Histology labs have a pretty large environmental footprint, from the water we consume, to the waste we generate, to the energy it takes to power all of our equipment. Luckily, there are steps we can take to reduce our impact and make our labs a little greener.
· Use water timers for continuous processes to turn off equipment when a task is complete
· Wait until you have a full load to wash lab equipment
· If it is safe in your area to use tap water instead of DI water, this will save water and energy
· Report and fix leaks such as a dripping faucet
Fume Hood: According to a report from Harvard’s Shut the Sash Program, fume hoods can use the energy equivalent of three regular family homes, daily. Their initiative encouraged the shutting of the sash on variable air volume fume hoods as a means of reducing the air flow required, reducing energy used.
Freezers: Freezers are another area of the lab that use a lot of energy. One ultra low temperature lab freezer can use as much energy per day as a single family home! Taking simple steps like defrosting your freezer can reduce energy consumption (and enhance performance). Taking an inventory of your samples will help reduce time spent searching through the freezer with the door open. You will also want to do periodic clean-outs of the freezer to ensure that all of the samples in there actually need to be there. Also consider what you are using within your freezer to store your samples. High density storage can reduce wasted space, therefore reducing the total amount of freezer storage needed. Check to see at what temperature your samples actually need to be stored. If you can safely reduce your freezer temperature to -70°C instead of -80°C you can save up to 40% on energy consumption. If your lab can make these changes, consider signing up for the 2021 Freezer Challenge, an initiative by My Green Lab and the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories, to reduce their environmental impact with simple changes to laboratory freezer practices.
You generally don’t think of Styrofoam as being recyclable but there are ways to do it. You can find a drop-off or pickup location near you. There are also programs that can help you recycle PPE, such as the Right Cycle program by Kimberly Clark Professional. Find out which products are eligible.