During My Green Lab’s 2021 Virtual Summit, we were proud to present our first annual “Out of the Box” Medal to Allen Doyle, Safety and Sustainability Specialist at 3Flow and former Green Laboratories and Green Procurement Program Manager at UC Davis.
The “Out of the Box” Medal was inspired by My Green Lab’s visionary and courageous founder, Allison Paradise. Allison, CEO James Connelly, and the My Green Lab team and board spent the past few months thinking about this award and discussing how to best capture the power and essence of the philosophy behind My Green Lab that resonates and influences so many people around the world in such a powerful way. The “Out of the Box” Medal captures the spirit of innovation, a willingness to challenge convention to make better choices for the environment and for the people that underpin our work. Allen Doyle is an original and courageous thinker who is willing to break the mold, push boundaries, defy convention, and in the process redefine an industry, and his work has inspired many to make better choices for the environment, using the power of community to create lasting change.
“In the words of Margaret Mead, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.’ Allen's leadership has sparked a movement that now has a global impact, with over 500 green labs, inspired and certified by My Green Lab. Allen’s leadership shows how a courageous leader thinking out of the box can change the world,” says My Green Lab CEO James Connelly.
To announce the “Out of the Box” medal at the end of our 2021 Summit, Allison shared her experience working with and being continually inspired by Allen. She noted that to get out of a box, you have to be aware that you’re in a box in the first place. Only then can you break the limiting habits and routines that created the box you’re in. In this process, it’s helpful to have someone outside who can inspire us to question our situation, to see things differently. This is what My Green Lab does for scientists, providing an alternative vision for what sustainable science can look like. Allen Doyle has spent his career recognizing the ‘science as usual’ box and utilizing creativity, innovation, and community to see things differently.
“Allen has touched and influenced everything in the green labs movement since the beginning. He’s not just a free thinker, he's a free thinker who gives his thoughts freely. Allen is the person who has inspired all of us to get out of our ‘science as usual’ box. He has also inspired us to get out of the ‘this idea is mine’ box. Being out of this box and the free flow sharing of ideas is what makes this community so powerful. And that started with Allen,” said Allison.
Allen’s unique perspective allowed him to create and inspire many green lab programs, including a variety that My Green Lab utilizes today. He started one of the first green lab programs in the world at UC Santa Barbara called LabRATS, not only developing the program but taking the time to mentor many on how to work through successes and challenges together. Allen also helped My Green Lab develop the CEEL, and he and colleague Kathy Ramiriz-Aguilar developed the Freezer Challenge.
“I don’t sing or play an instrument; yet I’m blessed to have green labs practices and conservation ideas as my music. It’s great to “jam” with other practitioners, sharing each other’s rhythms and riffs. Having us each focus on particular issues means we advance as a field. Do one thing really well, then share it so it becomes the norm. That’s the power of community,” says Allen.
Allen’s remarks during the Summit crystallized the many reasons he was this year’s award recipient. Focusing on “Attitude and Gratitude,” he spoke to Summit participants about the lessons he’s learned using his scientific training to understand people and technology and the gratitude he has felt along the way.
“We are interdependent in so many ways, and we have to count on each other. That’s why I’ve always been delighted to share ideas. I believe in empowerment and the idea of giving people the abilities, tools, and information they need to go out and succeed in conserving,” continues Allen.
For those who are new to green labs, Allen notes that one should keep thinking out of the box with their own colleagues and use technologies and learned skills to solve problems and build coalitions. He believes in understanding his own biases and blind spots, then working to understand and consider others’. He also learns from colleagues’ disciplines, and knows that people want to relate, that each of our stories, values, and families are important in creating work that matters.
“After all the time Allen spent working in labs, he had somehow not fallen into the habit of being on autopilot; he still saw the lab. He was able to identify opportunities for energy reduction in lab equipment, he was able to see opportunities to reduce water and waste and opportunities to introduce green chemistry because he was so aware,” continues Allison. “He got out of that ‘science as usual’ box, and he inspired a generation of scientists to want to do the same.”