Winter 2022: The return of Freecycle

Energy & Climate Action - 29 March 2022

Labs use considerable amounts of water, energy, and other resources—but that means there are lots of opportunities for them to be more sustainable. Freecycle Your Labware is a swap-and-trade event that lets University of Alberta labs donate their excess or unused lab supplies and pick up items from other labs. It helps to reduce waste, encourage reuse, and foster networking among campus labs.

What did this semester’s Freecycle look like?

This semester, 15 wonderful labs from across our campuses donated to Freecycle. Together they generously donated 297 kg of labware and office supplies. Coupled with items left over from last semester’s Freecycle (90 kg), donations this semester totaled 387 kg.

The items most in demand were pipette tips, graduated cylinders of various sizes, and all sorts of glass labware (particularly flasks and beakers). Electronics were also very popular this time around—no electronic equipment was left over at the end of the day! Some of the donations included scanners, speakers, and even a brand new printer.

Thanks to your enthusiastic participation we were able to swap and trade 256 kg of labware and office supplies. That is 256 kg diverted from going to the landfill or sitting unused in labs across campus!

This semester we tried something new and accepted donations throughout the day of the event. This ensured a steady flow of donations throughout the day. It also meant we had some excellent donations left over (60 kg to be exact), which will be saved for the next Freecycle event. Combining the items taken by labs and donations saved for the next event, we had a waste diversion rate of 81.7%.

Some donations may be unpopular (items that are not picked up for two consecutive Freecycle events) or unusable (items that may have broken during transport). What happens to them? Anything we are unable to swap and trade or keep for future events is recycled or disposed of through the standard Zero Waste program. This semester we appropriately disposed of 71 kg of unwanted glassware and plastic lab supplies.

Thank you everyone for supporting your fellow campus labs by donating items or participating in Freecycle this year. Your interest and participation in this event helps us plan more Freecycle and lab events for the future!

Distribution Services partnership

We would like to give a special thanks to the Distribution Services team, whose partnership is a key factor in the success of Freecycle. They help to pick up and store donated items prior to the event day, deliver them on the day of the event, and help to properly dispose of leftover items afterwards (particularly electronic equipment). Distribution Services also generously stores any leftover donations for future Freecycle events for us. Without their assistance Freecycle would not be possible.

Other Green Labs initiatives

A green lab is a safe lab. If you would like to participate in more lab-specific sustainability initiatives on campus check out these opportunities:

For more information on any of these initiatives visit the Green Labs webpage.

Program highlight: Apply now for a Campus Sustainability Grant

Share your small or large ideas to do sustainability research or improve campus operations and you could get funding up to $50,000! Open now to all students, faculty and staff with an idea to advance sustainability on campus. Funded projects include building a solar-powered greenhouse, reducing water use in a teaching lab, finding solutions for invasive insects on campus trees and more!

Apply now!