My opportunity to make a difference
My ALT internship as a Sustainability Scholar was with the Energy and Sustainability unit of BC Fraser Health Authority, evaluating and improving the environmental performance of pharmacy operations within a hospital setting. I was able to champion the project – ‘Greening Pharmacy and Medical Imaging,’ researching environmental opportunities in hospital pharmacy and medical imaging departments across ten health facilities. My research helped these facilities lower their environmental footprint and improve resource efficiencies in waste and toxicity reduction, waste diversion including recycling, product re-use and diversion from landfills.
Research in action
My work began with site visits where I observed and interviewed staff to learn how waste is generated and disposed of. Through these processes, we identified opportunities that could be ‘low-hanging-fruit’ pilot projects that may be replicated and scaled across health facilities in the region.
Overall, the project identified a greater need around greening procurement and general operations by identifying upstream and downstream opportunities to reduce packaging and unnecessary production of material waste.
Hands-on learning outcomes
The internship has given me a deeper understanding of how the terms ‘sustainability’ and ‘climate change’ connect with health and health care. I now see opportunities to connect the terms to my professional and background experiences in the field. Thanks to this hands-on experience I am now able to process and apply the entire waste hierarchy to a waste management plan around ‘reducing, reusing and recycling’ waste and supporting a zero-waste and resource efficiency sustainability outcome.
I have also honed my stakeholder communications and engagement capacities and have more experience with corporate report writing, designing and using infographics to concisely represent an idea.
Given my stream of specialization in Resource Management and Environmental Sustainability in the MPPGA program, I can also confidently say that I have a new perspective on possible career adventures for my future. I will also select courses for the next school term which are not mere academic exercises, but selected courses that can be potentially applied and adapted to my future career interests.
Toyin Christiana Onabola, ALT scholar from Nigeria in the Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia.