ITEP has long been working towards making its events more sustainable and planet-friendly, in order to be good ancestors and keep the next seven generations in mind. Because NTICC is a virtual event this year, we estimate that a total of 153.4 metric tonnes of CO2e will be avoided (which is equivalent to not driving 380,645 miles)! We are also still striving to provide tips to reducing your carbon footprint. For more information on carbon neutrality, reducing your carbon footprint, and the avoided emissions calculation, attend the session at NTICC on carbon neutrality.
What is a Carbon Footprint and why does it matter?
The term carbon footprint refers to the total amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused directly or indirectly by an individual, event, organization, or product. In short, our consumption of fossil fuels and everyday actions contribute to global greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere that lead to climate change.
It matters because our fragile ecosystems are dependent on a stable planet that flourishes on healthy biodiversity and less on extractive fossil fuels. Thus far, climate change has disrupted biodiversity in many ways all over the globe, including Indigenous lifeways. However, we can still collectively work towards reducing our own carbon footprints and relearning Traditional Ecological Knowledges to help heal our planet.
What is Carbon Neutrality?
Carbon neutrality means that there is no net release of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. It would be misleading to say that any event, organization, or community could truly be 100% carbon neutral, since accounting for 100% of the emissions is like going down a prohibitively long and dark rabbit hole. However, we can aim to reduce our collective emissions, and account for as great a percentage of the emissions we are responsible for as possible. For NTICC, we were accounting for emissions associated with travel, lodging, and the use of the conference center. As a virtual conference, we used assumptions based on those parameters to calculate our avoided emissions. The avoided emissions by holding a virtual conference came to a total of 153.4 metric tonnes of CO2e, or .5 metric tonnes of CO2e per person. For more information on these calculations, attend the session at NTICC on carbon neutrality!
We anticipate holding in-person conferences in the future. Below are some tips on how to reduce your carbon emissions while traveling to and attending NTICC in the future. Many of these same tips can be applied to time spent working from home or other remote locations. For an opportunity to share ideas on other ways to reduce your carbon footprint, attend the session at NTICC on carbon neutrality!
Bring your own name tag lanyard
Travel with a reusable mug, water bottle, and utensils (including straw), and refuse to use disposables
Choose to use the App rather than the paper program
Recycle whenever possible
If printing, use recycled paper
Bring your own toiletries and soap, and do not use the hotel’s
Take photos rather than hard-copies of printed materials
Travel with someone to share travel modes (carpooling, airplanepooling, etc.)
Walk rather than drive, whenever possible
Fly non-stop to avoid greater emissions produced during takeoffs and landings
If renting a car, opt for the most fuel efficient vehicle
Avoid flying to the event: take a train, public transit, or drive with others
Turn off AC/heat and all lights in room when you are not there
When in the room, set AC for 70 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer
Request “no cleaning” until you check out
Take the stairs rather than the elevator
Eat lower on the food chain: choose vegetarian, vegan, and local meals
Look towards your Indigenous food systems as a main source for nutrients
Avoid food waste by not ordering more than you can eat; put leftovers in a reusable to-go container (bring the container from home!)
Once you have reduced your carbon footprint as much as possible, the next step is to purchase carbon offsets for that which you can’t reduce. But what is carbon offsetting and how does it work? Read below!
What is Carbon Offsetting?
Emissions that can’t be reduced (such as those from travel, lodging, and the conference center) can be offset. Carbon (or emissions) offsets are like a form of trade: a purchase is made to help fund an action or a project that sequesters an equivalent amount of carbon to that which was emitted.
The following is a list of links to organizations that provide a range of options for supporting carbon sequestration projects or purchasing actual offset credits:
ITEP strives to walk our talk! The following is a list of sustainability actions that we take at all of our conferences and internal operations. If you have further suggestions for improving our sustainability as a program we would love to hear your comments by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Waivers are not printed for ancillary activities (such as the field trips)
Surveys, handouts, and registration are completed with a paperless system
Mobile app reduces the number of printed programs
Menu options for meals and breaks are low-carbon
Food waste is reduced through working closely with banquet departments/event facilities
General NAU/ITEP banners, flags, and table covers are used to reduce printing of posters or signage for public areas, and digital signage boards are used to further reduce printing of posters or signage in breakout areas
Digitally branded opportunities are provided so that sponsors can reduce printing and the use of flyers or signs in the ballroom
Digital receipts (instead of paper ones) are used for onsite payments
A designated staff member works with implementing sustainability programs and policies.
Recyclable materials are used for name badges, signage, and printing materials for the onsite office, whenever possible
Sponsors and exhibitors are encouraged to use sustainability practices and waste reduction
The impact from promotional giveaways is reduced whenever possible
We communicate with the event facility to reduce the use of disposable or single use utensils and service ware
We do not use Styrofoam materials