On February 21-22, Iowa State University will hold the 2011 Symposium on Sustainability. This is the second year this annual event and is being held and will feature Jerome Ringo, Senior Executive for Global Strategies at Green Port, a company that focuses on establishing sustainable “green” ports around the world, and Kim Jordan, CEO and co-founder of New Belgium Brewing, a company that has incorporated tenets of environmental stewardship into their culture and company.

Yvon Chouinard in front of Grant Wood mural "Other Arts Follow" in Parks Library.

Last year we were lucky to have Yvon Chouinard, blacksmith, climber, founder and former CEO of Patagonia, and co-founder of 1% for the Planet (an Earth tax according to Chouinard) kick-off the Live Green Sustainability Symposium.  It was quite a coup for the Lectures Series and the University to attract such a highly sought-after businessman/ environmentalist to speak.  Maybe you’ve seen his recent American Express Member Project commercial.

Conservation and Special Collections had the pleasure of showing Yvon and his wife Malinda our collections and the lab.  They are such a lovely couple!  Special Collections pulled out some of their beautiful volumes with hand-colored plates including Birds of South America by Lord Barbourne and Catesby’s Natural history of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands. The Birds of South America was of particular interest since Yvon was on his way to Patagonia to continue his efforts to establish a Patagonia National Park in southern Argentina and Chile.

In the Conservation Lab, Yvon seemed to be right at home with all of the equipment.  As a blacksmith, he could totally understand the satisfaction of working with one’s hands.  We showed them the library’s oldest book St. Thomas Aquinas Quaestiones de veritate and the cradle box that had been made for it.  We talked about how hemp paper would be better for the environment than wood and cotton, assuming the hemp is grown and harvested responsibly.  But at this point it is not an option thanks in part to William Randolph Hearst the newspaper magnate and owner of paper mills and timber farms, for supporting the war on marijuana/hemp.

By the end of the day, they had inspired us to be more responsible and take action.  How can we reuse or recycle our materials better?  Where are our supplies from and how are they made?  How are the raw materials grown or produced?  Organic cotton? What else can we do to improve the sustainability of our preservation practices?

Share some of your practices with us. Have you changed the way you do things? Are you more efficient with the use of materials? Have you discovered better ways to reuse or recycle materials?

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