I’m all for a green conference – save energy, water, re-usable materials – but I have to say that the conference bag was just not up to past standards. In a way I feel bad for all those first-time attendees because they will never know the golden years of ACRL conference bags. Here’s what we got in Seattle:
This bag is described as being made from 51% recycled material. I’m all for recycled material. This bag might work for a fast 15-items or less trip to the grocery store, but it fails to meet the needs of a hard-driving conference attendee. No zippers. No internal pockets. No key holder. No back pocket for papers and maps. No cool internal hidden pocket where you’ll leave something and forget it until the next conference (Oh wow – so that’s where I put that). No water bottle holder (plastic BPA free re-usable bottle of course). In all, it just doesn’t cut it as a conference bag.
Lest I sound ungrateful or anti-green movement please know that I’m an outstanding recycler of past conference bags. In fact, I only need one good one and I’ll just keep using it over and over again. In fact I went to Seattle with my ACRL 10th National Conference bag which I think is the all-time hands-down champion of ACRL conference bags (see the photo in the post).
Here’s my suggestion for how we can really save money and resources at the 15th National Conference. Provide an option on the registration form where attendees can indicate if they want a bag or not (e.g., Option 1 – I must have an environmentally-friendly bag; Option 2 – Never mind – I’ll bring my own). That way ACRL knows exactly how many bags to produce and bring and only those who want it get one (easily noted on their badge). End result – no wasted bags that end up in the trash.
ACRL provided two other environmentally-friendly supplies for conference goers. One was a mug made of corn plastic. I guess that will eventually find its way into the jungle of unused mugs in one of my kitchen cabinets. The other one is already a permanent fixture in my shower. ACRL provided a nifty little shower timer that lets you know when four minutes have expired.
According to Mary Ellen Davis, ACRL Executive Director, the average American takes an eight-minute shower. So we were given a tool to help save Seattle a whole lot of water during the conference. I used it everyday and never spent more than 3 minutes showering. I thought the thing wasn’t working right so I timed it with a stopwatch when I got home. It’s exactly 4 minutes. The real test will be when the kids come home for visits. If I can get them to take 4-minute showers I will be forever in debt to ACRL.
And even if you didn’t use the ACRL bag or the ACRL shower timer you still could eat an ACRL cookie: