The Poplar St. parking lot at the Juravinski Cancer Centre is closed from June 3 to September 27. Click here for more info.

Hamilton Health Sciences Home
Employee putting food waste into the dehydrator to reduce our environmental impact
July 12, 2017

Introducing… a waste management coordinator

Victoria Brzozowski is the waste management coordinator at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS). She joined the organization in November 2016 and works across all HHS sites.

What made you enter your field of work?

Like health care, environmental management is a field of work heavily motivated by personal values. Similarly, it is also a field of work with tangible outcomes; if I do my job poorly, there are direct and measurable environmental consequences.

So, I entered the environmental management field because I care about the environment and I care about making a difference. It’s even more rewarding to work in environmental management in a health care setting because I see the connection between the environment and health every day.  The relationship between people and the environment is symbiotic and working to ensure both are healthy is really motivating.

What do you love most about your job?

What I love most is actually what used to cause me the most frustration. When I educate about HHS’s recycling or organics program in a huddle or meeting, I often get responses from colleagues such as “Why are we wasting our time? Recycling is pretend here- it all goes into the same bin” or “How do I know this actually gets recycled?” In the past when I would hear this feedback, I used to get very discouraged because I thought that my colleagues didn’t care.  What I’ve come to understand is that asking these questions highlights just how much HHS employees do  care and that they want to make sure HHS is acting in environmentally responsible ways.   So now I’m grateful to those who address these concerns  and question process because it gives me an opportunity to better understand the root causes of these misconceptions. I love these conversations because they highlight areas for improvement in process and communication while also demonstrating the  importance of  educating the organization about the behind-the-scenes environmental stewardship work we do here every day.

What do you wish you had more time for at work?

Do we have cloning technology yet? Being the sole person in this role for HHS really limits my ability to be visible at all sites all the time. It would be great to have more time to attend daily huddles across the campuses on the units and to be more present for rounding at all sites. I find that connecting face to face and seeing how waste is handled in a work setting is extremely enlightening and helps me to better strategize opportunities for improvement. More time for that would be great!

…we were recycling only 1 wheeled recycling tote daily and by the Friday we were recycling 9 wheeled recycling totes daily.

Tell us about your most gratifying experience at HHS

Certainly the most gratifying experience for me comes from getting a new program up and running and from seeing the sense of accomplishment on the faces of my colleagues.

Recently, we began implementing recycling in Nutrition Services. The team there has been great – adapting to change and learning new processes for meal tray stripping. It was so rewarding to see that on a Monday in Nutrition Services at JHCC and HGH, we were recycling only 1 wheeled recycling tote daily and by the Friday we were recycling 9 wheeled recycling totes daily. The Nutrition Services team increased their recycling so much so that we ran out of recycling bins on the waste dock on multiple occasions in the first 2 weeks!

What’s one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?

After finishing my Masters degree, I was feeling very exhausted by formal education and, to be honest, a little disenfranchised by the dead-ends I was running into while hunting for a career-track job.  Around the same time, the owner of a local creamery happened to come into a restaurant where I was working. We got chatting about cheese and the next thing I knew, I had spent 10 months working as a cheesemaker. It was a very fulfilling and satisfying experience and it gave me the time I needed to consider my next steps (and yes, this meant more schooling!). It’s also increased the deliciousness of my own culinary adventures, now that I have myself set up to make cheese at home!