I am thrilled to be attending and presenting at a (non library!) conference – AASHE, the association of sustainability in higher education. It’s very important that librarians get out and mingle with non librarians to hear what’s happening beyond our own world as well as show other just how diverse, important and relevant libraries are in so many sectors of our world today. My presentation was on a virtual sustainability conference I helped my university run last year – since virtual is greener than traveling (ironically I had to travel to present here on the subject). But I’m thrilled to learn about all the wonderful and inspiring campus initiatives for a more sustainable world: from small to large ideas, from administration to students driven projects, from small to huge universities. there are even a few librarians here and involved!. And the number of students attending – and presenting – is incredible which gives us all hope for future sustainable endeavors - and gives them the chance to network, gain skills and respect.
As most of us do travel and attend conferences, I wanted to post about this conference’s green practices that I wish I could see more of at library events:
First of all, the Denver Convention Center is a very green place to host a conference. There are compost cans everywhere next to the trash and recycling bins. Our box lunches, including the little containers, the utensils and the box itself are all compostable. The food is healthier, (much of it local & fair trade) than usually get at events and there are way more vegetarian/vegan meals than non (majority of attendees are veggie folks). There are NO water bottles – everyone has their own reusable bottle and there are filling stations everywhere. Everyone has their own coffee mugs too. The few cups available are compostable. They parter with contractors who work hard at keeping room temps, energy output and lights set in most sustainable way as well as more sustainable measures from supply chain to offsite material usage.
AASHE presenters offer NO handouts… yup people here take their own notes (on paper or computer) and I never heard one complaint about no handouts. Everything will be online to access so attendees can choose to print later if they wish. Attendees can purchase carbon offsets if they want. There are great public transportation options here but also arranged are ride share and zimride. Hotel choices were those with more sustainable practices. Dine-arounds are at local green option places. Even the signage was done to be reused next time.
My only complaint is the lack of virtual options. I love in person networking too but maybe every other year in person, and host a much greener virtual option in between years to better role model what they are promoting!
(hmm, maybe ALA could do their midwinter conference as virtual to be green and save money and allow for more participation by all!)