In front of the VA Palo Alto campus entrance sits a sleek and shiny roadster, with the TESLA emblem on the back. Following the footpath towards other buildings, patients and staff encounter a weird little guy with shiny discs and other materials attached to him, aptly named Recycling Robot. Veterans walk by him throwing bottles, cans, and other recyclables into his belly.
Green is more than just a color as the VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS) celebrated Earth Day on the Palo Alto campus. The event had numerous exhibitors including TESLA, Silicon Segway, Cell Phones for Soldiers, and Lions in Sight. Outside exhibitors were not the only ones showcasing their sustainable pride, as a number of VAPAHCS Services came out to show off their sustainable projects.
"I believe the event helped to highlight the great green initiatives that have already been accomplished on this campus. For example, the engineering service adding solar panels to the rooftops and switching to more energy efficient light bulbs," said Jude Lopez, one of the coordinators of the event. "So many Vets told me how proud they were that we were doing so many "green" things at the site where they get care."
Of course, the freebies were flowing with free energy-saving light bulbs from Environmental Management Service, water bottles from VA Canteen Service that use a significantly less amount of plastic, and even reusable bags with bamboo utensils from the VAPAHCS Green Energy Team and Employee Association, who were the sponsors for the event.
"This was our first Earth Day Celebration at VAPAHCS, and it was a huge success," said Nora Lynn Dwinell, Vice President of the VAPAHCS Employee Association. "Employees are already asking us how we're going to top this event next year!"
The event was highlighted with the planting of an oak tree behind the Fisher House, where the executive team poured the first shovels full of dirt. The oak tree was purchased with funds earned by our Logistics Management Service's recycling program.
The VAPAHCS Green Energy Team was founded by two VA employees with the additional leadership of Jude Lopez, Brooke O'Hanley and other core members. The team introduced recycling bins on campus and has many new green initiatives on the way.
"We have so many "green" wishes on our list for the coming year," said Brooke O'Hanley. "We hope to expand recycling across the health care system, relocate bee hives instead of extermination, implement eco-friendly hand sanitizers, and even do composting."