By David Mun
Do you think of sustainability when it comes to hospitals? Probably not.
Nevertheless, there are people working behind the scenes who are trying to making hospitals greener. This is why for the next two quarters, our team will be working towards this goal of making UCLA’s hospitals sustainable. We are made up of five individuals: David Mun, Steve Flores, Kyle Hess, Austin Park, and Priya Macwan, with majors that include Geography, Biochemistry, Environmental Studies, and Environmental Science. We are all new to the Action Research Team program and are excited to be tackling our first ever project! Guiding us through the project is our stakeholder, Teresa Hildebrand, Sustainability Programs Manager for the UCLA Health System, who very graciously set up a meeting with us recently to get the team started!
We had our first official meeting as the Hospital Sustainability team on January 15th. The first task we would like to work on is helping set up the Earth Day Fair on April 22nd, 2014 at the Medical Center. We brainstormed initial ideas for a common theme of our booth and the fair itself, such as composting, sustainable foods, zero-waste, recycling, energy usage, or combining all to make a reduce, reuse, recycle theme.
The setup of the Earth Day fair ties in with our larger goal of enhancing sustainability education at the Health centers by making it more accessible and easy to understand. As students of sustainability ourselves, we realize that education is crucial to making sure that sustainability measures are just that—sustainable. We decided to research other examples of sustainability efforts in hospitals and contact their sustainability directors to observe existing protocols.
A second project we would like to pursue is the assessment of the health center’s cafeteria. Food is an important aspect of sustainability that should not be overlooked. Factors that we would like to investigate are food sourcing, portion size, and cost. Another idea is to create surveys for visitors, workers, and patients asking what their thoughts are about the current food at the hospital.
It is just the beginning and we will continue to brainstorm new ideas and projects to undertake in our effort to make the Ronald Reagan Medical Center more sustainable. We are a team that is focused and ready to make a difference.