Eco-friendly Conference Attendance

There’s probably several dozen major tech conferences, or pseudo tech-conferences, that happen every year. Social media hounds and bloggers head off to conferences like SXSW, Gnomedex or even SES.

What are some of the things that people can do to be a little more environmentally conscience while attending these things.


Instead of taking a cab, if you can swing it… walk! In most cases, people try to book hotel reservations in close proximity to a conference venue. You might be tempted to get a hotel close to the airport because it’s cheaper on a per night basis, but think about the gas or cab fees (and possibly tolls, depending on the locations!) you end up spending for the cheaper per night accommodations.

Consider staying close and eliminating cabs and rental cars from the mix. Save the gas and cab fares and maybe save a little extra money in the long run.

Hotel Room: Climate Control

Most of the time, hotel rooms are there solely for the purpose of crashing at night. You probably aren’t spending a lot of time in it during the day, so what’s the point in keeping the room climate at 68°F(20°C)? Bump it up to 75° when you’re not around and then reduce the temp to 71° or 72° when you get back in at night. The sun will have gone down and the afternoon heat will have dissipated.

Hotel Room: Linens and Towels

Most hotels these days have a little sign in the room encouraging you to reuse your towels and sheets. I encourage this as well. If you’re in a room for, say, 5 days… you probably only need to have your sheets changed twice. You can reuse that towel as well by hanging it up and letting it dry out. You’re not going to stink by using an already used towel. Believe me, if you’re like me, your towel is not getting changed out every day at home, is it?


Many conferences stream some or all of their sessions. Consider not going to the conference and, instead, watching it at home on your computer. Participate in the back-channel in whatever form it might me. Sure, you won’t get the personal interaction you might get in networking with other attendees, but you’ll have saved a few hundred on airfare, a few hundred more on hotel, and all those fuel surcharges.

For a more exhaustive list of good eco-friendly conferenct tips, check out Zack Greant’s post “20000 km, $7000, 7 Days and 4 tons of CO2 (or, ‘Making Event Attendance Count’)“.