Launched in February this year, the ‘Labs Who Care’ initiative aims to create a community of environmental stewardship across Australasian laboratories. Founded by members of the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF)—a national network of micro and nanofabrication facilities—the initiative particularly involves hubs from Monash University, the University of Melbourne, UNSW, and the University of South Australia. Recognising that not all organisations and laboratories have the awareness or funds to participate in green programs, Labs Who Care was established as a community-driven and collaborative platform. It enables lab professionals from diverse backgrounds and organisations to share insights, challenges, and solutions related to sustainability practices.

What is Labs Who Care?

The ‘Labs Who Care’ initiative is an exemplary model of how academic institutions can integrate sustainability into their operational practices, especially in resource-intensive environments like laboratories. It encourages laboratories across universities to connect, share expertise, and adopt sustainable practices to achieve sustainability certifications. This initiative supports a culture of sustainability that extends beyond a single campus to the global laboratory community. Recognised as a need by the ANFF, this community-driven approach leverages the collective expertise and enthusiasm of lab professionals to foster sustainable practices across all affiliated labs.

Challenges faced

Initially, the primary hurdle was establishing an effective communication medium accessible and easy to use by a diverse group of participants. An email forum was chosen as the most suitable solution, allowing extensive participation with minimal maintenance—crucial for a volunteer-driven initiative. Additionally, significant effort was required in the early stages to engage labs in participating in sustainability certifications and actively contributing to the community of practice. Overcoming these challenges has been crucial for maintaining momentum and ensuring the initiative’s growth.

Getting involved

If you’re interested in joining the Labs Who Care community or starting a similar initiative in another area, here are some tips:

  1. Assess Existing Support: Evaluate the current sustainability programs and resources available in your organization. If a strong program like Green Impact exists, consider how your initiative can complement rather than duplicate efforts.
  2. Build a Volunteer Community: Assemble a group of motivated individuals who are passionate about sustainability. Encourage them to share success stories and best practices.
  3. Choose Effective Communication Tools: Select communication platforms that are accessible and easy to use for all participants. An email forum or an online community platform can facilitate broad participation and engagement.
  4. Engage and Educate: Actively involve labs and professionals in sustainability certifications and community activities. Provide education and resources to help them implement sustainable practices.
  5. Foster Collaboration: Create an environment where ideas and innovations can be freely shared and implemented across various labs. Collaboration is key to driving sustainable change.

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


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Monash Labs Who Care Meeting

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