Reducing Your Convention Carbon Footprint

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In 2012, when Hurricane Sandy dealt a bruce-force attack across the Mid-Atlantic states, I wrote a short piece for Joshua Newman’s xenoglyph blog about gaming and climate change.

Since then, I’ve been thinking about small but meaningful changes that the gaming community can make to lessen our carbon footprint. I welcome your input and additions.

Convention Travel

  • Carpool. If you plan on driving, connect with other convention-goers a month or more before the event to arrange a ride share. If you’re in need of a ride, offer gas money and snacks in exchange for a seat in the car.
  • Tune up. Improve fuel efficiency by checking your oil and tire pressure before a long drive.
  • If you’re not over-encumbered by books, costumes, or heavy gear, consider taking a bus or train. You’ll get to catch up on reading (or catch up on sleep) while you travel.
  • Prioritize conventions that are closest to home. Avoid (or consolidate) air travel when possible.
  • Book your hotel well in advance so you’re close to the convention.

Convention Lodging

  • I often see this one overlooked when I’m sharing a hotel room with other people: When leaving your room, turn off the lights and air-conditioning.
  • If you can manage it, ask that linens and towels be washed/changed every other day, instead of every day.
  • Turn off electronics if not using or charging. Unplug electronics that may be using vampire energy (laptops, phone chargers).
  • Be mindful of water use. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth. Do shower, but don’t languish there.

Convention Eating

  • The biggest difference I’ve made in reducing my convention waste has been in bringing my own reusable water bottle and travel mug. Remembering these two things has saved me from using countless plastic water bottles and styrofoam cups. As an added bonus, I no longer drop out of long games due to awful-dry-scratchy-throat-syndrome.
  • Bring extra food and water. A little extra planning will help you avoid on-the-fly, plastic-wrapped food. Apples, bananas, crackers, a jar of peanut butter, and a big bag of trail mix make for great convention food.
  • Go out of your way to rinse and recycle food packaging.

Convention Recreation

  • Practice mindful swag acquisition. Dig deep and ask yourself, “Do I really, truly need this little plastic dongle?”
  • Go light on paper advertising. Get creative and use smaller pieces of paper to advertise your book/art/game, if possible.
  • If you’re running a game with paper handouts, collect up the handouts at the end of the game. You can either reuse them in your next game, or recycle them later.

Clean up after yourself and don’t forget the people who clean up after you. Leave a positive life footprint by tipping the person who will be cleaning up your hotel room. Remember the people who are working hard behind the scenes to give you a clean room and a pleasant stay.