Cabinet of Curiosities

Captain Planet: Resolutions for the New Year

Happy 2017 to one and all! I hope you are all finding yourselves refreshed and rejuvenated after the winter break. As we all get into the swing of things I thought it would be fun to discuss our goals for the new year. Going Green is a great New Years resolution and something that Cardiff University takes very seriously. Last year the School of Archaeology, History, and Religion received the NUS Green Impact Silver Award and we are working hard to achieve that goal again!

Sustainability within the lab is everyone’s job. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is truly the best mantra you can have and one we follow as much as possible. In order to make it easier for everyone to remember, we have made recycling and cutting down power usage as simple as possible. For instance, to help us save on energy, near every light switch we have a reminder to:

hit-the-switch

We also have signs on our fume cupboards to remind us to keep the sash (the see-through, pull-down doors) closed. After doing more research, we have found that even if the fume cupboard is not turned on, it is still using energy as there is still an exhaust fan. In order to minimize energy usage, it is important to make sure the sash is closed even when not in use so that the fume hood is not constantly trying to pull from the room instead of the small area in the cupboard.

shut-the-sash

Our most extensive sustainability work in the lab, however, is our recycling programme. We have many different trash bins, one for each type of waste product that can be recycled. In order to help make things clear, each bin is labeled with the appropriate type of waste to be recycled. While recycling once was more difficult with so many different products in the lab, it is now made much easier with the division and labels. Our lab has chosen to break down recycling by: Pyrex, glass, polythene, sharps, generic recycling, general waste.

line-of-binspyrex-and-glass

There are other simple tasks that a lab can put in place to improve their sustainability:

  • Stock products that are reusable, such as beakers and petri dishes that are easy to clean.
  • Bring in a hand towel to reduce your use of paper towels.
  • Use minimal amounts of water to wash objects, reusing the soapy water if possible.
  • Reuse plastic and glass pipettes, palettes and bottles instead of throwing them away.
  • Unplug unused equipment so that it doesn’t continue to pull energy.

These are all small and simple tasks that may not seem like a lot but add up over the course of the year.

general-recyclepolythene

I am interested to hear your thoughts! What are your goals for the new year? How do you practice sustainability in your life and in the lab?

 

If you are interested in learning more about sustainability and joining a growing network of lab professionals dedicated to going green, check out the Facebook Group Students for Sustainability.

 

All photos are courtesy of Stephanie Whitehead.

 

Comments

  • ljanehenderson

    I think that the school had the silver award for laboratories and bronze for the school as a whole. Do you fund the NUS green impact program helpful and what is your aim for this year?

    • Stephanie, Erica Whitehead

      The NUS green impact program has indeed been very helpful! Not only do they provide audits of labs and such but also offer exhibitions and events that can be participated in. Each offers the school and students insights into new ways to improve our sustainability and adjust the ways our staff and students think about the topic. This year we are attempting to recycle even more laboratory daily waste and researching possibilities (i.e one of our students is looking into whether or not latex free gloves can be recycled). The school is working towards more electronic work submissions in order to cut back on paper usage.

  • Marcin

    There are the latex gloves which can be recycled but there is problem as they demand to place a really big box/bin to collect used gloves (It is huge!). This a reason why they cannot be used at this moment in our lab. We do not have a space for such a big object in lab. https://www.terracycle.co.uk/en-UK/brigades/gloves . Hopefully in near future it will be possible.

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