What to do with packages?

Online shopping has become really popular, but every time you order something online you don’t just get the thing you ordered, you get it in a package, which you most likely will end up just throwing away. Random things like clothes or books aren’t usually very thickly packaged, but when you order science products like enzymes, master mixes, or dyes there is generally a lot of extra packaging involved. This makes the whole idea of scientist trying to fight for a cleaner environment and against climate change kind of ironic. So here are some tips on what to do with packages in a lab to be more environmentally friendly.
The most space-consuming package is probably a styrofoam cooler.

When ordering Solis BioDyne products you most likely don’t have to deal with them, but if you already have them lying around, then here are some recommendations. 

  • Use it to transport things. If you have many tubes, measuring flasks, or samples that need to be taken from one place to the other and you don’t want to make multiple trips, just place all your things in a cooler, and the problem is solved.
  • Use it as an icebox. If you need to keep your samples cool while experimenting there is nothing better than a styrofoam cooler. Place the ice in the cooler and then your samples in the ice. No need to go buying an expensive bucket or a box or something like that.
  • Use it as a plant pot to add a little green to your office. Just maybe don’t grow plants there that you might want to eat later. Also, it’s great, if you are experimenting on plants and don’t want to waste money on buying pots.

styrofoam boxes_alternative use

  • Use it as a chair or a tiny table. Maybe your chair broke, you have a guest, or just too many people at work at the same time - there is no problem if you have a Styrofoam cooler. If you have time, you can make something extra fancy using these instructions: https://www.impartinggrace.com/2011/05/furnishing-outdoor-room-make-your-own.html.
  • Break it into pieces and use these pieces for example to create a maze of obstacles for your mice. You can also use these pieces if you want to send something fragile and prevent it from breaking.
  • If you want to really get scientific you can melt the styrofoam with acetone and make your own plastic that you can shape in whatever way you like.
  • Or make an air conditioner in case it gets hot in the office.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaC0dlRENk0
The second in size might be a cardboard box. These are certainly easier to recycle, but there are some fun ways to use them as well. 
  • You can always use them to send a package to someone else.
  • Use them for storage. You can use the entire box or cut it apart and put it together in a more creative way.

cardboard box_alternative use

  • Cut them up and use them for example to make a maze of obstacles for your little test subjects. Tiny houses are also an option.
  • Cut them up and use them as drawer dividers or to divide another box into sections.
  • Make your own stationery organizer by again matching the cut-out pieces together.
  • Make a quick gift box, if you have accidentally forgotten a co-worker’s birthday. You might still need something to put into that box though.
Another thing that tends to come with an ordered product is bubble wrap. Sometimes it’s separate, sometimes part of the padded envelope. Either way, there are many things you can do with it. 
  • You can keep it and use it when you want to send something yourself.
  • You can pop bubble wrap to relieve your stress. Have you ever met a person who doesn’t feel more relaxed after popping some bubbles?
  • You can use it to insulate windows in case your lab has old windows that let cold air get in the room. You can also use it to insulate other things by just wrapping the bubble wrap around them. Or if you come to work by car and want to keep your windshield from freezing during winter, just put bubble wrap on the windshield and voilà. 
  • Keep your kids busy. Sometimes you have to take your kids to work and while you are doing your experiments, the kids will be busy popping some bubbles. You can also let them make some art using watercolors, bubble wrap, and a piece of paper.
  • Donate it. Maybe you don’t have anything to do with bubble wrap, but there is certainly someone in your building or maybe a friend who would like to use it.
  • Make yourself a more comfortable chair. You can put bubble wrap under your seat or around your chair handles to have a softer feeling.

  • Make yourself some knee pads. If for some reason you have to spend a lot of your time on your knees in the lab - maybe chase some mice under the tables - you can tape bubble wrap around your knees to prevent your knees from hurting.
  • In the case of a padded envelope, if you open it carefully, you can use it again by putting a new label on it. If you are not careful, you can still use it for knee pads or store easily breakable things without ripping them apart. In other cases, you can remove the bubble wrap from the paper and use them separately. 
The fourth thing that is often used as a package, but can also be used in many other creative ways, is a zip-lock bag.
  • Again, the first thing you can do is reuse it to send something to someone else.
  • You can make cold packs/ ice packs. You can either use just water and use them whenever you need to keep something cool or make them using dish soap or alcohol, which will keep the cold pack from freezing completely and is good to put on if you manage to burn yourself or get bitten. https://www.themakeyourownzone.com/5-ways-to-make-homemade-ice-packs/
  • Keep your phone clean and dry. If you are doing a messy experiment or a very sterile one, but want to use your phone at the same time, put it in a zip-lock bag and touch it all you want. The same goes in case there is a chance that your phone might fall into the water or get wet for some other reason.

  • Use it to store stuff. If you have many tiny samples that you don’t want to get mixed up or disappear, you can put them in a zip-lock bag.
  • Use it as a punched pocket. If you have big enough zip-lock bags you can make holes on the side using a hole punch and use it as a regular punched pocket in a folder.
  • Use it as a wipe-downable page. You can write things on the zip-lock bag and later erase everything you wrote, so it’s like reusable paper. Assuming that whatever you were writing wasn’t important enough to be permanent. 
You may have heard that Solis BioDyne is now using ISCC certified kit-bags that are made from 85% bio-based materials. The zip-lock bags you will be receiving are safe enough to burn, but to make your carbon footprint smaller it’s better to recycle them. Also since our products are stable at room temperature they use up minimal cargo space (no need for giant cooling boxes), keeping the CO2 footprint smaller.
Let us know which recycling tips you had already heard about and are using and which ones came to be a surprise!
P.s. Most images used are from Pinterest and the last one is from from: https://tinhat.co.uk/blog/best-waterproof-phone-cases-cycling