Last Updated on Jun 14, 2022 by James W

Most people forget the most common principle: reduce, reuse, recycle, when in the lab but they can attain a more sustainable and eco-friendly practice at home. Climate change cases are rising, and it is our responsibility to do more in this sector.

Many people working in the lab are starting to recognize and address the issue of the non-sustainability of labs. By implementing sustainable activities, lab resources can be used more effectively and efficiently to better all practices. Significant waste production and high energy consumption in labs can sometimes be staggering.

Sustainability is something that labs need to consider, but in the lab environment, it can seem an insurmountable task since scientific processes require more resources. Therefore, it is important to start small by encouraging eco-friendly practices in the lab to get the best out of every activity.

Making more environmentally friendly choices is the best way of making the lab eco-friendly than dealing with the impacts.

1. Checking freezers

Freezers like ULT freezers are vital for long-term storage, but they need a large amount of power. To ensure they are working effectively and efficiently, check out for the rubber seals and defrost regularly. Try to consolidate into smaller storage and reduce the number of freezers needed while minimizing the overall impact.

2. Reduce wasteful ordering

It is very easy to lose track when stocking the lab and end up with duplicates. Therefore, relying on a spreadsheet or other systems will reduce wasteful ordering. 

Also, you can try combing orders and reducing waste and shipping costs. There are several readily available schemes designed to help by promoting resource sharing.

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3. Switching off appliances and lights

People are more careful when switching off lights in their homes but become more careless in the lab, especially when leaving in the evening. Whether it is your lab equipment or computer, it is essential to power down since it will unnecessarily run the whole night. 

You can try reminding everyone working in the lab that they need to turn off lights and appliances by placing a “TURN THE LIGHT OFF” sticker next to the switch.

4. Closing the fume hood

One of the most power drains in the lab is an open hood. 

When the sash is up, it will pull the room air into the hood and simultaneously pump in outside air. Closing the fume hood is one of the simplest solutions to make the lab environmentally friendly but comes with great impact.

5. Reduce plastic consumption

The only simple and sensible solution to reduce plastic consumption is to replace it with glassware where possible. It is also important to plan experiments in the lab with consumable wastage in mind. This will give you time to consider whether you could miniaturize or multiplex without much deviation in the results.

6. Re-cycle everything if possible

Several available programs allow labs to recycle some products, a worthy investment in the lab. While labs can only recycle some plastics, environmental or sustainable departments always have schemes to help researchers do their part. 

Additionally, some labs are looking for in-house solutions to solve the recycling issue.

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