Small changes, big results. Such was the underlying theme of last Wednesday’s Sustainability in the Lab, a Lab of the Future meetup TetraScience sponsored at the Harvard Chemistry Department Center. With the offer of free pizza, networking, and two enticing speakers - the first, Quentin Gilly; a Senior Coordinator for FAS Green Labs Program at Harvard and Lydia Morrison; a technical writer of New England Biolabs and manager of Labconscious, students, scientists and researchers alike came together for an evening of positive lab reform; to discuss and share methods of reducing costs and waste and to celebrate the overall efforts to improve sustainable innovation.
The follow-up event to the overwhelmingly popular, Designing the Lab of the Future event held this past November, Sustainability was centered upon changes labs can make in an effort to ‘go more green.’ In his lecture, aptly titled, ‘Efficient Cold Storage Strategies for Laboratories,’ Gilly highlighted the many benefits of strategic storage practices, including the surprising benefits of turning your -80 freezers to -70.
There is even a current, friendly 'Freezer Challenge' going on between Harvard and MIT, centered upon reducing freezer waste.
Morrison, in contrast, focused upon the broader environmental impact of lab science. Through her work with Labconscious, an online scientific community dedicated to reducing the large environmental footprint of laboratory work, insight came in the form of better recycling management, including refurbishing old lab equipment and how to address the limitations of what can be recycled.
A glimpse into the Living Greenhouse Wastewater Treatment Facility, located at New England Biolabs, offered inspiration into just how far better environmental practices can go - and the beauty that can arise from applying a little ingenuity and innovation.
In the end, the allotted post-lecture question time - ten minutes, proved too short. Many asked about how they might learn more or what small steps could be taken to improve sustainability expeditiously. When asked about his takeaway from attending, MIT Process Chemist, Dr. Luke Rogers, replied, ‘Listening to the engaging speakers made me reassess what I could be doing to improve sustainability in my lab.”
The overall atmosphere was booming, a positive force sweeping through with each question and reaffirming comment, driving home the point that sustainable change is not only feasible, but also fun.
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