Conservators utilize resources whose production, use, and disposal can have cumulative, sometimes irreversible consequences, such as air and water pollution, deforestation, thinning of the ozone layer, unnecessary plastic waste, and the use of non-renewable energy. We must educate ourselves and build awareness of our impact on the environment and one another. Conservation activities are affected by a variety of factors, including limited finances and time, ingrained habits, evolving best practices, new technologies, changing laws, and the inherent uniqueness of each item and collection.
The Sustainability Committee was founded in August 2008 as the Green Task Force (GTF) with the initial mission to evaluate U.S. conservators’ current awareness of sustainable practices in institutions and private businesses. In September 2010, the GTF became the Committee for Sustainable Conservation Practices (CSCP). In July 2013, the CSCP renamed itself the Sustainability Committee (SC) to clarify our objectives, to appeal to a wider audience, and to increase our visibility. The committee aims to promote sustainability as an equal factor in decision-making processes. The committee creates and publishes new research, while highlighting and contributing to work done by our colleagues.
Our charge is as follows:
- To provide resources for AIC members and affiliated professionals regarding sustainable approaches to the preservation of cultural heritage, including conservation, restoration, collections and preventive care. Resources may be provided via electronic media, workshops, publications, and presentations.
- To define research topics and suggest working groups as needed to explore various aspects of sustainability and conservation.
The committee is comprised of eight voting members - one committee chair, six professional members, and one student member. The committee aims to include national and international members with diverse experiences and specialties. The committee seeks to include members of all specialties working in private practice, archives, libraries, and museums.
Sustainable Practices Wiki
This wiki on various subjects related to sustainable conservation, such as information about purchasing decisions, recycling, waste management, and energy use as related to specific materials. Includes: a list of all publications created throughout the history, a summary of presentations given during AIC annual meetings, and a detailed page of referenced and related resources, as well as a list of sources at Works Cited and Further Reading.
AIC Member Survey Report
In October 2008, the Sustainability Committee (formerly the Green Task Force), sent a survey to AIC members in an effort to evaluate their current awareness of this topic. The results of this survey were presented AIC's 37th Annual Meeting in Los Angeles. The presentation explored who responded, their awareness of sustainability, examples of sustainable and unsustainable practices and products, and future work for the committee.
AIC Meeting Presentation
This presentation at AIC's 38th Annual Meeting addresses how conservators add to burgeoning landfills, place stress on waning resources, use toxic products that pollute our environment, and set standards that increase our carbon footprints. It does not tell conservators how to work, instead it begins to provide information so we can make environmentally conscious decisions with the goal of reducing our collective carbon footprint.
How to Get Involved
Contact the committee about presenting at AIC’s annual meeting or partnering with us on a project.
Do you choose solvents because they have minimal toxicological effects?
- Have you found ways to minimize energy use?
- Can your mannequins be reused and retrofitted from one exhibition to another?
- When making a new frame for a painting, is it made from sustainably harvested wood?
- Do you reuse shipping crates? Do you recycle gloves or other lab supplies? What ways have you found to work more sustainably?
We invite proposals that explore sustainability within material specialties, collections care, health and safety, research and technical studies, and working in private practice. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: We do not promote specific companies or materials but may mention them when exploring information relevant to the field of conservation.