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July 19, 2011 > Caught Going Green!

Caught Going Green!

Washington Hospital Employee Wins Contest for Exemplary Recycling at Home

For some, the thought of going green at home sounds daunting. However, these days more and more people are answering the call to reduce their impact on the environment by being more conscientious about recycling.

Carol Garibaldi, an employee at Washington Hospital, takes going green at home seriously. Recently she and her family were selected as one of the winners in the StopWaste.Org "Ready, Set, Recycle" contest for having the least amount of recyclables and compostables in their garbage. The contest rewards Alameda County residents with fun cash prizes for doing their part to properly sort their waste every day.

"When I think about all the garbage and waste on the beaches, in the oceans, and on the streets of our own neighborhoods, I can't help but think it is important to try to re-use and reduce our waste for our kids and future generations," said Garibaldi. "Every little bit helps and even if you don't know a lot, it's easy to learn and contribute."

Garibaldi says she decided to enter the contest after receiving a post card in the mail. From there, she solicited support from her entire household.

"My kids always check with me to make sure they put the right thing in the right bag," shared Garibaldi. "They are just as much a part of doing this as I am, and they help remind me when I get lazy."

A Family Affair

About six years ago, Garibaldi and her family started a small composting bin and garden. Each year they expanded it, starting with organic soil. Currently they are growing corn, tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables. Garibaldi says during this experience, she's been pleasantly surprised by how enthusiastic her two children have been throughout the process.

"My nine-year-old son, who is a very picky eater, has enjoyed growing his 'own' veggies so much so that he now goes to the garden and picks spinach leaves or carrots to eat for breakfast," shares Garibaldi. "He would never have tried these things if I had just bought them at the store; but since he has had a hand in planting, watering and caring for them, he now has an interest in trying them all."

Over the years working as a lead biomedical technician at Washington Hospital, Garibaldi has been inspired to take some of what she's learned at work and put it to the test at home - particularly since she reports directly to the hospital's Director of Biomedical Engineering and Green Initiatives Paul Kelley.

"Whenever I have questions regarding recycling at home, I can always get the answer I needed directly from him," says Garibaldi. "The green efforts at the hospital have made me more aware of what can and can't be recycled or composted, so my family and I got better at what we had already been doing," she adds.

Leading by Example

Giribaldi isn't alone in teaching by example. Washington Hospital has taken a leading role in helping to educate the community about environmentally responsible practices since its "Green Team" Committee was formed three years ago. Since then, several recycling and compostable collection programs have been implemented, including last year's highly successful unused medication take-back program for the public, which allowed community members to drop off unwanted or un-used medications for safe disposal.

"We recognize the critical link between the health of each individual and the health of the environment," says Kelley, who has chaired the hospital's Green Team Committee since August 2008. "That's why we are committed to environmentally responsible practices and are taking the lead to promote a healthier community."

Employee engagement is a critical element of the Washington Hospital's environmental efforts, according to Kelley. The Green Team keeps hospital staff informed and motivated through newsletters and sustainability education fairs, and also welcomes employees' suggestions for improvement.

In April, the hospital partnered with the City of Fremont to host its second annual "Let's Go Green Together" community event. The Earth Day expo drew approximately 1,000 people and featured an exhibition hall with more than 50 booths for local agencies and vendors to showcase how to reduce, re-use, and recycle at home and at the workplace.

"So many people throughout the hospital are enthusiastic about reducing our environmental impact," says Kelley. "Going green has been a real team effort."
Through the Green Team initiative, the hospital has implemented a wide range of waste reduction measures, including a facility-wide recycling and compostables collection program. To prevent waste, the hospital has replaced plastic and Styrofoam utensils and cups in their cafeteria with recyclable and compostable ware.

To learn more about Washington Hospital's "Green Team" initiatives, visit

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