First Waste Audit of the International Zebrafish Society

Dear Zebrafish Researchers and colleagues,

In recent days, reports have confirmed that we will not be able to maintain the temperature at the 1.5°C limit, indicating an uncertain future for life as we know it. Our continued commitment not only to environmental sustainability but also to raising awareness about climate-friendly choices, has led us to question how our own facilities are run. Thus we, the Environmental Sustainability Committee of the IZFS, have developed a waste audit. With the collected information, we hope to obtain a detailed overview of our energy, plastic and water usage as well as recycling efforts to create a database of sustainable solutions used by members of our zebrafish community.

Please forward this survey to all your colleagues and encourage them to participate. Try to be detailed and honest, so we can obtain the most accurate information and draw the correct conclusions. After this audit is complete, we will generate a publicly available report summarizing the sustainable solutions and, based on the response of the zebrafish community, have more detailed follow-up questions in the future.

We would be extremely grateful if you and your colleagues could take a few minutes out of your busy schedules to help make our labs more sustainable for a brighter future in our labs and on our planet.

Part I: Sustainability Audit – Survey

The following audit will be anonymous and is directed to all members of the lab, including but not limited to students, technicians, PostDocs and PIs. We ask that all members of the lab fill out the survey to obtain a detailed understanding of the lab operation with respect to sustainability. The survey should take less than 10 minutes, while the actual audit part is optional and requires a brief but rewarding hands-on project in the lab. Please check that you know the size of your facility (water volume), which is an important measure for our audit.

You can find the survey here:

Part II: Individual Waste Audit

This part is optional for the survey as it requires a hands-on approach to obtain an actual overview of your waste production in the laboratory. However, we encourage you to run this small experiment to get an overview of waste in your lab and supply us with the most detailed waste estimates.

We have done this ourselves and it is an eye-opening test that requires little time and will assist you and your colleagues to focus more on sustainability in your own lab. As this is likely a team effort, we ask that only one person fills out this form at the end of your labs waste audit.

If you would like to perform a waste audit in your lab at some other time, feel free to use our to-do list as a template.

For the water waste audit, you just need to record the amount of water which enters your facility and how much is disposed. Also note your water being produced by reverse osmosis, as a large amount of water is wasted by these systems.

Enter the liter values in this data sheet and find out how much water is being used each week, year and by each individual. Please also send the waste audit directly to

You can find the Water Waste Audit template here: Water Audit file here

For the actual waste audit, you can also use our excel sheet template. Make sure that your garbage bins are emptied Monday morning (and will not be emptied until Friday at the end of the Audit). Try to include as many people as possible and their lab space + offices and the lunch room. Here is what you need and what you need to do:

Your waste collection of one week for the lab, fish room (and maybe offices)   

  • Sorting area (A large cleanable surface - the lab floor is often best)
  • Lab coats and (thick) gloves
  • A scale
  • Trash bags and bins
  • Labels
  • Audit List (See excel sheet) and pens
  • Camera/Phone
  • Cleaning materials

Also be careful if your trash includes sharp materials or hazardous materials. Please do not sort those but include them in the list as “non-sortable or hazardous materials”, however if applicable still determine the weight of the waste. If possible, also differentiate between waste from the lab, the fish room (and/or nursery) as well as offices.

At the end of your audit week, collect all the garbage and sort it by location and material. Sometimes you can go into more detail, e.g. sort out tips, petri dishes, tubes etc. Enter your measurements (in kg) into the excel sheet to find out the amount of waste your lab is producing. Please also send your waste audit directly to

You can find the Waste Audit template here: Garbage audit file here

If you want, take pictures of your results and post them with the hashtag #ZebrafishWasteAudit (and link @IZFSenvironment) on Twitter or keep them as a reminder of where you can start reducing waste production.

Thank you for your participation and for doing your part to reduce our carbon footprint!

the Environmental Sustainability Committee of the International Zebrafish Society

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