“Greener” Conference Travel Tips

A collection of tips from posts from the past:

  • Bring your own water bottle  – You can fly with it – go through security with it empty and fill up on the other side! Many airports refill stations.
  • Bring your own coffee mug  –  Many places offers discounts for BYOM
  • Bring your own reusable utensils – like these To-go ware options … and toss in a cloth napkin too.
  • Bring a solar panel to rechargehere is the one I have.
  • Bring your own snacks on the plane or rail or car .. and for hotel room: snack mix, fruit, granola bars, nuts, instant oatmeal, popcorn (Usually its cheaper, better and healthier!)
  • Find options other than flying – can you carpool, train, bus  … bike? take a boat? 🙂
  • Try public transportation  – from the airport, and around town.
  • When eating out try for local, sustainable, eco-friendly places  – often times someone attending the conference creates a list if you look around for it  – and remember you can always ask a place about their policies!
  • Limit your swag and picking up promotional materials or handouts that will just be tossed. Can you access the handouts online? Do you really need extra plastic swag?  Also note, if you are flying, carrying all that material back home uses energy which really does add up if everyone were to bring back a few extra pounds.
  • Take a break and meditate
  • Join the Sustainability Round Table of ALA (SustainRT) events! 

Greening ALA conferences…

Please fill out this 3 question survey about greening ALA:

Go to form or fill out below:  (This survey idea came from the Librarians for Sustainability webinar series created by M. Charney, B FilarWilliams and  B Smith, hoping the new TFOE chairs and group would use to promote better sustainable practices at future ALA conferences.)

Also be sure to think about your personal green habits when conferencing. Here is a post I did about greening an ala conference in the past, a post about how green the AASHE conference was,  though its probably too late to book a flight – a post about green flying tips, and a greening conferences website recommended by Rebekkah Smith Aldrich (thx!)

No Handouts?

Have you been reading the comments and blogs posts in the past couple weeks, since Nicole Engard on her blog What I Learned Today posted about not giving out handouts at her presentations in order to be green? It is something worth considering. Tons of paper is wasted from large conferences (even with much of it being supposedly recycled). Most conferences now offer to host your presentations online (and most presenters also plan to post their information online) and these can be download at or following the conference. Also, many people take notes at conference presentations directly on their laptop or mobile devices.

Some people argue they need handouts to follow and understand the presentation, that it is better for their learning style. What to do? Someone commented on Nicole’s blog about shredding wasted handouts and using them for composting. Several people have commented that they do the one sheet handout – one page only with basic information but direct people to go online to find the bulk of the content. I have been using this method for a while, to cut back wasted paper yet still please those who want something in their hands. I also have taken many classes online instead of in person at the conference physical location (which cuts back on way more than saving paper!) When I worked in map libraries we took the old, discarded maps, cut up as scratch paper (maps also makes good wrapping paper for gifts) so we were reusing before recycling. The SLA Conference (begins this weekend in Seattle) will be offering handouts only online. It will be good too to see how people attending like this idea or not.

Something I learned at a leadership institute I attended a few years ago: change takes time and you can’t please everyone, but sometimes you have a be a pioneer and risk it anyway.

IMHO, the better a presenter facilitates learning with interactive, audience participation, multifaceted sessions, the more everyone seems to learn (by doing instead of being told).

Environmental Practices at Conferences

A Task Force on the Environment of the Social Responsibilities Round Table (TFOE-SRRT) asked conference goers to bring their favorite traveling mugs & water bottles to Midwinter this year. Think about all the water and coffee/tea being used by the over 10,000 librarians over the course of several days and many sessions. I hope to hear that many people participated!!!

For more info on this group visit the TFOE-SRRT website.

For information on running more green meetings check out BlueGreen Meetings.