impact. In 2017, he developed a program that recycled over 150 kilograms of plastic in just six months. Cara-Lee and Mel bring their creative brains to the team. Mel has been behind at least two successful Earth Day events and Cara-Lee has consistently thought of ways to keep the team’s current initiatives sustained. By far, Mel is the longest standing Green+Leader and is one of the originals!

To celebrate Earth Day in April, the group organized a number of ways for BC Cancer Surrey team members to get involved and learn more about sustainability.

The theme for the year was “Lower our Carbon Footprint and Invest in Our Planet.” They created four informational posters, each on a different topic: the carbon footprint of different foods, green transportation choices, recycling coffee pods and a reminder to turn off devices when they’re not in use. Each day during Earth Week 2022, the regional team sent out an infographic via email speaking to a sustainability topic, created by their own team members.

They also organized a contest to win GreenCare prize packages with two ways for staff to participate: either submit a photo of a favourite spot in nature, or a recipe for a delicious meatless dish. Adventure-seeking staff submitted stunning photos of waters, lands, and skies across B.C. and Alberta. Those with gifts in the kitchen shared recipes for cabbage rolls, kimchi, aloo gobi and more. These Green+Leaders showed that there are many entry points into sustainability.

In 2023, waste reduction is a focus for the group. They have submitted three proposals to the Health Promotion Initiatives Fund Sustainability stream so that they seize the opportunities for more sustainable practices at BC Cancer Surrey.  The project proposals cover topics such as nitrile glove recycling which could save approximately 1,000 gloves from landfill every week, eliminating the use of soft plastic bags to store patient clothing in favour of reusable linen bags and reviewing options for staff bike storage to empower more team members to ride to work.

Meet the team:

I feel health care and Sustainability go hand in hand. If we are not caring about our environment and what toxins we put into our world, it will in return impact our health. We are a part of this world and we need to be mindful of the resources we take from it and the footprint we leave behind

I hope that (in my role as a Green+Leader) I will be able to learn more about changes that I could bring in my workplace with the team. Even small changes or new practices that reduce our carbon footprint is success to me.

Working with our regional Green+ Leader team is one of the most rewarding parts of my job! I am really looking forward to working with Cara-Lee on our glove recycling pilot project as this is something that the two of us have been talking about for years.

Creating a sustainable and resilient health-care system is important to me because I want to see nature, people and animals thrive. As health care providers it is our responsibility to take care of people and also take care of the environment to ensure both people and nature remain healthy.

A sustainable and resilient healthcare system is one where waste reduction is a key priority. It helps the planet, staff and our patients leading to healthier outcomes, disease prevention/reduction and happy longevity.

Keeping my coworkers engaged in current and upcoming recycling projects has lead to many successful recycling initiatives and changes that has then become our culture. I like to send out interesting and funny email updates … (like equating waste to an) animal of similar mass … (and) educating my coworkers on upcoming recycling projects making recycling as interesting and engaging as possible.

Learning about and participating in what we can do at work gives me joy – even simple things such as recycling pens and turning off lights and computer monitors etc. when not in use for longer than 15 minutes. I believe we are called to be good stewards of the resources that we are entrusted with and am inspired to work with the Green+Leaders team at BCC Surrey to learn more to be a better steward.