UCSF Sustainability Stories

Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact, November 2014

Spotlight on UCSF 2014 Sustainability Award Winner:  Deborah Don

PicDeborah Don was recently awarded a UCSF 2014 Sustainability Award, recognizing her efforts at the UCSF Medical Center to reuse resources.  Deborah runs the “Mark’s List” furniture repair/reuse program for the Parnassus Medical Center campus, saving hundreds of items of furniture over the years from the landfill, as well as saving the University tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars in new furniture costs. When a department or staff group no longer needs equipment, furnishings and supplies, Deborah finds ways to get these resources into the hands of other medical center offices and clinics.  She maintains a well-organized and efficient storage area at the ACC for reusable furnishings, supplies and equipment that is made available for reuse within the medical center through the online tool. 

Deborah took a few minutes to answer a few of our questions about LivingGreen at UCSF.

Mark's ListWhy do you think sustainability is important for UCSF?

UCSF is one of the largest employers in San Francisco and is a city within a city. We work and live in an ever changing and growing environment with new buildings and remodeling of preexisting ones. As we grow, we need to adapt our buildings, our workplaces and the way we do business to be more sustainable.  We need to use products that have longevity and that can be recycled and upcycled.

What do you see as the link between health and the environment?

Pollution, chemicals, nuclear waste, pesticides all impact our lives and our quality of life.  The air we breathe affects our lungs, which in turn affects our other organs.  What we eat (animals, plants and seafood), which are exposed to pesticides and other chemicals, affect our overall health. This all has a domino effect on our health, which in turn drives up health care costs

What accomplishment are you most proud of around promoting LivingGreen at UCSF?

I focus on trying to prevent waste.  By recycling and reusing items, we’ve done two things that are positive for the campus.  We’ve recycled a usable item and have saved the university funds that can be used elsewhere.  There are so many items that can be reused: furniture, binders, stationary, file folders, etc.

What is one action you would like to see your fellow staff/students take?

Stop overbuying and develop a departmental inventory.  I see so much waste where staff buy, buy, buy because they want “new”.  Think twice before you toss an item.