Since the year 2000, the NSS/MIC conference has grown in both size and breadth from an annual average of about 850 attendees to now over 2000. Both the NSS and MIC programs have more than doubled in size and scope, and in the year 2001, the semi-annual RTSD Workshop (now an annual Symposium) co-located their event with the NSS/MIC, providing significant benefits to those interested in detector and detection materials development.
While the growth of the conference has provided many benefits (as well as challenges), the negative side of this is a geometric increase in waste. At the end of every conference, I have witnessed the disposal of appreciable amounts of paper and plastic – with significant increases each year. This doesn’t include the waste products from hotels and convention centers associated with food and beverage services and banquet supplies. Of course, not all things can be perfect; we still need to have lights, projectors, microphones, air conditioning (or heating), but we are trying to reduce, to the extent possible, the waste stream from the conference. In this vein, I have initiated a policy of producing no paper products. What does this mean? Well, the following is what we are striving to accomplish:
We will have no paper hardcopy products. This includes the traditional Program Booklet, advertisements, announcements - essentially the stack of stuff that is usually loaded into the conference bag.
Speaking of the conference bag, we're not going to have those, either. Most everyone I know either has an extensive inventory of these bags that, in general, serve little purpose after the conference, or they are disposed of accordingly.
The Washington State Convention Center is exceptional with respect to green activities. Almost all materials used by the convention center will be reusable (no paper or plastic), with a few item that will be, at a minimum, compostable. Electronic displays will be used to identify session rooms in an effort to eliminate the tripod-mounted placards at the doors.
So, what about the Program, you might ask? Well, we are creating an application for smart devices (smart phones, tablets) that will eclipse the utility of a paper program booklet. This application will contain a plethora of information and capabilities that include not only the conference schedule and activities, but will include active convention center maps, author and speaker information, Seattle information, custom agenda creation, note-taking ability, QR code reader, etc., etc. This application will be available soon for download on this website for every major OS (Android, iOS, Blackberry, Windows Mobile). Because we control the application, it will always be up-to-date. No more erroneous session listings, no more marginally correct errata sheets to cross-reference.
So, I ask the question, "Is this an ecologically-aware event?" I would honestly say that we are as close as we can get, and we seek your help and cooperation in this endeavor.
Anthony Lavietes, General Chair
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, USA