Green Your Lab

Green Your Lab asks all of our Green Lab Allies:
"How are you celebrating the holidays in your Sustainable Lab?"

We challenge you to get into the Holiday Spirit without generating more waste. Get creative and have fun!

Here’s a little inspiration from labs around the world: 

Amy Fitzpatrick and team at Teagasc have made their tree out of old pipette tip boxes. Their 2020 tree is a bit lacklustre, but that’s because they’ve done a super job at decreasing their pipette tip usage this year. Snaps for putting Green Lab practices to work.

Jordan Raff at University of Oxford presents his lab’s gorgeous reused-fly-vial tree. It catches the light just right.

The Bioimaging Facility (also from the University of Oxford) found a super cute and clever way to reuse electron microscopy resin grids to make their Christmas ornaments.  

And who says you need to go shopping to get into the holiday spirit? Take a page from Ben Nicolet from Sanquin by being creative and reuse what you have already. Don't just buy more stuff. 

Prof Caroline Ford from UNSW Medicine made a delicious 96-wel lplate house.  We love all of these creative decorations using lab refuse.  

Green Labs Initiative at the Neuro gives you some ideas to double your joy of Secret Santa gift giving reuse lab refuse. 

Let's not waste this Holiday Season. Celebrate and give your lab refuse a chance to fulfil its Christmas destiny.  

#SustainableScience for a #SustainableChristmas

Green Your Lab conference carbon footprint

Anna Fedorova from International Congress of Mathematicians asks:
"What is the carbon footprint of a real life conference compared to a virtual one?"

Dear Anna,  Green Your Lab is actively trying to encourage more conferences to happen virtually. So, thanks for your question. 

The carbon footprint of virtual conferences can be greatly reduced. For example, the 2019 Conference of European Astronomical Society with 1200 participants produced 1855 tonnes CO2e. By moving online this year, their 2020 conference with 1700 participants only contributed 582 kg CO2e.     

For some back of the envelope calculations, the most significant contribution of a conference’s footprint is the air travel. There are lots of great calculators online. One of my favourites is ICAO. There are other online calculators to help estimate the emissions associated with the meeting portion of the event. For example, Denver City or MyClimate

Virtual conferences not only significantly decrease a conference’s carbon emissions and help organizations reach their sustainability goals, it provides a wealth of other benefits. An online congress can increase accessibility. The American Chemical Society was able to make their 2020 Green Chemistry Conference completely free of charge. Free conference admission and no travel costs allowed attendees with any level of funding to attend. This stretches research dollars and equalizes the playing field. Not to mention, no more bureaucracy and discriminaion from the visa application process. I’ve been chatting to researchers who have been able to speak at up to five virtual conferences this month. Researchers are able to spread their reach further than it was ever possible before without the huge time commitment and sacrifice of their family lives. A virtual conference also allows additional flexibility. Attendees can drop in on topics of interest and have the opportunity to replay talks afterwards. We’re very happy to hear that they are considering moving the International Congress of Mathematicians online for 2022. It’s a wonderful idea and I hope the above information helps. 

Ines Yousfi from Paris Saclay University asks:
"Could you explain to me what is Green Lab?"

Hi Ines, Green Lab is a movement encouraging research labs to become more sustainable. Labs use 5-10x the energy of an office and lab work generates 5.4 billion kg of plastic waste per year. Our goal is to help reduce the environmental impact of research work. We help academic, industrial and research labs look at their lab practices and optimize for the smallest carbon footprint. This may be simple ideas such as turning off laboratory equipment in the evenings or waiting to fill an autoclave before turning it on; to more effort-intensive initiatives such as implementing a purchasing standard that highlights consumables suppliers that have end-of-life take-back programs or working with your waste hauler to develop a recycling program.   

We're scientists because we want to do good for the world, but our research should not be damaging the planet, and we, as upstanding citizens, need to do our part to help curb climate change.

undergraduate student engagement

Eva Thielecke from Maastricht University asks:
"Is there a way to get engaged as an undergrad student?"

Hi Eva, absolutely. We think that it is important to combine Green Lab education with the theoretical and practical Science/Engineering that you are currently learning in class. 

In Chemistry, you might learn a certain reaction using a classic solvent, but you might not know that there have been advancements in green solvent substitution. In Engineering, you might learn about pushing the conversion to get more yield, but you might not learn about alternative sustainable cleaning and sanitization procedures. In Biology labs, you might be taught to dispose of your consumables to minimize contamination and increase safety, but did you know that you can regenerate your Qiagen columns by soaking them in 1M HCl? 

We know that undergrads are probably not in control of a lab, but Green Lab is a mentality of asking "Why?" and challenging the status quo. We think that Green Lab ideas are good things to keep in mind as you progress through your career. You might be able to influence your teaching lab, or your research assistantship/internship/iGEM project lab, and ultimately influence your industry lab when you graduate. 

At Green Your Lab, we love providing free seminars for undergrads. So, please invite us. Let us know if there’s an appropriate opportunity to come speak – perhaps at a relevant seminar series (Chem Soc, Sci Soc, etc). If you can organize it, we're more than happy to come and talk to your students. Then you can see where it goes. Sometimes it just takes the first step…

Green Your Lab asks  Saskia Höcker from  Erhardt Lab at  Heidelberg University:
"How can we be sustainable in a Fly Lab?"

1. Freeze our flywaste in the -70 freezer for two days instead of autoclaving it. 

2. Unplug all vials and wash the plugs so they can be reused. 

3. Reuse the plastic plates (from fruit juice agar plates) also by freezing them, discarding the agar and washing the plates with regular soap. Our lab has never bought new ones, always reused the batch we have.

X X from X asks:
"Why is Green Lab important?"

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Note: Questions and response may be slightly edited to fit website reading. Original text is kept where possible