Holding a face-to-face meeting, where most attendees will travel by air, brings with it many environmental impacts. The energy expended to bring hundreds of people to a single location is significant, and of course with that energy expenditure comes emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, as well as pollutants of other kinds. And the environmental impacts of running a conference hotel or convention center are also very significant. However, due to the historic nature of the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, face-to-face meetings enable unique and irreplaceable personal dynamics that cannot be provided by video teleconferences, webinars, etc.
Steps We're Taking
Here are some of aspects of the conference that strive to make it a green meeting.
- Paperless communications. To date, conference brochures are provided in electronic format only, with a small print run dedicated to producing materials for funders. Our registration process will be web-based and correspondence with registrants will occur via e-mail.
- Avoiding "throw-away" conference kits. All conferences typically provide attendees with a kit that often includes a bag, pens, and other trinkets. As we continue to finalize conference logistics, we are striving to provide a minimal kits that does not include items that attendees will likely throw away following the conference.
- Use of recycled materials. Whenever we do produce paper materials, they are printed on stock made from recycled fibers.
- Minimizing food/beverage disposables. By providing water bottles as part of our conference kits, we encourage the use of non-disposable beverage containers at the conference.
- Local food producers. Employing local and organic restaurants and food and beverage service providers ensures that food consumed by attendees has been grown and prepared locally, is healthier, and has used less fuel to travel to its destination.
- Water/energy conservation (towel and linen re-use). Most hotels now have a program in which guests can specify that their towels and bed linens not be changed. All new hotels have low-flush toilets installed; most also have water-saving showerheads and other fixtures, and energy-efficient lighting (e.g., compact fluorescent bulbs).
- Online streaming. Recognizing that some will not be able to attend the conference, or may choose not to, for environmental reasons, we will stream selected sessions on the home page.
Steps You Can Take
Once you've decided to attend, here are some things you can do to reduce the carbon footprint of your travel.
- If you can combine the trip with other necessary travel, do so.
- Don't rent a car. Use the city's public transport system instead.
- Take advantage of hotel in-house recycling programs.
- Take only the handouts you really need. If you are thinking of bringing handouts of your own, consider bringing a single display copy instead, and then provide people with business card-sized notes that give a web address where they can go and download a digital copy. If you bring hard-copy handouts, make sure you take any leftovers home with you.
- If you are presenting a poster, take it (and any accompanying materials) home with you, or at least make sure you recycle them at the hotel, rather than just abandoning them where they will likely be thrown away.
- Reuse your towels and other linens during your hotel stay or at least have them changed less frequently.
- Bring a travel mug and a lightweight set of camping utensils so you don't need to use disposable paper or Styrofoam cups and plastic tableware when you go out for coffee or a snack. Use the container that's part of the attendee conference kit for water or other beverages (it's metal so it won't absorb the flavor of any beverages like plastic bottles often do).
- Share your room with another conference attendee or take advantage of some of the alternative accomodations such as home stays, hostels, or camping. Sharing a hotel room is not only cheaper for you, it is less energy-intensive for the hotel's housekeeping department to manage.
- Turn off the lights in your room when you aren't there.