Re-using ‘retired’ lab coats

Lab-coat-pic-1As announced in Nebraska Medicine Now and  UNMC Today, lab coats with the old brand will be retired Aug. 15. Some of you already have new coats and others will be getting them soon.

That led to the question: what can we do with the old one besides sending it to the landfill?

LiveGreen set out to find a sustainable option, ideally either recycling or upcycling them into something else.

Unfortunately it’s hard to recycle a fabric that is a blend (65% polyester/35% cotton) especially with the cotton on the lesser side.  This blend helps lab coats stand the test of time though, so they should be able to be reused, right?

I looked into some options and found that they could be used on our own medical service trips and some local schools could use them as well.  They often don’t have the budget for heavy coats and buy plastic aprons that are thrown away.  If we can get coats to them, it’s a win-win-win!

Turns out it’s not quite that simple.  UNMC and Nebraska Medicine want to protect your identity as well as their credibility—we can’t have people running around in lab coats pretending to work here or worse yet, pretending to be you.

So, back to the question at hand, what can we do with old coats?  It turns out it doesn’t take too much effort to remove the branded patch and, if applicable, the embroidery with your name and department.  This is especially true if you only remove enough so that words aren’t legible.

If you would like to see your old lab coat donated to a worthy cause, you can remove your name, department, and patch and then:

  • Contact Sara Pirtle to donate them to the medical service trips.
  • Drop them off at the UNMC Bookstore. They also use them to send to groups on campus to try on (so they don’t have to go to the bookstore, particularly good for people out of town).  If you have large quantities call them to schedule pickup.
  • Drop them off at The Company Store, located on the first level of Clarkson Tower near the entrance to Clarkson Cafe.
  • Contact LiveGreen to schedule a pickup.

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