Posted by: unlikelygrad | June 8, 2010

environmental (??) research

I like to think that I am an environmentalist. I believe in being a good steward of the Earth. As you might guess, this is one of the reasons I went into environmental research.

Some people consider my lifestyle extremist but it is nothing compared to that of my advisor, Dr. Hand-Waver. Dr. HW bikes to school every day, even in the snow. Her house has PV and solar hot-water. She’s even more into reusable stuff than I am. I imagine she loves the Earth as much as I do, and perhaps this is why she went into environmental research as well.

And yet…in our lab, I wonder how environmentally conscious we are. After all, we throw out so much stuff:

  • Disposable weighing boats. Not too many of these, thankfully.
  • Nitrile gloves. A couple dozen per week, probably.
  • Disposable pipet tips. Don’t get me wrong; I’d love to kiss the guy who invented micropipets. But the number of pipet tips we throw away every day is staggering.

And probably more that I can’t think of…

I’m sure few of these things are biodegradable. Is my science really worth its impact on the environment? Am I doing more harm than good? Sometimes I wonder.



  1. Man I burn through serological pipets like its nobody’s business. My fiancee commented on this when she saw me doing some routine cell culture. And don’t get me started on all the flasks we go through to. Since its biohazard waste, we really can’t recycle it. We could use glass but you have to autoclave and there are some contaminating organisms that can withstand autoclaving. Its really a lose lose situation. But I recycle pipet tip boxes to use for containers for antibody incubations when doing western blots.

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