Lab Sustainability: Easy as 1-2-3

Sustainability is a bit of buzzword lately—for good reason—but knowing how to be more sustainable and actually putting sustainable practices in action are not the same thing. This may be one reason why scientists have been slow to adopt change in their laboratories. By sponsoring My Green Lab, we’re hoping to help spread the message that there are simple changes researchers can make in their labs to significantly impact sustainability.

Here are some easy ways to reduce energy, water and waste in your lab and start making your research more sustainable.

1. Energy

Compared to office buildings on campus, academic lab buildings consume 5 times more energy. To put that into perspective, labs typically consume 50% of the energy on a university campus despite occupying less than 30% of the space. Fortunately, reducing energy usage can be one of the easiest ways to make your lab more sustainable. Continue reading “Lab Sustainability: Easy as 1-2-3”

Making Research More Sustainable, One Lab at a Time

Do you love your research job? What if you couldn’t do that work anymore? What if future researchers couldn’t have the opportunity to build from what you have accomplished and feel the same joy you do about their research?

Unfortunately, these may become more than hypotheticals for the next generation of scientists due to the impact humans are having on the earth. Scientific research has an outsized impact on some aspects of our unsustainable use of resources. Academic research buildings can use four times more energy than a typical office building and can be responsible for one-third of all waste generated on campus. So, can you make scientific research more sustainable? Continue reading “Making Research More Sustainable, One Lab at a Time”

Recycle or Compost? Sorting Out the Cornstarch from the Plastic

Environmental concerns have driven people to seek products that are not derived from petroleum. This has translated into people using products from renewable resources for serving food and beverages. Now you are drinking iced tea out of corn plastic cups or coffee from paper cups labeled as ecofriendly. What does this label mean and what do you do with them when you have consumed your beverage?

Corn plastic is called polylactic acid or PLA. It is derived from corn as well as other starch-rich crops like sugar beets and wheat. The starch is isolated from the source crop, and dextrose (a sugar) is then processed from the starch and fermented to lactic acid. Continue reading “Recycle or Compost? Sorting Out the Cornstarch from the Plastic”