We have pledged to mitigate the carbon footprint of our attendees through a combined use of an energy efficient venue, elimination of single use plastics and styrofoam, employing compostable and recyclable products, decreasing the use of paper and purchasing carbon offsets, as well as making the conference available virtually.
OUR BLUE-GREEN INITIATIVES
Single-use items, such as plastics (straws, cutlery, bags) and Styrofoam, will not be used at SMM2022. We will be using washable, recycled, recyclable, and compostable materials in all the catering! Our conference merchandise is made from organic and recycled materials whenever possible. We are also limiting our printed materials by going digital, and using only eco-friendly options when we do have to print something. Our honeycomb eco-boards are the perfect way to have printed signage in a sustainable way!
OUR VENUES MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE!
The Palm Beach County Convention Center and the Hilton West Palm Beach are venues committed to improving sustainability for their events. Catering is sourced from sustainable and organic sources whenever possible and they use only washable cutlery for their events. These venues have been constructed to high environmental standards and they strive to reduce their impact by using energy efficient lighting, air handling, and audio-visual, with automation to reduce energy use overall. In addition, the Convention Center reduces waste by having recycling facilities and donating left over foods to the local food bank. It is centrally located, with numerous restaurants and coffee shops within walking distance so no driving is needed.
WE'RE GOING RED MEAT FREE!
Red meat is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions through the clearcutting of rainforests and the methane emissions from cows. Join us in going red meat free all week and reduce your personal carbon footprint! Palm Beach offers a variety of alternatives, including numerous vegan and vegetarian options.
A DIFFERENT TYPE OF POSTER SESSION
Large poster sessions, like we have at SMM conferences, are a huge contributor to waste as hundreds of posters are printed, using energy and inks, and then disposed of after the session. A hybrid conference means our posters will be “virtual” as well so they can be viewed online. For participants attending in person, we have partnered with a local printer who uses environmentally friendly inks and recycled paper. They can print your poster, to be collected at Registration. Details to follow!
CARBON OFFSETTING PROGRAM
WHAT IS IT?
Climate change is the biggest challenge Humanity will face over the next century. Despite the magnitude and increasing impacts of climate change on ecosystems, most members of the scientific community have not significantly changed their behavior to reduce their carbon emissions. If we don’t make a change, who will? Scientific conferences can contribute important carbon emissions, and some research suggests that 2.4 metric tonnes of carbon are produced on average per participant at a single international conference. At this rate, the emissions for WMMC’19 in Barcelona were approximately 6,480 metric tonnes, or the same amount produced by 135 American families over an entire year. We want to be able to get together for conferences to share ideas and meet, but we critically need to make efforts to limit our environmental impact.
Carbon offsetting programs are an opportunity for our community to address this issue, though their impact is unknown (and challenging to assess). Although the public and private sectors have offsetting their carbon emissions for decades, offsetting has only recently become increasingly popular for scientific conferences as a means to increase the sustainability of these events. Offsetting programs can include a variety of activities that directly contribute to the sequestration of carbon, through the planting of trees or the restoration of mangroves, or by improving sustainability in vulnerable communities.
WHAT DO WE WANT TO DO?
For the first time in the history of our Biennial Conference, we propose to initiate a carbon offsetting program. Although the conference is hybrid, and by nature will also reduce our carbon footprint (but also be more inclusive!), we propose attendees to offset their personal carbon use. There are several carbon calculators available to determine how much carbon your personal travel will use (e.g., www.carbonfootprintcalculator.com, www.nature.org). Our calculations are based on the Terrapass carbon offset calculator, a widely used calculator especially in the travel and aviation industry. You can buy back the carbon cost of your flight and accommodation!
100% of funds contributed in this offsetting program will be donated to the Miami Waterkeeper, a local non-profit organization, who will put the money towards local conservation and outreach activities in Biscayne Bay, a subtropical estuary located in the Miami area. Seagrass meadows are critical for the survival of marine life, including the Florida manatee, and a major carbon sink. In southern Florida, seagrass coverage is rapidly declining due to anthropogenic impacts, including nutrient pollution, dredging, recreational boating, and other human activities. Our goal is to directly use the offsetting for a local conservation initiative that should generate interest from our attendees.