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Conference planners are obselete

ISTE Conference planner

 

I just thought I’d share some numbers around just the conference planner, which I’m picking on because it is easy to quantify, but believe me there are plenty of other examples of waste here at ISTE. The ISTE conference planner is about 110 pieces of paper. Each book is about 30 cm long by 20 cm wide. There are about 13,000 people at ISTE. Each of them received a planner.

If you lined up the pages from the conference planners end on end, they would be about 429km long, about the distance from Cleveland to Philadelphia.

If all of the conference planners were put on a scale, they would weigh just over 6 metric tonnes (6000kg).

15 adult trees were chopped down to make all of the conference planners for this conference.

 

ISTE appNow let’s compare these numbers to the fairly good conference planner App that ISTE released.

0 trees cut down.

The weight of the apps themselves is 0.

You can’t line up apps.

You do need everyone to have a mobile electronic device of some sort, which raises other environmental questions, but at least those devices have multiple uses, and can replace many, many other paper resources.

The conference planner app includes my own personal schedule, it is searchable, it automatically updates itself every time I open it up. I don’t have to go through the conference planner app page by page to find information. It tells me what sessions are coming up. None of these functions is possible with the paper version of the conference planner.

Let’s try a different system for next year. Why don’t we use an opt-in system for the conference planners?

How many people would have turned down the conference planner if they had the choice? 

 

 

 

Let’s run a greener ISTE conference

Recycle
(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?