When Allison Paradise started working at a research lab in high school, she was dismayed to find that there was nowhere to recycle disposable lab equipment. In college and grad school, she found the same thing.
“I finally just said, ‘You know what? Something has to be done about this, and I’m going to just do it,’” she says.
So Paradise started a nonprofit called My Green Lab. It works with labs at universities and biotech companies to help them reduce not only waste, but their water and energy use, which is typically very high. Labs often consume more than three times as much energy per square foot as office buildings.
She says some labs can save energy by replacing old equipment. For example, older models of ultra-cold lab freezers often use as much electricity as an entire house. But now there are more energy-efficient models available.
Paradise says people also must change their habits.
“Equipment is left on 24/7 even though it doesn’t have to be,” she says. “I never questioned it when I worked in the lab. Most people we talked to never think about that, and that’s just a habit we have to break.”
She says her goal is to help labs grow a culture of sustainability, so that cutting-edge science does not come at the expense of the planet.
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Editor’s note: This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.