Earlier this month the CFM Blog looked into environmental sustainability in museums. Elizabeth asked if ‘good’ is ‘good enough’ or does the planet need each museum to do much more to truly help meet carbon-cutback goals or any other environmental impact goals? She commented that recycling is good and important, but that simple good activity might lull us into complacency; and that The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s SeaFood Watch program is really what we should emulate in our work.
I agree – almost. I believe fervently that those of us who can, must; but that it’s honest and reasonable to say that many of us have a long way to go to achieve that impact. To get there the rest of us must
- just start, no matter how small, and
- recognize that green is a team sport – doing it together has that bigger impact we need.
For most of us, the way to close the distance between activities like Seafood Watch and our day-to-day reality, is to just get going any way we can. Start from where you are, and with an idea that you want to get someplace else. Educators know to meet visitors wherever they are – at the museum or in the community, as new learners or scholars, with opportunities for contemplation or engagement. Let’s use that lesson to start green practice wherever we can right at this moment: double-sided printing, an alternative to vinyl banners, choosing local food for events, or taking the Smithsonian’s SITES exhibit on environmental sustainability. Then take the next step and the next.
Since green is addictive, you’ll just keep going. Recycling leads to composting and banner recycling; composting leads to research into waste-to-energy, and banner recycling triggers more sustainable banner design; the city and the energy provider join you in creating a community waste-to-energy site, and the banner project becomes a local artist opportunity and then a fundraiser for each exhibit. Along the way you gain knowledge, partners, supporters and good will, and it all began the day you started recycling.
Green is a journey, not a destination. You never ‘arrive’ because one green deed leads to another. Later this week I’ll offer some suggestions on how to take the first step along the road.