The Power of Community: Spreading the Word About Lab Sustainability Matters

When people in the lab community help spread the word about why sustainability matters, great things happen

Corey Hastings

Corey Hastings

ViewFull Profile
Learn about ourEditorial Policies.
Published:Feb 10, 2022
|4 min read
Register for free to listen to this article
Listen with Speechify

Introducing sustainability to the community responsible for the world’s life-changing medical and technical innovations through transformative programs and education is My Green Lab’s mission, but working toward creating a culture of sustainability through science is truly a team effort. Everyone in the lab community—from scientists to the people who support or work with laboratories at organizations large and small—has the power to spread the word about why sustainability matters. And it turns out, when they do, great things happen. 

Sustainability begins with an awareness of the impact of our actions, and there is no better way to spread awareness than by harnessing the power of your community and sharing what you know to help achieve a greener world.

 Why community matters

Why does community matter so much overall? “It is most important to share one’s personal thoughts and actions on sustainability with others because we have the most impact and influence over our own community,” says Christina Greever, My Green Lab’s sustainability program manager. “Our hearts and minds can be more easily moved by those closest to us. This is why we shouldn’t be shy about sharing our own lab sustainability goals—and successes—with others in our network. For someone who is on the fence about sustainability, hearing from a friend or colleague in their own community about the ease of making sustainable actions can make a huge difference.”

The old adage “it takes a village” is true for a reason—when motivated by energetic and passionate individuals, a confident community forms, one that works toward and achieves collective goals. “The world is made up of people, not places,” says Tim Dillon, European product manager at Mettler-Toledo Rainin, and a My Green Lab ambassador. “Harnessing the power of collective action for change is our superpower, the task we face now is to turn that superpower toward sustainable choices,” he continues. “Positive action starts with the individual decision to act, the knowledge to act wisely, and the fortitude to persist. This cycle is magnified by the power of community, and as a community grows, so does its power for good, as individuals within a community continue to learn and grow in their understanding.”

The strength of a community also fosters accountability and creativity—important factors that can help drive action and build trust among colleagues. “Not only does a well-organized community promote accountability, but it also enables the generation of new ideas and restores lost motivation that, on an individual level, is hardly possible. Creating and fostering shared experiences can be a powerful driver to promote sustainable science,” says Namrata Jain, My Green Lab’s marketing consultant.

Using your voice

While building strong communities is the foundation for successful execution of sustainable goals, it’s important to communicate those goals effectively. Cintia Milagre, assistant professor at the Institute of Chemistry at University Estadual Paulista in Brazil and a My Green Lab ambassador, elaborates: “Community achieves more together than anyone could achieve alone. However, from my experience, the utmost meaningful action is to engage all community members, from faculty, staff, students, and directors to the cleaning agents, by explaining what and why the changes are happening. Talk to them, listen to their suggestions, and take them into account when appropriate. Everyone needs to understand the importance of greening actions. Do not just communicate actions without explanation. That is the key to failure."

Greever continues by explaining that how you use your voice also matters. “Scientists don’t always realize the power of their voices within the scientific sector—your purchasing decisions matter; where you choose to travel for conferences (or how) matters; your sustainable actions at the lab bench matter; what you discuss with suppliers and sales reps matters. Collectively, the voice of scientists could be enormous, and the lab sustainability movement has been working for years to bring those voices together into a loud chorus that will change how science is done.”

How to build and grow community

Bringing voices together is a core tenet of My Green Lab’s mission, and building community through programs like the My Green Lab Ambassador Program and Green Lab Certification helps establish a culture of sustainability within organizations and beyond.

“I think one of the really amazing things about our programs is how they can start from leadership at any level in an organization,” says James Connelly, My Green Lab’s CEO. “Often, our relationship with a large multinational pharma company or university will start with interest from a single interested scientist. Then, once the project certifies, other people in the organization start to notice and we start a larger global project. That is really the power of community at work!”

Engaging in the power of community and connecting with like-minded individuals has never been easier. To begin your journey, connect with champions of sustainability through the My Green Lab Ambassador Program

Fiona Young, MSc, (left), James Connelly (middle), and Ilyssa Gordon, MD, PhD (right)

Want to learn more? Join us live!

Toward a Sustainable Clinical Lab

Wednesday, August 31, 2022, at 11:00am-12:00pm EDT

In this webinar, James Connelly, CEO of My Green Lab, will discuss green labs and opportunities to work toward building more sustainable clinical labs. Special guest speakers, Ilyssa O. Gordon, MD, PhD, associate professor of pathology and medical director of sustainability at the Cleveland Clinic, and Fiona Young, MSc, senior medical scientist at Irish Blood Transfusion Service National Donor Screening Laboratory, will share examples of successful changes implemented in clinical labs.


Top Image:
Sustainability begins with an awareness of the impact of our actions.
iStock, Martin Barraud