Please join us in welcoming Scott Weitze to the My Green Lab team! With an extensive background in manufacturing and sustainability, Scott recently signed on as Technical Program Director for the ACT Label. Originally from Massachusetts and residing on the island of Alameda in the Bay Area, Scott is a hiking and biking aficionado, can offer a great book recommendation (see below!), and will gladly agree to a friendly game of Boggle.
Learn more about Scott, his interests, and his sustainability journey below!
Please tell us a little bit about yourself & your background.
I was raised in central Massachusetts by my parents, a Dean of Sciences at a local college and a high school AP Biology teacher, with a brother who is also now in the sciences. I went to the beautiful UMass at Amherst during the amazing John Calipari years (you can now reverse engineer how old I am), studied English and history for a while, switched to biochemistry and stayed for my MS in biochemistry, with a cool little project on yeast chromatin regulation. Eventually I made my way to California and an MS in molecular genetics, studying RNA splicing. I can quickly and effectively dissect the very, very, very tiny brains of fruit flies, and yet no one ever calls me a brain surgeon, which seems kind of unfair.
I taught genetics and bioinformatics at UC Berkeley and SF State, and for seventeen years I ran the research and product development lab at Labcon, a company in the Bay Area that manufactures lab consumables made of p*****c. All kidding aside, Labcon did some really interesting and innovative things with manufacturing and sustainability, which is how I first got connected to My Green Lab. I brought hundreds of products through the auditing process for the US, EU, and UK ACT Labels, and got really into the details of the process.
Oh, and my personal and professional life both seem to have evolved into a modern Green Industry Love Story. My wife Hillary owns a Bay Area mechanical engineering firm focused on HVAC, energy efficiency, and sustainability. And now I’m at My Green Lab, working on the ACT Label!
I also used to run Nerd Nite, a monthly live stage and speaker show in Oakland that was exactly what you’d expect from the title.
What is your role at My Green Lab?
I’m the Technical Director for the ACT Program. Over the next several months My Green Lab is working on revisions to the ACT Label so it better reflects both the realities and the possibilities of sustainability in lab products. We’ll be working through a stakeholder consensus process with industry leaders from many different branches of the academic, biotech, and pharma industries to create a revised, rigorous, and improved ACT Label. The ACT Label is already great, and we think it can be even better!
What inspires you to do the kind of work you do?
Well, I live on a flat island that is three to nine feet above sea level, so it’s kind of critical that we fix this whole *gestures wildly at the sky, ocean, and ground* thing.
The thing is, you couldn’t ask for a better group to make real progress on climate and sustainability issues than the people you’ll find in our industry! They’re smart, motivated, believe in the basic fact of climate change, and want to help. It’s also a perfect place to create technical breakthroughs that will be used in other industries. Doing great science and contributing to sustainability are not incompatible! Now we just. need. to. do. it.
What are your personal sustainability goals?
Never buy a plastic garbage bag again. (You are inevitably and somewhat unavoidably given plastic bags sometimes, and you can just save those and use them in the rare cases where they’re helpful.) We cut our water use way back with the California drought, and it’s been fine. Short showers aren’t all that bad. And my town has an excellent and progressive local electricity provider, but we still aggressively turn off the lights and anything else not in immediate use.
I just realized I’ve been in my car two times in the last month, and that wasn’t even a goal. Good job by me!
What are your hobbies outside of work?
So, so stereotypically Northern Californian: I hike. I go to the beach even though it’s cold. I listen to music from bands that broke up fifteen years ago. I eat Mexican food and German pretzels. I ride my bike and drink good beer. (We are a fifteen minute or less bike ride from thirteen breweries.) I split SF Giants season tickets with friends and we watch a lot of baseball and basketball. I am a friendly, competitive, and good* player of many board games, like Wingspan, Patchwork, Hogwarts Battle, Lost Cities, Jaipur, and Seven Wonders Duel. I do some things to help my local government.
*Fine, I am also like 5 wins and 6,527 losses vs. my wife in Boggle. And I am actually pretty good at Boggle!
What are your favorite books / movies?
Bill Bryson books remain adorable. Anthony Doerr is awesome. From many years ago, Mutants by Armand Marie Leroi is something everyone should read. Carter Beats the Devil is a perfect novel. Richard Russo is a great novelist. Bill James made me think about a lot of things in a different way.
I’ll pretend I’m highbrow by noting The Godfather(s) and The Prestige are amazing. Out of Sight and Casablanca, also great. But Wedding Crashers, Elf, and the Bournes are infinitely re-watchable. Do they teach perfectly crafted movies like Back to the Future, My Cousin Vinny, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels in film school? They should.
Ummm, I have watched some things since 2006. The Great was hilarious. So was American Vandal. And we’ve seen every Modern Family like ten times!
Where do you call home?
We live on the delightful island of Alameda, just off the coast of Oakland in San Francisco Bay. Great weather, great beer, great parks, great beaches, great bike trails, great public ferry boats, and just a really great place to live!