The Green Chemist: What can we do to make our research process more sustainable?

‘Scientific research is vital for climate awareness and solutions, however, it paradoxically contributes to environmental issues through traditional laboratory practices. Operating laboratories and conducting experiments leads to excessive energy consumption, (hazardous) waste generation, and resource depletion. With this perspective we want to provide and spark quality education among scientists on how to improve as a community on research and laboratory operations.’

By implementing small changes in your lab, you can make your research more sustainable, and even save money in the process. Many of these changes, like increasing your freezer temperature to save energy or reducing plastic usage, sound like a step in the right direction on their own. But there are more, sometimes less obvious aspects of life as a researcher that impact the climate, and can be altered. But what are these aspects? And how much money and CO2 emission do we save exactly by changing our behavior?

Thomas Freese, ARC CBBC PhD candidate at the University of Groningen, has been an advocate of sustainable laboratory usage for quite some time now, being a representative of the Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF). Not only does he try to spread the idea of making your research more sustainable, he now also shows what doing so can bring both you and the planet. In the latest publication by Thomas and his coworkers, they carried out a case study in their own lab, and illustrated their point with calculations of their CO2 emissions and the emissions of the lab equipment. Also, they showed the savings their measures can result in. Find the publication here!


Now you know how both the world and your wallet can profit from greenifying your lab, but what can you concretely do to make a change? Earlier, Thomas and his coworkers made a guidebook with ideas that are ready to implement to make your laboratory and your research greener. From energy saving settings on your freezer to reusable lab equipment, and from water saving to attending and traveling to conferences sustainably. Including useful templates and stickers to aid in your way towards a greener lab. Find this useful and ready-to-use guidebook here!

ARC CBBC Workshop

On 28 October, Thomas and Michael Lerch, ARC CBBC Assistant Professor at the University of Groningen, will host a workshop on green laboratory usage. They will show small tweaks you can implement today, and illustrate them directly in the lab. ARC CBBC researchers can find more information and sign up for this workshop here.