Introducing the ABA Green Team

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In a continuation of the American Booksellers Association’s ongoing efforts to promote more environmentally sustainable practices in its White Plains, New York, office and at association events, ABA has launched a new initiative, the ABA Green Team (TGT). The Green Team is being led by Membership and Marketing Officer Meg Smith, Meetings and Planning Officer Jill Perlstein, and Director of ABA Technology Greg Galloway, who all began working on the initiative in November 2018.

“For a number of years, ABA has tried to be conscious of minimizing waste and paper usage where we could,” said Galloway. “The association has established this new initiative because ABA believes it should elevate its green efforts in light of the mounting scientific evidence about global climate change.”

“There is a risk that individuals and businesses may feel, in light of the massive challenges before us, that there is nothing they can do to help,” Smith added. “But that isn’t true. Modeling behavior is contagious, and studies show it leads to others being more willing to change their own behavior.”

So far, the Green Team has replaced the compostable utensils in ABA’s break room with metal flatware, swapped the Keurig and single-use K-Cups for an old-fashioned coffee pot, and opted for printer paper with a higher post-consumer content. Perlstein added that the Green Team is also working with hotels and convention centers to reduce waste at the institutes and other meetings.

Additionally, the Green Team has surveyed ABA office staff to collect information on commuting, travel for work, and other energy-intensive ABA-related actions in order to calculate the organization’s carbon footprint. With this information, the Green Team can tailor its efforts to create an ABA-specific course of action for reducing impact on the environment.

Galloway suggested that booksellers who are interested in making their stores more eco-conscious should consider calculating their carbon footprint using an online calculator, such as one created by California’s CoolClimate Network.

“There has been a spate of articles and advice regarding eco-conscious practices for businesses in the national media, especially since the publication of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report in October,” Smith said, adding that there are many ways for stores to do their part.

“Climate activism can range from expanding recycling programs to switching to solar power to working to achieve climate justice, and to changes regarding energy efficiency and the reduction of dependency on fossil fuel,” she said.

The Green Team welcomes tips, ideas, and best practices from member stores. Many independent bookstores, such as Wild Rumpus Books, Books With a Past, Page 1 Books, Northshire Bookstore, Antigone Books, and MainStreet BookEnds, have begun implementing eco-conscious practices.  

Booksellers who are interested in sharing their experiences or advice can e-mail Meg Smith or Greg Galloway.

“We’re not bookstore owners or booksellers,” Galloway said. “There are definitely booksellers who have really thought a lot about how to be more eco-conscious and have blazed new trails in the process. We’d love to hear from them and to share their experiences with the entire ABA membership.”