These lab coats at the University of Guelph are all green.
Under a sustainability program run by U of G student volunteers, thousands of used lab coats that might have ended up in landfill are finding new use in teaching and research labs on campus. The initiative, called Green Labs Guelph (GLG), aims to extend the lives of lab coats as well as other products.
Green Labs Guelph was created by U of G veterinary student Youstina Makhlouf after she took a first-year chemistry course. Each year, that course sees more than 2,000 students in science, agriculture and engineering purchase a polyester lab coat, packaged in single-use plastic.
Makhlouf was inspired to find a more sustainable approach to that traditional sales model.
GLG now runs a lab coat reuse program that brings sustainability and a sharing economy to the laboratory. Through the campus bookstore, U of G students in any program can donate their lab coats to the organization and collect their deposit. The coats are then available for resale to other students.
With thousands of faculty, staff and students buying lab coats for their studies and work at U of G, Makhlouf says this initiative can have a significant impact.
Built around the concept of a sharing economy – where assets are shared peer-to-peer, free or for a small fee – this program helps decrease waste associated with transporting, packaging and disposal of used lab coats.
“It’s a great way to make sure that unwanted coats that would otherwise be discarded don’t end up in landfill but can find a new life with students who need them,” says Makhlouf.
She credits that introductory chemistry course and a sustainability course she took in third year for sparking the idea for Green Labs Guelph.
Begun by five U of G students, GLG now involves more than 20 student volunteers.
The organization strives to foster leadership and provide numerous sustainable initiatives and resources for University of Guelph students and faculty, says Makhlouf.
Beyond reusing lab coats, Green Labs Guelph also runs a free store that repurposes other items including books, mugs, office décor and desk organizers. Makhlouf says the store helps further encourage sustainability and divert items from landfill.
For more details on lab coat collection pop-ups and donations, follow Green Labs Guelph on social media.
Green Labs Guelph