A conversation with Kerstin Hermuth-Kleinschmidt about the importance of sustainability and how to start a sustainable lab
A conversation with Kerstin Hermuth-Kleinschmidt about the importance of sustainability in the lab and how to start a sustainable lab
Jo: Today at Access 2 Perspectives Conversations, I'm very glad to be able to introduce to you Kerstin Hermuth-Kleinschmidt.
Yeah, welcome Kerstin and
Kerstin: Hi Jo.
Jo: Let's dive right into the conversation. So a little bit of background about you. So you're a coach and consultant in sustainability for research. We'll hear more from you like, as, as we progress into the discussion. And today we will discuss sustainability and a research context and the social benefits that a sustainable research approach generates. So to get started, would you please tell us a bit, a little bit about your background, where you came from as a researcher, and what brought you into your current position was a consultant for sustainable research practices?
Kerstin: Yeah, okay. Yeah. Thanks, again, also for the invitation. And yeah, I'm happy to be here. From my background. Well, actually, I've started chemistry, I did my PhD in microbiology. And well, then I started, let's say, a normal career in the life sciences industry. So I left lab, but
I somehow got still connected. I went into sales helping scientists, still, and I was later on the technical support. And actually, I liked both positions. It was…but you got in contact with a lot of people. You're still as I said, somehow connected to people working in the lab to science. And then I had two children, and a family break.
Yeah, and it may sound a little bit pathetic, but actually, it was like, it again changes the view on the world and you're seeing what is going wrong in the world.
Jo: Well it’s not pathetic. It’s totally normal. Crazy humans in the house. And like, everything changes, like, yeah, a lot. And when we experience like, I haven't, but for those who experience for the first time, it's really like, what? Like, other priorities, all of a sudden, you're not like, ourselves are not the center of the world anymore. It's somebody else.
Kerstin: Yeah, yeah, that's true. And I think well, and this, actually just this, this was a strong motivation. And I was really thinking, okay, yeah. What can I do? So I've changed in my private life. Habits, like using less plastic, eating less, or actually no meat anymore? buying secondhand all these things. And then I thought, Okay, I'm going back to work. But
I want to do something with a purpose. And on the other end, yeah,
Jo: Sorry, can I just ask? So I'm, like, did this change of lifestyle happen because you then saw, Oh, I have children now. And I want to make sure to live in front of them. And also leave them a world that's livable, like, you know, what's also many discussions going around? And, like, knowing I assume, and I'm pretty sure you've already before having children, being cautious and aware of and trying like, like many of us trying to be as live a sustainable life as possible. But what changed, then that made you become a vegetarian fully? Or what was then the trigger to enhance that?
Kerstin: Yeah. But yeah, you're right. It was already before that. Yeah, I was thinking about the environment. I mean, it actually started already when I was a teen, I mean, to my time there was this big discussion about dying of the forest. So this was already you got conscious about the environment? And actually, when Yeah, and then I don't know, then your tenure was shortened. You also have more well, not more time, but you think about okay, well, what can I do? What can I change and you have perhaps more possibilities to change and in your private life and to really think about okay, what can I change?
What and you also bought, or I don't know, you're reading more, you're listening more. So it's not like a
Okay, what from one day to another, but it's more progress. And the more you're diving into this, the more you get to know, okay? I don't know how to save energy. And then you go, okay, plastics are a problem. And then you say, Okay, what kind of clothes do I buy? Where are they made? And so on and so on. And I think it's really?
Yeah. As I said, it's a progress that's going on.
Jo: Yeah. So I heard from others, like friends and colleagues with children, that making sure that the kids are the best quality possible, like in food, like, processed as natural as possible healthy fruits and vegetables. And those you can only get in and get organic farm shops or organic, grown, organically labeled. And the whole thing with the labeling is like open science like, why is something that's extra normal and good for our bodies and systems, I doesn't need an extra label, I can we not label processed food is processed and how it's been processed, as compared to putting an organic label on anything that has not been polluted with pesticides or anything.
But that's, again, something that we can fully agree on. But we live in this world, and we deal with what we have to deal with. Let’s move on. So back to the research context.
So when was the trigger that you said, Okay, I want to do consultancies and help researchers to do better research with a view on their ecological footprint.
Kerstin: Yeah. But actually, when I was thinking about going back to work I was really researching to search for jobs that are really Yeah, combining an ecological background and also the scientific background. And yeah, in the end, I did not find what I was looking for. Now. So I had some help and some support.When I was thinking about okay, I will do it on my own.
For a little bit sloughed into another idea, but actually done in the, while this program was there, they really asked me, okay, what do you want to do? And somehow I said, Okay, actually, what I want to twist really help the people that are working in the life science companies or life sciences research to become more sustainable. And when I created some research, and then I got to all these numbers, like a lab building uses five times more energy than a normal office, building a freezer, uses as much energy as one household or even more.
And all these numbers shocked me, because I did not know it. Because, yeah, when I was working in the lab, this was no, nobody was talking about this. And then I said, Okay, wow, this is interesting. This is something I could do. And then I didn't even find somebody who's doing this already. I found some. The migraine lab was already there in the US there was already an organization in the UK. And what and then I thought, okay, then, yeah, let's try. Yeah.
Jo: So how did you then jump into action? Like, what is this? Let's try it. Let's get to it. Now, you're successfully booked and are frequently booked for the courses. It's a hot topic, everybody. Also research institutions are trying to reduce their footprint or carbon footprint. So
yeah, because also as an entrepreneur and former researcher myself, it's a whole different way of thinking and like, maybe for this conversation, maybe we can take this up some other time, what it takes to go the entrepreneurial way coming out of academia. But like, so basically, what were the initial steps you took, as in calling institutions and asking for the interest in such topics?
Kerstin: Yeah, or just also, yeah, just like, I don't know, for example, going to fairs asking people okay. I'm proposing this. Are you interested? Also calling universities also what I also did was more like, writing articles.
Together I was giving presentations to make people aware and I also have to say that as I still had two children, which were little, I started very, very slowly. So really not a 100%. But more to 40%, perhaps, like this. And then when my children were also my business grew, let's say like this.
So yeah, and yeah. And during the years, let's say the interest has become more and more. And I think now it's really
Yeah. All the people are talking about sustainability or, yeah, a lot. A lot of people are talking about sustainability in the lab, and they want to change. And it's even not only the people in the lab, but also the well, let's say, the companies, the universities, they got aware that this is a very important topic.
Jo: Yeah, and, and so let's go and like this, the show also, this brand is called Access 2 Perspectives. What is your perspective on sustainability in a research context? How do you approach the topic? And what are the subtopics, or the categories that you inform about within sustainability?
Kerstin: So I'm actually talking about sustainability in life sciences. The first thing you think about is ecology, because you really have to respect resource consumptions like energy, water, plastics. But I'm also diving because sustainability means that you're looking into ecological aspects, but also economic and social aspects. So economic aspects are really the costs. And if you're, if you're saving energy, then you're saving, then you're saving costs.
It's also about the innovations that you're innovating in a lab or that you're using in the lab. It's also about quality, so the quality of your experiments. So when you're changing something in the lab, and you don't get the same quality of the experiment or the results, then it's not sustainable, because then perhaps you have to redo it again. And use resources again. And regarding social aspects, it's also about health and safety. So that's for sure, because you're working in an environment where you have to work safely.
But it's also about yeah, I think other social aspects, like how you're working in the entire scientific system.
I think it's also about this enormous stress that you have to publish a lot of things to get grants to get awareness as a young researcher.
It's also about like all these, these also gender aspects. And the other thing is also, I think what we also have to keep in mind is really also the SDGs, the Sustainable Development Goals.
Because everybody has to have to think about and have to ask themselves, what can we contribute to the agenda 2030. And in science, for example, while you have SDG number three, it's good health and well being okay, that's really a goal where science can contribute. But you also have other goals, like, I think it's nine, about consumption. And if you look under big plastic consumption, then it's really here, science can do something, or even the SDG about life and water. And those things, okay. What does science have to do with it? But when you're working in the lab, and you're working in a molecular biology lab, you're using agarose and where does agarose come from? It's from Red algae. And these red algaes are harvested on the shores of Morocco or in Chile. And it really was some years ago that they're heavily over harvested, and it went…It was that or what happened is that Morocco did, the government stopped the harvesting.
Because it was too much and yeah, and nowadays, they're trying not to cultivate algae on, that you're cultivating them
Jo: in petri dishes in the lab?
Kerstin: No. Still on the ocean but special. Yes, like in aquaculture, and also the production of Agarose, it uses a lot of solvents like DMSO. There's a lot of solid waste that's produced and so, so indirectly, you're using, again, a lot of resources, and Balderas. Now, some companies are changing their production, so they're using less organic solvents, but I think you really have to be aware. Yeah, what's the impact of your work is so direct, but also and also the indirect impact?
Jo: Yeah, it's really interesting that you mentioned agarose, because I literally haven't sorted by the night naively assumed like, oh, it's probably generated somewhere in the lab, I wasn't aware until today really, is a natural product that that needs I was seeing like, from the oceans and that effect, and the nations were not aware these algae happen to grow.
Which for them is an income and rich generating revenue stream. But as you said, like in terms of overharvesting, then mates.
Image risk the health of the whole ecosystem, and then resent also the health of the population. So it has quite an effect. And wow, okay, so basically, what, what can we do in research practice as in, like, being aware of how, like, what certain supply systems in the lab where they're coming from, how their usage and consumption affects other people in other countries and continent?
So is it like I assume, like one approach would be to be more considerate, and how to use be less wasteful. And then while we often hear and as experienced ourselves, as we both have been researchers as well,
What about when we have to do a certain number of experiments, and we have to yeah, we need a certain amount just to be sure that we have roughly replicability covered.
So we'll have reproducible results and then disseminate. But from your experience, and also from the discussions you have with your participants and and the people that you work with,
what did they see themselves and what they can change and reduce and the consumption?
Kerstin: Well, I think a good thing to start is really to, we think you're, first of all, I think, to, to know the numbers, really to know that, as I said, before freezer, uses as much energy as a single family house, or that autoclaves use a huge amount of, of energy and water, all that the water you're using in the lab is as purified water. So to produce one liter of purified water, you need about three to five liters of tap water. And truly to be conscious about it, I think that's the first step and then to really look into your routines. So for example, if you're entering the lab in the morning, but it's the first thing you're doing, are you really putting on the water bath because you need it somewhere in the afternoon.
Another easy thing is to shut the sash of the fume cupboard. Because then you're using less energy. In the case that it's a so-called variable air volume Chatbot. That means if you're shutting the sash, then automatically the error that goes through the sash is less.
And this again saves energy because you have to be aware that all the air that you're using in the lab, it's humidified or dehumidified, it's prepared. And this all costs a lot of energy.
Other things really to shut off instruments when you're not using them to avoid standby to put your feelers to minus 70 degrees are also to avoid plastics so well.
Jo: So on that note, like with the freezer challenge, because as on the preparation for our conversation today and the meeting we had before. So that's actually because most freezers are set to minus 80 degrees Celsius.
And the assumption is that this is the temperature that certain probes need to stay intact over a period of time. But then most has been found to be to stay intact also was less like 10 degrees less meaning 70 minus 70. And then actually reduces the energy consumption by what was it? 30? Or 40%?
Kerstin: 30% yeah. It always depends on the instrument you're using. So yeah, but this is a yeah, it goes from 20 to 40%.
Jo: Wow. So that's quite a big saving, when, basically, it's quite a reduction of carbon emission. And yeah, okay. So just because the, like, it's like, there's certain things like that, you know, listing what that everyone can do in the lab, or that lab manager can announce, okay, there's no we how we do things, but then to tell everyone what effect that actually has, and how much savings possible. I think that's been really inspiring and convincing to act on.
Kerstin: Yeah, yeah. I also think I mean, I always think you have to know the impact that you're doing and really to not only know, okay, wow, I'm using such an amount of energy, but also to get the information, okay, we saved this amount of energy, or this amount of plastic because we reduced or we reused things. So again, this really helps.
Jo: On the tone of reusing, or on the note, because what pained me, seeing as a PhD student is the enormous waste of plastic with the pipette tips. And what I've seen in universities, and I've known also from my mom and grandmother, because they are medical researchers is that they had and universities have also done this during the time of my PhD, and to autoclave but now he said, autoclaving time, there's a huge energy impact. So would you say it's better if you had to decide, okay, are we autoclaving, the pipette tips are nurses, and then also manually sweating, and many have argued that that's too much time consumption. So look at the overall cost as including human resources. So it's better to save on the plastic waste and autoclave but then adding time by the lab staff to have to manually or automatically pipette it after autoclaving, which again, consumes energy back into the holder, the packages?
Or is it better to rely on the blessing waste and loss?
Because you have to really look close? And then make a decision based on what's better for the time being?
Kerstin: Yeah, I think there are two aspects. So the first aspect is the aspect of the world, as I said before the quality of your experiments. So the question is, what can be reused? And in which context? Can I reuse these things like a pipet, really, people are reusing them. So it's quite impressive what they're doing are also Falcon tubes or other things. So in which context and secondly, about reusing these items, also with autoclaving. And watching them, it saves co2 emissions, it saves energy. And there's an interesting paper and I think we can put it into the show notes than it was a paper where they looked, for example, into Falcon ships, and they reuse them. So they didn't autoclaving washing autoclaving and then reusing and they saved
11 times the co2 emissions in regard to the single use ICT. So that's, I think that's really impressive. And they also did the calculation regarding the money. And they also said reusing plastic also saves money. So again, yeah, it's, but I also see the point that you're using a lot of time and it's, as I said, it always depends on the lab, but on the other hand, it's yeah, you have to think about it. Do I want to buy single use plastic and go on like it was before. And knowing what the impact is, do I find a way in a routine to really implement these changes and say, okay, then well, then we need more time. But we can somehow organize this. And there are samples where labs are doing this.
So, yeah, it's also a decision, I would say.
Jo: Yeah, and organizing means also that sometimes different labs at one Institute and sometimes also, two or three Institute's can come together to invest in any device that helps to automate certain processes for reuse, and not loving and whatnot, which over time, and hopefully within a year or maximum, two years will reduce like puzzle on that device that have has been invested in well paid for itself, because their savings down the line.
Yeah, there's all kinds of scenarios possible. What is like in your training, what is the biggest aha moment that you've observed? where participants were like, Oh, my God, I wasn't aware of this situation. I was like, Okay, this topic is actually relevant, and we can actually do something.
Kerstin: Yeah, well, I think the numbers tell really, the people the numbers, how much energy they're using, how much water they're using, and how much plastics I mean, there was a study in 2014. And they estimated, from Dell waste generation, that all the labs and life sciences produce about 5.5 million tons of plastic, which is roughly the 2% of the total plastic waste that is generated in the year, globally, or it's 550 times the mass of the Eiffel Tower. Imagine this.
Jo: I can imagine but, but it's a lot, I can say so much.
What's interesting also, because with Access 2 Perspectives I personally, I'm very much involved and engaged in issues of global research equity. So working with researchers who often find themselves in resource poor settings means that they have little funding of any available to conduct research in the first place.
There, it's often out of necessity that they reuse materials. So they have, of course, by definition of a default, a very low carbon footprint.
And then, so in resource rich settings now in generally speaking Western Europe and Latin America, and other parts of the world, if we now reconsider our consumption in laboratories, well, first of all, that also helps them to redistribute because they're saving money. So the funds the research funds can also redistributed towards more equitable research practices. And to make funds available for researchers in resource poor settings or increasingly so and everybody wins because we all have less impact or a negative impact on the environment. And hopefully the research will result in findings and conclusions how we can actually improve impact on the environment as humans. Yeah, just one that also so there is a multi part there's multiple aspects to consider and what's what seems like first a limitation or a necessity to for change in some settings is a necessity by default and other settings. But at the end of the day, if we approach these topics consciously and with consideration, everybody wins.
Kerstin: Yeah, that's true. And I mean, just adding that you said that you said okay, in the rich countries, we're using much more resources than in poorer countries, it's also like yeah, it's a very simple but having pipet boxes why always buying new pipet boxes, you can also buy these insert or you can even yeah, wash them and reuse them. There are also labs that are doing this so really be conscious about it. And yeah, that is also true. So I mean, I think there should also be more equity in the research and the global research. So that really, we as the rich countries take care that we are not overusing the resources and also give the money to other resource researchers and research organizations in, in other countries in poorer countries.
Jo: So when I was asking for several, one or two examples and best practices in the lab, which we've already listed more than two already, but you mentioned the eco mapping method, which I think is a frequent tool or methodology that you'll share in your workshops. Tell us more about that, please.
Kerstin: Yeah, actually, it's a method to get, which is very individual, which you can do in your lab, or which I promoted in my lab, in my workshops or in my processes. So the Eco mapping method is actually it comes from the so called E math, Environmental Management System,
or the so-called E-math easy method, which is an easy method to implement the E-math in a company, so actually that’s where it comes from.
It's a tool in the end for a corporation or for small and middle sized companies.
So the eco mapping method is nothing else than the first step. So you're doing first of all, you're doing an environmental impact assessment.
And what I did well, I've done all this training for the E-math, easy method. And then I took the Eco mapping method, which, and now you're looking at different environmental aspects like safety, energy, water. And for the lab, I've also added chemicals and consumables.
And then what you're doing, you're going through the lab looking at all these different aspects. But what you're doing also is that you have a team and one person is, for example, focused on the topic of energy, the other is focused on safety, the third one is focused on water and so on. And by having this focused view, you'll, you'll see more things you'll really get more points.
And then you're going through the lab, and then you write down what you see in the so-called Eco map, which is nothing else than the floor plan. And then you also make a priority. So like, Oh, I've seen here, Thompson, oh, we should change it as soon as possible, or while we should look into this issue, or you also get a checklist. And then you have, yeah, and you also take a photo. So you already have documentation. And then on the second day, you're taking all these points together, you're discussing, you're looking, okay, I've seen this, what are the actions that we can take now, and in general making an action plan, writing it and then you can go on, and I'm helping these peoples. So I'm there during this process. So we're going to get through the lab. And then after three to six months,
I call them again, and we talk again, and see okay, how is your process going on? What have you done? What is easy? What is difficult? And I'm also there the whole time, I'm also there for questions, or if they need some search for specific questions.
Jo: So what are some examples that people then find? After they've been sensitized by you for the training when you go through the lab with them? And is it that you point it out to them? Or do they find it themselves?
Kerstin: I think it's both.
Jo: As you have the experience now, because you've worked with quite a few labs and I think it's easy for you to find the tweakable points or things, but what are these just to mention a few examples?
Kerstin: Yeah, for example, it's just the instruments which are on so just to see okay, wow, these instruments are on we could easily switch it off, or to really look into routines again. Somehow it's also like a routine is already established. But then while you're not sticking to it, and then really to readjust it and say, Okay, we really make your process out of this. So these are the things that come into my mind.
Jo: Yeah. And so because you mentioned the process, is it also a matter of lab management at the end of the day to have calendars? Or where people can sign up to use a certain device? If it's rare to research groups? And to make sure that the last person who uses it, which is what the device often does, has rules and guidelines, basically, that everyone is aware of.
Kerstin: Yeah, that's true. So having rules and guidelines, having stickers there that remind you, such little things can also help or to really think about digit mod digitalization in the lab so that you really have, for example, an inventory management system that you really know. Okay, where are the things? Do we have a first in first out policy?
This also already helped. And, as I said, sometimes that's already established, sometimes it's, for example, advised to.
And also to know, sorry very quickly, also to know what is in my freezer, and where it is so that I don't open the door and I'm searching there.
Jo: Freezer map. It reminds me of the labeling of things in the freezer boxes, because there's been some rare cases where people from different nationalities who work in the lab label the tubes for their own language. And it’s also about accessibility through language, to agree to a common language in the lab, either, for us, like in Germany could be German, but if it's an international lab it should be English, and everybody sticks towards all these things. And that's, like, it sounds trivial. And like, What has that to do with energy saving, but I found myself sometimes standing in front of a freezer, like these are just real life experiences, having the freezer door open and trying to decipher what's written on the box while the doors are open, and when I was a child, my mom and or father always reminded me don't keep the fridge or the freezer open for too long, because then it will, overheat and build up ice and whatnot. Again, consumes a lot of energy unnecessarily, so just a little anecdote.
Kerstin: That's true. For sure
Jo: Okay. So, are you also sometimes working with non life scientists, like people, researchers who work mostly in the office, and what are the things that we can optimize there?
Kerstin: I mean, it's always a, let's say, I mean, I think every researcher, even if he works in the lab, he's also in the office and working there.
Jo: I'm just wondering, for those who may be listening and were like, yeah, it's all nice and good, but I don't work in the lab.
Kerstin: So I didn't work with researchers outside of the life sciences. But I think there are also things that you can be aware of. So I think one big topic is really I think, Jan Heidelberg, also talked about it in the other podcast, is flying. So researchers are flying a lot. So another thing and this is really a big impact. So what you can do is really, either not to fly to see okay, can I take the train? Secondly, to think about it, is it possible to do a conference virtually?
Yeah. or to see okay. How often do I go to a conference or really to focus? Okay, this is a really important conference. Yeah, I can see a lot of interesting people, collaborators. And then again, you can use it as effectively as possible.
Jo: Many will argue, I think you and I as well, like there is an added value on being at a conference in person, to meet in real lif e with other researchers from around the world. For me it was eye opening as a PhD student to see the actual people who wrote certain research articles. And for instance, my work, but I agree with you that universities or research departments or research labs can have their own policies, okay?
Yes, we want on-site and in person conferences for our PhD students to attend, but not more than one a year or one every other. And then every other event could be a hybrid. So we attend virtually as for, again, for the consciousness of not having to find necessarily so and then really making informed decisions of which one should that be? How often do they occur? Does it fit with the, with the schedule, and the progress of the research so as also hear certain, like, different factors to consider. And within Europe, it becomes easier and easier as a matter of costs to take the train vs the flight. And it's funny at all, how flying is subsidized or how it's so much cheaper as compared to taking the train. But I think politics also adjust there and make it more affordable, and therefore having higher incentives for train rides, which are also relaxing. And then again, you might think, Oh, well, it takes so much longer, but going from like when I considered going from, let's say, to Paris from Berlin.
I think you go through cologne, and then I'm not even sure it’s been a while, but it's actually doable. And it's very comfortable. And you can read a book or several research papers, you can take your laptop and get some work done. As in scholarly writing, reading a manuscript on processing your data.
So there's all these things and also, it doesn't really take much longer if you consider the time it takes to go to the airport, to be there on time to go through customs and security checks. And then out again, to actually make it to the time slot. Where do you save in taking the plane, or the train, sometimes it's half an hour, really, if you consider all of that. But this is what I realized on several occasions.
And then again, it’s so relaxing. I think it's also more healthy to take the train.
Your mind has the necessary time to adjust to the new environment.
Kerstin: Yeah, I can totally agree. And it's also the experience that I'm making, and I also like going to other places by train, because then yeah, I can really use time in the train.
Jo: So okay, for those who are so skeptical, I think we've convinced or didn't have to convince many of our listeners, but if somebody is listening to us and is still skeptical, I'm not sure where to start, what's a super easy starting point. Where you think any researcher, irrespective of the discipline, could tweak just a little thing. I mean, we can maybe list three things. So one nice, long standing topic for me is and this has been around also for more than a decade, is to consider what do I really need to print and what can I keep in a digital form. So the consideration is to print something. The second is deleting emails that you don't need anymore, like unnecessary clutter on your computer, because like the digital carbon footprint is really something that I think is not discussed often enough. And I am trying to delete and also empty my digital bin on the computer at least once a week.
If not, immediately when I delete something then I'm also trying to consider removing it from the machine which helps the performance of the computer, but it also reduces carbon emissions. So that's two and the third one from me.
Like super easy would be, taking the bicycle to work. For me, I'm mostly working from home-office, but otherwise, I have a car for many reasons. I’m very considerate of one rental and I really need to take it over, take public transport instead or bicycle, especially distances. And these are not necessarily related to research, but are very much a part of the research practice.
Kerstin: Yeah, that's true. already. Yes. As we create tips, what would I say? As said before, really? Be conscious of the energy, you're using the really, if possible, just putting off very easy, but also very well known is putting off the light.
Being aware of where you're. I have to think about that.
Yeah, also, things like, I mean, if you go abroad and think about what you're eating, or what you're drinking, drinking tap water, tap water is, is very pure water, and you don't need to buy it in plastic bottles in the end.
Jo: If anybody's concerned about the quality of the water coming out of the tap, which generally isn't a problem in most countries, but there's also filters like physical filters that you can just use and filter the water that you consume in a day.
It doesn't break because it's also a good reminder for hydration of our systems of our bodies like to keep hydrated so that we, because it also keeps our brain going. And it's generally healthy to drink water over other beverages.
Kerstin: And then you just think like, you know, from the personal life like eating retinol, which from the region, the things? Yeah, that's what I would say. And as you said, we're really going by bike to work. Looking into the traveling habits, also looking into Yes, you said digitalization, and that's, that's a big issue. Also, as you said, regarding emails and deleting emails, it's also about the scientific data. So how much data are you generating where they're stored is also to know that all these simulations, for example, in bioinformatics, cost a lot of energy. And there's even a paper about the carbon footprint of bioinformatics. So you can also do it, put it into the show notes. So that's, I think it was 100 nanoseconds. To simulate a Tabak mosaik virus takes, I think, between somewhere like 17 to 40 kilograms of co2 emissions.
And that's crazy.
Jo: Considering what primary research data do we need to keep? Well, there's also the scholarly record and integrity. But yeah, there's, there's always a certain amount of,
how do I rephrase that, are any processed data and, and read trials and re processing the data, and then just making sure not all unnecessary store too many copies of it.
And having a good data management plan and affecting it also helps to reduce the clutter of data and that also leads to a healthier mindset. Because at the end of the day, on towards the end of a PhD, or any research project, it's so useful to have a good data management in place, because then you can just easily put the data together and, and write about it and draw conclusions rather than having to organize the data at towards the end of a research project, which has not been done throughout.
And that also brings us back to some of the services that we provide us at Access 2 Perspectives and many of our colleagues. And there's also many self learning tools out there for how to plan your research, data management, which eventually coming back to this topic helps to reduce carbon footprint because we know where and how we store the data.
Kerstin: Yeah, that's true. That's a really good point. And I think we really have to be aware of our footprint in the digital world, let's say.
Jo: Oh, as a, like a free, give our listeners a take home message, other than from what they've already taken with them from this conversation. But what's your future outlook? What's the best case scenario? How do you see research practice being done in the next five to 10 years? And hopefully, sooner rather than later?
Kerstin: Yeah, I think what's already changing, I would say, since two years is really this awareness that the people are getting aware, and not only getting aware, but really want to change something and that are changing things in the lab. So I think that's quite going on. And the other thing is, I think there will be more awareness about resource consumption, the energy consumption, I hope we will also switch to renewable energies in research. This would be a go, but I think it's going on.
And also really to reduce plastics, for example, or to have what we have already now that there are recycling programs for specific products, not so many.
Not so many yet. But I think there are things going on, or to also have also regarding plastic to have other resources to make plastic out of it. So there's one example where we make factory tubes out of used cooking oil, which I find very interesting. So using a waste cream to make this plastic again.
Jo: It's a circular economy, right?
Kerstin: I mean, not yet, because it is already a circular economy. But on the other end, it's still polypropylene and we still have problems recycling it.
Or all the waste that is coming from labs, it always depends if she can recycle it or not.
Jo: Depending on what kind of goods it's been exposed to.
Kerstin: But I think these and I also think that in academic education, there's also things going on. I think we have to put more focus on this, but really, to educate the people that are studying to educate them to work more sustainably in the lab from the beginning. And I hope that this also will be put into place in the next few years.
Jo: And make it a default state, not something special. Like, let's make sustainable research practices, the new normal starting tomorrow. And today.
Kerstin: Yeah, that's true.
Jo: Thank you so much Kerstin. So your contact details are also available in the show notes. So whoever is interested in booking your workshop or learning more from you, and about your work, can contact you directly. And, of course, always happy to redirect. To bridge the connections.
Yeah, are there any events coming up that any announcements you would like to invite our listeners to?
Kerstin: Yeah, perhaps we are happy to organize a lab sustainability summit at the revolution, which is a fair just taking place at Hannover, Germany, from the 9th to the 11th of May.
So just as interesting peps for the German ones, there's also a project called Nath labs. And in the context of this project, which runs for about two years, there will also be…
Jo: an event.
Kerstin: Yeah, there will also be events.
Jo: Okay, I'm sure you have the announcements on your website. So any updates will be announced there. And we might also come together again, to talk or facilitate one of the other sustainable research practices webinars. So watch this space, as well. And welcome back anytime soon when there's something new to share in this broad topic of how we can make
research more sustainable and more equitable.
So thank you so much for joining us today. See you soon.
Kerstin: Thanks a lot and thanks for the invitation and it was fun to make this podcast.
Jo: It was also fun for me. Thank you so much.