If you have a needless truck, car or any other type of vehicle that’s outlived its usefulness, you have several options. You could try to sell it yourself, but depending on the car’s state, that could be easier said than done. You could have the car scrapped, like the approximately 12 million cars that are discarded each year to be recycled — but you probably won’t receive much of a return on your investment that way, and it isn’t the most environmentally friendly choice. Donating your car to charity, however, can be a great way to rid yourself of an unnecessary car no matter what state it’s in, while also possibly getting something back in the form of a tax deduction. But before you consider donating your car, it’s important to know what will most likely happen to your vehicle once you turn it over to the nonprofit of your choice.
This is a story about clothing. It’s about the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the industry is having on our world. The price of clothing has been decreasing for decades, while the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically. The True Cost is a groundbreaking documentary film that pulls back the curtain on the untold story and asks us to consider, who really pays the price for our clothing?
The first time I heard about green qPCR* was when these cute little Real-time PCR System were introduced. Actually, it wasn’t just this type of instrument that was introduced to me, but the whole concept of “you can do something ecofriendly in your laboratory”.
But before talking about this, let me explain why this hadn’t crossed my mind before:
Protecting the environment, for me that meant to recycle stuff. Which in turn means you simply re-cycle paper, plastic and metal. Now the thing is that products made from such recycled materials aren’t as clean as they used to be, e.g. recycled paper looks more gray-ish, doesn’t it? While this isn’t really a big issue in daily live (okay, it’s a problem if you’re picky about the way it looks), it’s definitely a problem in the lab. Here, you’re using methods and instruments allowing you to detect minute contaminations – one in a million of molecules, the proverbial needle in the haystack. Now, if you would use e.g. recycled plastic in the lab, you would very likely always get a some false signal because you would be detecting the traces from its previous use. And reagents … well, once they have reacted with each other, they are used up and gone. And also contaminated with each other, to say the least. Therefore, it’s usually Use-it-once-and-throw-it-away in the lab.
So, if you can’t re-use or recycle material in the lab, what’s left?
Well, if you can’t reuse and/or recycle, at least you can go easy on your resources and reduce the amount of material you use. And that’s where manufacturers of more compact qPCR instruments makes their claim that these instrument help you to run a greener lab:
The concept is: “Using less energy and material is greener.” And this actually makes sense because if an instrument is designed to use 60% less energy than common qPCR instruments. And because it’s all done in a smaller plate, it means you are using less plastic – e.g. 75% less, i.e. only around 4.5 kg/year compared to 18 kg/year. Also, smaller plates means smaller wells, which in turn means smaller reaction volumes are possible, so that you are using less reagents per reaction; long story short, you are producing less liquid waste.
Of course, there are other factors, which have an impact on the environment, such us the carbon footprint of the manufacturing process. Since there’s no data here, I’m afraid I can’t say much about it. But leaving this aside, I think this instrument is really a way to do more with less material. And that’s a good thing for the environment, isn’t it?
Besides this, there are actually exceptions, i.e. applications, where you can get away with reused material. I’ll have a look at those the next time.
What do you think? Looking forward to your feedback and comments! 🙂
*P.S.: in case you’re wondering: “qPCR?!? Real-Time-what?!? What is he talking about?!?” Here a nice little introduction to it: Continue reading “Green qPCR – using less plastic consumables and less reagents”