By Claire Hirashiki- Green Labs
As the quarter comes to an end, we are wrapping up our preliminary data collection for our baseline study of existing lab waste practices. Last Friday, we conducted another waste audit for four more labs in the Biomedical Sciences Research Building. Our findings were quite similar to our first waste audit, in that we found plenty of recyclable plastics mixed with simple waste, which shows that a uniform recycling program is very feasible for this particular building.
Additionally, our group has been brainstorming the best outreach methods without interfering too much in the labs' existing policies. We decided to integrate more of the human element in our study, by conducting interviews with both custodians and researchers in order to get a holistic perspective of the waste-stream's life cycle. When we met with UCLA's Recycling Coordinator, Jesse Escobar, he mentioned his concern over the maintenance staff's capacity to pick up more recycling bins in addition to their normal routine, so we will try to facilitate the process for them by understanding their opinions and adjusting our program as needed. We also have been considering creating educational tools for the researchers themselves, by developing "green agenda items" for their weekly lab meetings. Given the positive and enthusiastic response from the labs, we will have plenty of opportunities for our educational outreach component.
In regard to our wild spring break plans, we will continue processing the data to determine the best recycling bins and informational signage for our intervention. A lot of time will be devoted to understanding which simple plastic materials are waste due to contamination and which are considered safe for recycling. We feel that by creating as little effort on the researchers' parts to recycle and by allowing them to have no doubt in their recycling decisions, we can create a dependable, efficient recycling program. We are all looking forward to the development and implementation of our program this coming spring, so stay tuned!