(Image credit: auntiep)

Last year at ISTE, I saw a lot of waste, and I feel like we should be able to run a greener conference this year. Here are some recommendations.

First, take advantage of the watering stations.  If you are planning on attending ISTE, bring a water bottle (or two). Make sure to fill up your water bottle rather than using the disposable paper cups, or even worse, plastic water bottles. You need to be hydrated, but you don’t need to be producing extra waste. In fact, you could bring your own utensils and a plate as well, and rinse these off in the bathrooms so that you don’t have to throw away paper or plastic plates.

Next, participants, please avoid vendor hand-outs. You aren’t going to look at them. Use your electronic device, and take pictures, or take notes instead. Take the time to get the contact information on the vendors whose products you are really interested in exploring further, and say no thanks to their brochures. Vendors, please learn about QR codes. Provide short urls to resources which are deep-linked if you must, but don’t be fooled into thinking that your little pieces of paper are useful; they aren’t.

ISTE organizers don’t give every participant a copy of the program guide to look at.  Post maps at strategic places within the venue itself, and your already out-of-date schedule, is up already in electronic form on the ISTE conference website.  This is a technology conference, use the technology effectively! Demonstrate best practices.  There were hundreds of laptops with internet connections set up all over the place; these could have been better utilized. Again, nearly every participant will have a portable electronic device with them. Instead of your newspaper, use a blog on the website with an RSS feed.

Everyone at the conference should put their devices to sleep when not in use. The power output at ISTE will be enormous, and given that in the United States some of this power comes from coal, it behoves those of us involved to be aware of our power use. The ISTE laptops, while useful, should go to sleep, with instructions beside each one available so that people know they can wake them up from hibernation mode and use them. The LCD projectors that nearly every vendor feels like they need to use are expensive in terms of power use. Vendors, your products aren’t more likely to sell because you have a flashy presentation, they  will sell if they are useful.

What are some other things we can do to run a greener conference?