While it was operating, a project was underway at the St. Vincent COVID-19 testing site to reduce unnecessary plastic waste by gifting staff free reusable water bottles and encouraging others to bring their own.

The project came to life when a clerk and Green+Leader at the site, Yasmin Hamzah, noticed all the plastic waste that was accumulating from single-use plastic water bottles given to staff to stay hydrated throughout their shift. “At our site, we require plastic water bottles for staff to keep hydrated throughout their twelve-hour shifts,” noted Hamzah, “especially in the summer because we are outside in tents which trap the heat.”

While many site staff found the single-use water bottles wasteful, understandably, a water cooler to refill bottles could not be installed due to infection prevention and control guidelines. Despite this, Hamzah saw an opportunity to reduce plastic waste when she discovered the Green+Leaders Sustainability Workplace Funding Initiative.

Hamzah applied for a grant to gift sizable reusable water bottles with enough capacity to last the entire day. The gifting campaign was paired with an original infographic for staff​ to learn more about the impact of the climate crisis on human health. Thanks to this awareness campaign, the site staff were inspired to re-visit the idea of recycling the single-use plastic bottles that, while reduced, were still being used.

This recycling program was successfully implemented, redirecting St. Vincent’s COVID-19 testing site plastics, paper, and cardboard from the landfill.

To learn more about sustainability in healthcare and ways to get involved, please visit the GreenCare website for resources and ways to take action. Join the Green+Leaders, where seed funding is available to advance your sustainability idea!


Contact Marianne Dawson, Sustainability Consultant, Energy and Environmental Sustainability Team: Marianne.dawson@vch.ca