We need lab research to understand the diseases of today and find the treatments of tomorrow. But like other areas of healthcare, it creates a lot of waste and uses a lot of energy.
A year ago, head of cancer research at The Ottawa Hospital Dr. Rebecca Auer was inspired to tackle this problem after attending a webinar from the University of Ottawa’s Planetary Health Community of Practice on the role of health care workers in the Climate Emergency.
“The take-home message was that we can’t wait to become experts to make change,” she remembers. “The most successful initiatives begin with a group of engaged individuals coming together and simply getting started. So that’s what I decided to do in our cancer research program.”
A call for volunteers was sent out, and soon the Cancer Therapeutics Program Green Team was formed. The team includes ambassadors from each cancer research lab who meet every month to discuss green practices. The ambassadors recommend and implement program-wide changes and bring eco-friendly practices back to their groups to share during lab meetings.
Lab Manager Carole Doré joined the team because she was trying to be more eco-friendly at home, making her own soap and avoiding paper towels.
“In the lab, it is very difficult to be green –we use so many plastic disposables,” said Doré, who now leads the Green Team. “While I was making good choices at home, it was upsetting going to work and seeing the waste every day.”
The Green Team’s goals are to reduce waste in the lab, minimize the impact of their research on the environment, lower their lab’s carbon footprint, increase engagement and literacy around environmental sustainability in their labs and participate in green initiatives in the greater Ottawa community.
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