Humankind’s impact on the climate is clear and irrefutable. Rising average global temperatures are leading to the disruption of the climate and causing effects such as rising sea levels, drought, wildfires, flooding, and increased hurricane and typhoon severity. Climate change threatens the future of humanity and many other species and poses an urgent threat to tangible and intangible cultural heritage worldwide.
As an organization that promotes the preservation of cultural heritage, AIC has a responsibility to advocate and engage in sustainable practices, and that includes working to make the Annual Meeting more sustainable.
We encourage our members to attend the conference in a way that lowers the environmental impact as much as possible by considering the suggestions below. These actions may seem small, but every decision matters.
- Travel better! Carpool in a car if possible, or take a bus or train as air travel produces more emissions. Remember that take-off and landing are the most energy consuming parts of the flight, so choose a direct flight if you can. If you don’t live near a major airport, consider carpooling with colleagues to the closest airport with a direct flight to LA.
- Consider offsetting the ‘cost’ of your travel. Calculate your carbon footprint and offset it with a carbon offsetting company that has been third-party-verified, like Terrapass. Offsetting a round trip ticket from New York to LA costs about $25. Although not perfect – we just can’t plant enough trees to compensate for the amount of carbon we produce, and offsetting has serious social justice implications (see this article for more information), offsetting carbon is currently one of the only steps an individual can take to reduce the impact of air travel.
- Add research or leisure to your conference travel. This will reduce the impact of the carbon emitted by travel and may save money.
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Reusing is always more sustainable than recycling, so bring your own reusable water bottle. Tru Vue, a longtime supporter of AIC, is sponsoring special cotton 50th Anniversary tote bags; pick one up and reuse it for years to come! AIC provides lanyards, so if you need one you may get one at the registration desk or bring your own favorite one. Note that all unused conference supplies are saved for use in the following years. These actions won’t make a huge reduction in emissions, but it keeps the environment on the top of one’s mind.
- Bring your own toiletries. The travel size containers provided by many hotels are wasteful, even if recycled.
- Food choices have an impact. We recognize that food is a deeply personal and cultural choice. Different protein sources have different impacts on the environment (for instance, see this site for more information). The AIC Annual Meeting continues to have a commitment to providing vegetarian/vegan options to those who request them; when selecting menus for the meeting, we favor less greenhouse-gas producing meats and plant-based proteins.
- Watch your water use! There is a water shortage in California so be mindful of your water consumption. Choose to not have your linens laundered during your stay.
- And remember that the most important thing you can do is vote! Your vote is your voice and every one cast matters when it comes to showing concern about climate change and the desire for our society to take action.
These tips were developed by Sustainability Committee members Amy Christ and Roxane Sperber, and AIC Vice President/Program Chair Corina Rogge.