Sustainability at MobileHCI 2022

Don’t be afraid of physical conferences but be aware…

Conferences are great to meet people but they have an impact on the planet.

However, the community is taking action! Since 2019, SIGCHI conferences include Sustainability Chairs in their program committee. We are thrilled to continue the trend with MobileHCI’22! We are not seeking perfection (yet 😉), but to take steps in the right direction.

Our approach

We built upon what MobileHCI'21 has done or intended to do. We are trying to be as transparent as possible by documenting what we do. All details are or will be provided. Our goal is that other conferences from the HCI community can benefit from it.

One last thing! Feel free to re-use this webpage and build upon it. The text and the documents we use are or will be freely available. If you want to contribute, you are more than welcome to contact us. We hope this might help future conference chairs, or anyone that needs to take action in event organization, for instance as a list of items to look at.

Contacting previous Sustainability Chairs

Let’s start with the obvious. In order to prepare our plan, we started by looking at what previous conferences UIST'19, IHM'19, CHI'19 and CHI'20 had done, as well as the sustainability statement written by our General Chairs for their conference proposal. We then contacted the Sustainability Chairs of the MobileHCI’21 for more details.

Carbon footprint

Our general goal is to reduce the carbon footprint of the conferences. However, it should not be at the expense of the conference attendance. We, therefore, aim to undertake sustainable actions in order to balance out the carbon produce, by either directly cutting through the emissions or offsetting them through tree planting programs (such as local ones or more global ones), following CHI 2019 and IHM 2019 examples.

Public Transport

Vancouver’s international airport (YVR) is just 35 minutes by car. Rapid transit between the airport and downtown Vancouver, the Canada Line, is only one block from the Centre for Dialogue. Nearly all of Vancouver's major hotels are within a short walking distance, along with shopping districts, art galleries, and restaurants.

Major public transit lines, the SeaBus, SkyTrain, Canada Line, and West Coast Express, terminate at Waterfront Station, located in the historic Canadian Pacific Railway Station on Cordova Street, opposite Simon Fraser University at Harbour Centre. Transit schedules can be found at www.translink.ca. The Centre for Dialogue is also within easy walking distance of most buses coming into the downtown core link.

Foods

We have considered reusable items such as eco cups, mugs, or water bottles. Re-usable is often quickly better than disposable. Instead of providing plastic dishwares, glass containers at breaks that are brought by the caterer and that will be reused for sure. The conference venue, SFU MECS has eliminated single-use plastics and products for our catering services link. We provide reusable dishware and compostable products only. Our catering menus offer healthy and low carbon impact (e.g. vegetarian, vegan) catering options and we serve Fairtrade Canada-certified coffee, tea, and sugar.

Ideas and text adapted from UIST 2019 & 2020 (Ion Alexandra, Nicholas Chen, Kristin Williams & Christopher Clarke)

Badges, Bags, and Goodies

We built upon UIST 2019’s idea to replace plastic badge holders with paper ones and have considered using reusable, eco-friendly badges and lanyards. Badges will have the same features as conventional badges but will be degradable as they will be made from certified recycled paper. Our lanyard material is made of recycled pop bottles (PET):

  • Clear plastic bottles are recycled, gathered, cleaned, shredded, and melted down
  • The molten plastic is then pushed through a sieve, creating many long strips of plastic
  • The plastic strips are stretched and shredded a second time, which produces a material that resembles wool
  • This material is then brushed straight and woven into long strips that end up on a spool in different widths
  • These spools of material are then cut to size to produce your lanyards and can accommodate a full-color digital imprint

As many conferences before, we seek to drastically reduce and ideally eliminate promotional items, so-called “swag”. Although we do push for a reduction of promotional items, we do support sponsors in promoting their investment in our conference. The community has researched ideas and recommendations for sustainable promotion, including sources such as this guide. We have considered reusable items and will provide eco-friendly, durable tote bags to encourage the reduction of plastic waste.

Conference centre

Following CHI 2020, we will look at the use of AC in the conference building. We will be in control of the AC thermostat, which allows us to drop the conference room temperatures by a few degrees.