You may have noticed a change in the Department of Pathology’s Core Laboratory lately, a noticeable shift toward a more sustainable and environmentally friendly workplace. The newly-formed Pathology Green Team has been implementing a multi-stage ‘greening’ of the Core Laboratory. This subtle transformation has the power to reduce the Department’s consumption of electricity, oil and water and minimize its impact on the environment from toxic byproducts of the production of raw materials.
The greening of the Core Lab is a task complicated by biosafety regulations. Much of the paper used by Core Laboratory staff is non-recyclable due to possible contamination from patient samples. The Laboratory can reduce the environmental load that this volume of paper consumption requires by switching to post-consumer recycled paper stock. The Laboratory has reduced its consumption of contaminated plastics, which would otherwise be disposed of under these regulations by re-racking pipette tips from bulk bags and by switching to reusable sharps containers.
The Green Team has worked with the Hospital’s Departments of Facilities, Environmental Services and Health, Safety and Environment to locate and capitalize on all existing recycling programs and bring the Core Laboratory into greater compliance. The Laboratory has begun recycling cans and bottles in the break room and is currently researching the relative environmental impacts of paper and polystyrene (Styrofoam) cups so that a responsible decision may be made regarding the type of disposable drink ware available to Core Lab Staff in the break room. The Core Laboratory has also begun the recycling of cardboard shipping boxes received each day.
Future goals of the Department of Pathology’s Core Lab Green Team include:
- battery recycling drives
- quarterly educational newsletters
- increased Green Team member recruitment and Core Lab participation to improve participation in recycling initiatives
- a reusable drink cup pledge-signing in which Core Lab staff will be able to pledge support of reusable drink ware in the break room and receive a Hopkins Core Lab Green Team logo reusable drink cup in return
All members of the Pathology Core Lab are encouraged to participate in the Green Team. Involvement may be as limited as emailing suggestions or as active as attending meetings. Those interested should contact Autumn Breaud, the Core Lab Green Team’s leader at firstname.lastname@example.org or extension 7-7662.
Clinical Laboratory Specialist, Department of Pathology
The Johns Hopkins University
Student, Environmental Science and Policy Masters Degree Program
The Johns Hopkins University Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences