aseh sustainability/green practices guidelines
Approved by ASEH Executive Committee, February 28, 2009
The American Society for Environmental History plans to continue holding annual conferences for the foreseeable future. As President Nancy Langston noted in her newsletter column in 2007, it is important to meet in person – and our conferences provide the opportunity for interaction and reflection that would not happen otherwise. “We need the warmth, stimulation, and engagement we only get in the presence of another person,” Nancy wrote. “Getting to know new places is also an important part of ASEH's conferences. Instead of holding meetings in the same several cities year after year, we move across the country to new sites. This does entail travel, but it also helps us learn about places in ways that words alone cannot replace” (ASEH News Winter 2007).
At the same time, we recognize that our annual conferences, workshops, and other activities have a significant impact on the environment. We are committed to minimizing the effects of travel and our consumption of energy, paper, and water. We are also committed to choosing conference sites and services that contribute to a sustainable food system and pay living wages. Below is a summary of our practices, along with suggestions.
ASEH offers information on carbon offsets on its website, and we posted a poll on the topic during the winter of 2009, in an attempt to gather information and increase awareness. We encourage our Site Selection Committee to consider the impact of travel when choosing a location for our annual conference. Locating conferences near major airport hubs could be one way to reduce fuel consumption, for instance, while helping international members who travel long distances to our meetings. Locating meetings near high concentrations of members also could reduce our carbon footprint. When possible, we encourage our conference attendees to use public transportation.
When possible, ASEH contracts with hotels located near public transportation systems. We also ask about green certification, which typically indicates reduction of energy and water consumption. We ask about recycling policies, notifying hotels that they must provide appropriate receptacles. If the hotel does not recycle, our members transport the waste to a local recycling center. We request locally grown food and recycle the waste generated on our field trips. We verify that the employees of the hotel are paid a living wage and receive health care benefits.
Paper and Other Materials
ASEH's newsletter became electronic in 2007, and we no longer mail conference programs to all members. When possible, ASEH uses recycled paper in its conference materials, and we encourage our exhibitors to do the same. We started recycling our conference badges in 2008 and avoid the use of vinyl.