Launched only in February this year, the ‘Labs Who Care’ initiative aims to create a community of environmental stewardship across Australasia. The founders are from the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF) – a national network of micro and nanofabrication facilities across the country. In particular, member hubs from Monash University, the University of Melbourne, the University of New South Wales and the University of South Australia acknowledged that not all organisations and laboratories have the awareness or funds available to participate in green programs and so founded Labs Who Care as a community-driven and collaborative platform where lab professionals from all backgrounds and organisations can share insights, challenges, and solutions related to sustainability practices.

How does the initiative relate to the University’s sustainability strategy?

The ‘Labs Who Care’ initiative is an exemplary model of how academic institutions can integrate sustainability into their operational practices, particularly in resource-intensive environments such as laboratories. This initiative aligns with Monash University’s broader sustainability strategy by promoting environmental responsibility within lab settings. It encourages laboratories across the university to adopt sustainable practices and achieve certifications such as My Green Lab certification. By doing so, supporting a culture of sustainability that extends beyond its own campus to the global laboratory community. The initiative originated from a need identified by the ANFF to reduce the environmental impact of labs. This community-driven approach leverages the collective expertise and enthusiasm of lab professionals to foster sustainable practices across all affiliated labs, not just those under Monash’s direct influence.

What challenges has this initiative navigated?

Initially, the primary hurdle was establishing an effective communication medium that was accessible and easy to use by a diverse group of participants. The choice of an email forum was deemed most suitable because it allowed for extensive participation with minimal maintenance, crucial for a volunteer-driven initiative. Additionally, the early stages of the initiative required significant effort in engaging labs to participate in sustainability certifications and to actively contribute to the community of practice. Overcoming these challenges has been crucial for maintaining momentum and ensuring the initiative’s growth.

What advice would you give to other organisations looking to replicate this?

For organisations aiming to replicate a similar sustainability initiative, it is vital to assess the existing support and resources available. If there is already a solid and locally supported green program in place, such as Green Impact, further replication might not be necessary. Instead, organisations could benefit from joining broader movements like Labs Who Care to enhance their impact and reach. For those without existing support, creating a volunteer community to share success stories and sustainability practices can be a powerful way to start. It is essential to foster a collaborative environment where ideas can freely circulate and innovations can be implemented across various labs. This approach not only promotes sustainability but also builds a network of motivated professionals dedicated to environmental stewardship.

By fostering a culture of sustainability that transcends local boundaries, Labs Who Care aims to inspire a global shift towards greener laboratory practices.

Interested in joining the Labs Who Care community? Contact Dr. Tatiana Pinedo Rivera, PhD

Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication, ANFF Victoria

Email: tatiana.pinedo@nanomelbourne.com

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Monash Labs Who Care Meeting

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