drplasticpicker goes to the AAP National Conference in New Orleans and tries to use less plastic!
October 27, 2019
I am having a wonderful time at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition 2019 which is in New Orleans. This is proof that drplasticpicker is a real-life board certified pediatrician and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. But as drplasticpicker, how can I participate in these conferences and still try to use less plastic? I am traveling with my 3 clinic friends, and they are on board to try to reduce our plastic use while learning and having a good time eating in New Orleans.
List of 10 things we have done to reduce our plastic consumption.
- Brought Reusable Coffee Mugs/Canteen: This seems simple but in a conference full of pediatricians, we saw very few people bring reusable coffee mugs to the conference thus far and few in our fancy hotel. The AAP Conference Store was selling branded reusable merchandise but I did not see many people using them at the actual conference. Every morning, Dr. Plastic Picker and Dr. DearFriend bring our mugs from home down for our morning coffee. We then rinse them out after coffee and use them for water. No bottled water for us. We have saved money and plastic! The nice southern gentleman-fellow guest this morning said to us, “that is really great.” He also told us about a fun rodeo called the Angola Rodeo at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, which was a whole other interesting conversation about the purpose of prison as a place of rehabilitation.
- Reused Plastic Cup from Plane: On the plane ride to New Orleans, I forgot to fill my reusable coffee mug with water. I was feeling very dehydrated and did not feel safe refusing the water offered. I did not ask them to refill my mug because my fun neighbors were very jolly and already on their 4th drink. I quietly accepted the plastic cup, but kept it and am reusing it in the hotel to brush my teeth! It avoided me opening up an additional plastic cup!
- Sharing a Hotel Room with Friends: This was actually the best way to reduce plastic, save money and overall the most environmentally friendly action. Drplasticpicker and Dr. DearFriend shared a hotel room. We have worked next to each other happily in adjacent offices for 7 years, so sharing a hotel room is very comfortable. We are great roomies! Plus we are having fun trying to reduce plastic use together.
- Refused Daily Housekeeping: I think we saved money on the hotel bill as well, but we are staying at a Marriott hotel and by opting out of daily housekeeping we are saving some plastic but more importantly water. When we need more towels, we are just swapping them with the nice cleaning staff when they are by.
- Dr. DearFriend saved her Purple Contigo Mug! Any conference is always busy, as we rush from room to room making the different sessions. I lost and then found my phone. Then Dr. DearFriend lost her beloved purple Contigo coffee mug. She went back to the conference room but the convention center maintenance staff had thrown it away! But she persisted (also since it has sentimental value to her) and she went through the plastic bag and found it without too much trouble. She rescued something from the landfill that has meaning to her! She is a hero.
- Refused Lanyard: I brought 3 different lanyards that I have saved from previous conferences, and just reused the laynard that mostly resembled the current one. I asked the conference official when I registered, and she seemed confused. I know they recycle them as well, but I thought why not refuse completely? So far my blue lanyard versus the black one they are using has not been an issue.
- Refused Plastic Fork from Home: I brought 3 set of washed plastic cutlery from home. So far we have eaten at restaurants with real plates and utensils. But at the conference I ate lunch and chose the chicken gyro on a paper plate, and refused the new plastic fork and reused an old one. I did just throw that one out since there was not an easy place to wash it.
- Refused Plastic Straw: At a nice eatery, they gave us plastic straws covered in paper. Being careful not to get them wet, we gave them back to the waitress and said we did not need them. We joked around that we were from California, and she smiled at us kindly.
- Shared Toothpaste: I forgot my toothpaste. I thought about buying a new one, but that seemed silly. I asked my roomie if I could use her toothpaste! She is so nice, that she said yes. I’m careful not to have my toothbrush touch it.
- Accepting Only Two Tote Bags: This one I am pledging to do. So far, I received one reusable tote from the AAP that is made from 100% PET and had all our conference registration materials. This bag I will treasure and intend to reuse. One more bag was given to me unexpectedly at the welcome reception. That is it thus far. But the Exhibition Halls are very intimidating for drplasticpicker. How many bags with logos do I need? Also those bags come with pens and disposables and also those companies are trying to sell me stuff and influence me to have my patients buy things in plastic that they probably don’t need. I am one of those simple pediatricians that don’t want my parents wasting money on things with no proven value. I am making a pledge not to be sucked into the plastic-filled/ commercialized part of this conference. This is going to be a very hard one, but I will let you know how I do!
Thank you for joining me on my conference trip. Have you been to a professional conference recently? How did you try to reduce plastic consumption?