The local hosts and NASBR are aware of the overall environmental impact of bringing people together for our annual conference. We would like to encourage our conference attendees to minimize their environmental impact by bringing their own re-usable coffee travel mugs and water bottles, name tag holders, and bags to hold conference materials. We have tried to minimize the swag we are producing to avoid consuming items that people don't want, and will ensure minimal use of disposable items during the meeting itself.
Further, in an effort to reduce emissions (on average, a 1000-mile round-trip flight generates between 800-1200 lbs of CO2), we ask meeting participants to consider measures to offset the climate impacts of traveling to our meeting. We encourage either personal actions to reduce emissions or purchasing a carbon offset.
Personal Actions to Offset Emissions
There are a variety of actions to offset (or lower) one's own carbon emissions. Listed below are just a few examples.
Offset your flight: Check your airline web page before purchasing your ticket. Most offer a chance to offset the emissions for a nominal fee.
Change light bulbs: Replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or light emitting diodes (LEDs) at your home or the homes of your friends or family is a simple way to reduce energy use and carbon. Replacing one 100-W incandescent bulb with a 20-W CFL will reduce approximately 330 lbs of CO2 in three years of use (assuming average national statistics for electricity generation and 3 hours usage per day). So to offset the ~1700 lbs of CO2 associated with a 2000-mile round-trip flight, one would need to replace six light bulbs. More information.
Sign up for green power: Ask your local home energy provider if you can get part or all of your electricity from renewable sources (e.g., wind or solar). The additional cost is usually quite modest. More information.
Power off computers: Use power management software on your home and work computers to reduce energy use. A desktop computer left on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week can produce more than 1000 lbs of CO2 in a year. More information.
Drive less: Transportation is one of the largest contributors to our personal carbon footprint, so walk, bike, ride, or use public transport to work, to the shops, and to friends whenever possible. Each gallon of gas we use accounts for ~20lbs of CO2.
Think before you buy: While the motto, "reduce, reuse, and recycle" is well known, many people place their greatest emphasis on the idea of recycling. Reducing and reusing means thinking carefully before purchasing something and asking the questions, "Do I really need this?" The energy required to make products (like a car or television) is an environmental cost that consumers often neglect to consider.
Food choices: The carbon emissions associated with growing and transporting our food is significant. Eating more fresh, local, and minimally processed food is good for our health, and creates fewer carbon emissions. Consider shopping at farmer's markets, buying direct from local farms (i.e., community-supported agriculture), and eating less meat and animal products in favor of foods that require less energy to produce.
Purchasing Carbon Offsets
A variety of organizations will sell you carbon offsets to compensate for your travel-related emissions, but the obvious question is, "What are you getting for your money?" Because offsets are an emerging field and not yet well regulated, one should choose organizations wisely to ensure the purchase really will reduce emissions. This paper by Tufts University provides valuable information on using carbon offsets and lists highly-ranked organizations.