Canadian Plastics

Toronto nurse creates mosaic from medical plastic waste

Longtime nurse Tilda Shalof turned 10,000 pieces of sterile plastic waste into a vibrant mural that's on permanent display at Toronto General Hospital.

February 17, 2020   Canadian Plastics

A nurse formerly with the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Toronto General Hospital left behind a memorable artifact when she decided to retire last year: a vibrant 4-foot-by-9-foot mural made entirely from bits of waste plastic.

The finished mural. Image Credit: @nursetilda/Facebook.

Tilda Shalof was a nurse at the ICU for approximately 28 years. When she decided she was ready to retire, she wanted to leave something behind for the hospital, so she created the mural from innumerable bits of sterile plastic – including packaging caps and lids, syringe covers, IV tubes, stoppers, and tops – that she had saved up for decades, and that would normally have gone in the trash.

Creating the mural took her a year, and involved placing the plastic pieces in ornate patterns and designs, then setting the entire piece in resin. The finished mural – which is on permanent display in the lobby of Toronto General Hospital – contains 10,000 pieces. Among other images, the artwork contains faces, hands, and a bright sunburst.

Shalof’s penchant for collecting plastic waste from the hospital went back a long ways:  When her children were young, she’d use the pieces – which came in a multitude of shapes and sizes – to help them learn to match and sort things by colour and shape. Later, she used them for jewelry and craft projects. Over 28 years, Shalof was able to collect and store thousands of plastic pieces left over from her daily work.


Tilda Shalof . Photo Credit: @nursetilda/Facebook.

Shalof ultimately decided not to retire, and went to work in the radiology department of the Toronto Western Hospital. She is also the author of a bestselling non-fiction book, A Nurse’s Story, and a public speaker.

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