If you’re nothing like me, you’re already packing for BlogHer10, or at least making a list of things to remember to bring. (I always toss everything into my suitcase the night before and pray.) I’m here to remind you to bring a few items that can make your trip a little greener. Yes, it’s true that BlogHer has done a lot of work to ensure the conference is as eco-friendly as possible. (Read all about BlogHer10′s Green Initiatives.) But providing for the needs of 2,000 attendees is a monumental task, and the organizers can’t do it all. That’s where personal responsibility comes in.
Here are a few of my suggestions. Let me know what you would add to the list.
1) Plastic name badge holder and lanyard from last year’s conference
BlogHer will provide new plastic badge holders and lanyards at this conference. But if you still have your badge holder and lanyard from last year or from another event, why not use those instead and save some plastic?
2) Travel Mug
Water bottles are great — and if you forget yours, there will be one in your swag bag — but a travel mug is eminently versatile. At the airport, I carry it through security empty and then fill up at a water fountain on the other side.
Yes, it’s fine to bring water on the plane if you get it from within the secure area of the airport. And a mug is great for not only water but coffee, tea, or other beverages. I always use my mug on the plane instead of a plastic cup.
At BlogHer this year, water stations will be provided throughout the hotel and in every conference room for filling up your bottle or mug. But don’t stop with water. At BlogHer09 last year, coffee was provided by Starbucks in paper cups. Since I had my travel mug with me, I avoided coffee cup waste. Just remember to bring it down with you from your room!
3) Reusable utensils
I carry a little set of reusable utensils in my purse or backpack wherever I go to avoid disposables. My kit includes knife, fork, spoon, chopsticks, and even glass drinking straws. I will use them while traveling and during the conference.
This year at BlogHer, the Hilton will provide compostable utensils made from corn. Last year, BlogHer provided durable metal utensils. But this year, the conference is hosting twice as many women, so silverware is not feasible. Compostables are better than non-biodegradable plastic, but each of us can do our part to eliminate this kind of waste as well by bringing our own to reuse.
And you don’t need a fancy utensil wrapper like mine (which I ordered from a fantastic Etsy seller). Check out Micaela Preston’s super easy steps for creating your own utensil wrap in five minutes. No sewing required. By the way, Micaela will be on the Mega Mindful Monetization session at BlogHer. Don’t miss it!
4) Airplane snacks
Airplane food is expensive and full of chemicals and packaging waste. We can avoid it by bringing our own yummy snacks in reusable containers. It just takes a little pre-planning. And whatever container you bring can be reused for restaurant leftovers while out of town.
Most of us have headphones with us all the time anyway. But make sure yours are accessible during your flight so you’re not tempted to buy new plastic ones on the plane. I’m so glad I didn’t have to miss out on every brilliant line from Bounty Hunter during my last flight.
6) Travel Pillow
Do you like to have a pillow on the plane? If so, don’t forget to bring yours!
Why is it green? Because buying a new one in the airport when you forget your own is not green. (I used to have a drawer full of inflatable plastic travel pillows that I used once and then forgot.) And asking for a pillow on the plane is not green either. Airline travel pillows are trashed at the end of each flight, for sanitary reasons, and they come sealed up in plastic packaging.
7) Reused plastic zip-top bag
The only time I ever use a plastic baggie is for carrying liquids and gels in my carry-on luggage when flying. But I reuse the same TSA regulation baggie over and over again. Keep it in your suit case when not in use so you’ll remember it for next time.
8) Personal care products in reusable containers.
Instead of buying travel size shampoo, conditioner, lotion, toothpaste, etc. or taking the free products provided by the hotel, fill up your own reusable containers (3.4 ounce or smaller if flying) at home and avoid all the extra packaging waste from travel sizes.
I also use an old prescription bottle for toothpaste instead of buying the travel size tube.
It might be tempting to take the hotel’s free offerings. But remember that refilling from your big shampoo bottle at home generates a lot less plastic packaging waste than using those cute little travel size bottles. The planet would prefer that you politely decline them.
And if you really want to eliminate plastic packaging, consider doing without liquid personal care products in the first place. Solid shampoo bars work as well as liquid shampoo and contain no plastic packaging.
9) Your camera for collecting business cards
Instead of bringing home mountains of paper business cards, consider photographing them with your camera phone and using a program like Evernote to store them online. That way, you can access your information readily without destroying whole forests to do so.
10) Your Resolve
BlogHer is a whirlwind of friends, learning, parties, food, laughs. It’s so easy to get caught up in the moment and forget to even breathe, much less keep track of our impact on the planet. But if we take a moment ahead of time to plan, we can avoid last minute decisions that might lead to unnecessary waste.
In addition to making sure you have the items you need to bring to the conference, consider what you might not want to bring back home with you. There will be swag. Oh yes there will be swag. And it can be very tempting to collect every free giveaway item that comes your way. Ask yourself what items you need. What items will you actually use? And which things might be cute for half a second before ending up in the bottom of the closet?
Commit to taking a few minutes throughout each day to slow down and breathe. Getting centered and remembering our connection to Planet Earth is probably the most important thing we can do to create a conference that is inspiring, fun, and truly green.
I’m looking forward to meeting you at BlogHer! I’ll be on the panel, “Creating Tangible Social Change: How to Move People to Action,” on Friday from 1:15pm – 2:30pm. Hope to see you there!
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