Time to make a change – towards a more sustainable lab-life!

Loading dishwashers completely, running computers only when necessary, separating waste properly – these are feasible measures in everyday life – but we do not only mean at home, but also in the laboratory. "Taken by themselves, such actions for sure mean a small improvement - but it only becomes really efficient and sustainable if everyone helps. And everyone can do this easily and with little effort," says Nadja Rotte. She is a member of our Clinical Research Group 'Male Germ Cells' (CRU326). There, as well as at the Reproduction.MS Initiative (Repro.MS), a movement has come together that wants to bring more sustainability and climate protection into the laboratories of university medicine. "We want to make individuals aware of how simply something can be achieved even at their own workplace," says Jörg Gromoll, spokesman of our CRU.


What many don't know: laboratory buildings consume up to five times more energy than office buildings. 1.8 percent of global plastic consumption is attributable to this sector. A single fume hood can use as much electricity as an entire single-family household – unfortunately, research is rarely climate-friendly. Certainly, the need for many resource-intensive – and highly relevant to society – processes cannot be noticeably reduced without a loss in quality, but: "As a scientific community, it is obviously our responsibility to take care of our environment also at our workplaces," Gromoll demands on behalf of CRU326 and Repro.MS. Each and every individual can get involved, he says - but what does that mean in concrete terms?


Dr. Kerstin Hermuth-Kleinschmidt, founder of NIUB sustainability consulting, recommends a systematic three-step approach: "First, you have to know your own resource requirements: how much water, energy and materials, how much plastic packaging or chemicals do I consume? The second step is to collect ideas on how to change daily routines to reduce this consumption and make it more sustainable. Finally, the suggestions are integrated into everyday life and, if successful, established in the long term." The important thing is that climate protection requires teamwork. Although conscientious implementation ultimately lies with the individual, efficient sustainable work is only possible through joint planning and implementation.


There are many concrete approaches: They range from simply 'Lights out!' at the end of the day, to reusing washable centrifuge tubes, to systematic recycling programs. To get started, the active sustainability group has created an overview of the numerous possibilities. This can be downloaded and shared virtually with colleagues (DE / EN). The preceding CRU326 / Repro.MS seminar with guest speaker Hermuth-Kleinschmidt is also available here. The group has already thought about its next step: "In further events, we want to show concepts and ways in which the research facilities, but also the clinics at UKM, can make an essential contribution to saving energy and reducing environmental pollution, so that climate protection does not stop at the workplace," says Nadja, looking ahead. "A first concrete step toward this is to have one person in each institute responsible for implementing and caring for sustainability measures."


If you have any questions, ideas or further suggestions on the topic, we would be pleased to hear from you: Nadja Rotte, Institute of Reproductive Genetics; Jörg Gromoll, Centre for Reproductive Medicine and Andrology. For a German version of this news article, check out the official press release of the Medical Faculty here.


Event tip: 'Campus earth 2022' – the WWU is hosting its first Sustainability Day on October 20. Everyone is invited to attend the numerous events - including lectures, citizen dialogs and mobile laboratories - free of charge and registration.