In this edition of HFJ @ Home, Laura Libert, the Museum’s curatorial assistant and Sustainability Ambassador, details how the Johnson has been going green.

Last fall, the Johnson Museum formed its first-ever Green Team, joining a growing cohort of teams established across campus. It’s a new way for us to contribute to Cornell’s mission to be a living laboratory for sustainability innovation, progress, and learning.

Museums in particular bring a unique voice to the sustainability conversation. Preserving our collections for the education and enrichment of future generations is an essential part of our mission. This is a big responsibility, and it represents a complex set of challenges: protecting our collections means regulating their environment, and that extends to temperature, humidity, pests, and even the oils and dirt on our hands.

In 2017, the Johnson completed a series substantial increases in energy efficiency, and we found a way to recycle the used nitrile gloves we regularly use to handle artwork. Now, by forming a Green Team with decades of combined experience working in cultural institutions, we are finding ways to further improve the sustainability of our operations and encourage sustainably minded learning and engagement through our programs and collections.

We began by developing a zero-waste meetings kit in order to reduce plastic and paper waste generated from staff and smaller group meetings. We also started using Ithaca’s Dish Truck service for larger events to further reduce single-use dining waste. With the help of the Cornell Recycle Center, we looked into updating recycling signage in our lobbies and break rooms to educate staff and visitors on changing regulations, and we assessed our office spaces to see where we could mitigate energy usage and encourage sustainable practices.

Since having to temporarily close in March, the Green Team has had to pivot, but we’re just as enthusiastic as ever! Team membership has doubled, and we’ve started brainstorming the future of sustainability at the Johnson. We’ll be using this time to educate ourselves and our colleagues on how to live more sustainably while working from home, connect with other institutions to learn how they address sustainability in their operations and programs, and turn to our collection for inspiration and reflection.