Central Laundry finds a sustainability leader in Christine Weagle

Monday, February 23, 2015 - 9:30am

By Brooke Stephen

Wallets.  False teeth. Teddy bears. Cell phones.

These are all items frequently found amongst the soiled laundry that arrives at Capital Health’s Central Laundry facilities in Dartmouth. Previously, they also all ended up at the landfill.

This changed 11 years ago when Christine Weagle, office manager of Central Laundry, began to sort through the personal items that ended up at the facility. Twice a week she goes through a large bin and takes steps to return items to their rightful owners—even the ones that aren’t labelled.

This is one of several processes Weagle has implemented within Central Laundry that have reduced the amount of waste produced by the facility. According to Allan Vail, director of Central Laundry and Linen Services, the department is now able to recycle about 99 per cent of what arrives at the facility, largely due to Weagle’s efforts.

The personal items that aren’t claimed are picked up, along with old linens, by Big Brothers Big Sisters and Girl Guides.

“Girl Guides are very much about being sustainable, about water for tomorrow, about the less fortunate people of the world. My involvement in Girl Guides has motivated me to be more sustainable wherever I can,” Weagle says. Her daughter grew up as a Girl Guide and is now a Sparks Leader.

Other linens and sheets that previously ended up at the landfill are now reused by a company called Give A Darn Yarn. Gayle Walford, a woman from Annapolis Valley, takes the linens and sheets and converts them into yarn products like rugs and bags.

Not only has most of the waste been diverted from the landfill, but processes within the Central Laundry facility have become more sustainable as a result of Weagle’s efforts. Employees now use re-usable earplugs, receiving one pair for every four-day shift cycle. They were using several pairs of ear plugs a day prior to the switch. 

Additionally, a water recycling system has reduced the amount of water consumption daily by almost 80 per cent. This initiative was brought forth by Vail, who learned about the system at a tradeshow. Brian Lavers, Chief Engineer Manager, Plant Operations at the Dartmouth General Hospital with assistance from Efficiency Nova Scotia implemented the system that is saving thousands of gallons of water per day.

Looking to the future, one of Weagle’s goals is to decrease Central Laundry’s office budget. She’s making a significant effort to reduce the amount of paper used by the facility, and will continue to find ways—big and small—to work toward total sustainability.

This is one of hundreds of efforts underway at Capital Health to reduce its environmental footprint. Learn more here.