The Dark Side of a Clean Restroom

By Austin Park

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the game in casinos and arcades in which coin after coin is pushed precariously to the edge of a metal rim. And you’re sure that if you add just one more coin, the whole pile would fall in a crescendoing crash of chaos. But it never does. Somehow, it stays perfectly balanced, spitefully defying expectation--somewhat like the schedule of a UCLA undergraduate. Except that this week, expectation was satisfied.

It began with the Monday meeting, which was actually moved to Tuesday due to a dearth of availability. The pileup of work left for this quarter was assessed and deemed scary. We divvied up sections of our final report to make the load more manageable. Then, we began transferring the content of the Wix Sustainability Website to a Wordpress Blog (still in progress--look for it next week), so that it can then be embedded in the UCLA Health System website.

We also began taking post-sticker data. For those unfamiliar with our project, we are conducting a waste audit focused on paper towel use before and after placing a sticker on the paper towel dispenser which says, “Remember… These come from trees”. Unfortunately, this week of collection was not nearly so smooth as weeks past. For one, a sticker was ripped off and had to be replaced; no data could be recorded for this day. What’s worse, the janitorial staff has recently changed their schedule, making it difficult to collect data before the trash is collected. When I arrived to collect on Tuesday, the janitor was already removing the trash. Luckily, I had time to weigh the trash (though I couldn’t count it), before he cleaned. When I asked what times they cleaned the restrooms, he replied, “All the time”. This makes it impossible to know when the trash is collected. This alone could invalidate our results, since the amount of paper towels in the garbage depends heavily upon when the trash collected. However, as long as we arrive before the janitor removes the trash, the trash will have been accumulating since 5 p.m.

The last three weeks of the quarter will require a heavy push from all Hospital Sustainability Team members. We are as flexible as we are stretched thin, but we are committed and excited to analyze the results of our four-month project. Onward!

Caption: Look out for the completed website:

Caption: Look out for the completed website: