Ideas and Examples

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This page is maintained by the Sustainability Committee at the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC). It is intended to provide information about sustainable practices for AIC members, conservation/preservation professionals, and other interested parties within the cultural heritage profession. Please send comments and suggestions to sustainability(at)

Please send your ideas about reducing, reusing or recycling materials to [email protected]

The EPA Pollution Prevention Act suggests that we first consider reducing use. If use reduction is not an option, the next goal should be to minimize amounts of any material and to reuse any waste. If reuse is not possible, then recycling should be the final and last option. Pollution that cannot be prevented or recycled should be treated in an environmentally safe manner. (EPA Pollution Prevention Act, Revised December 31, 2002) [1]

We need to look at both what can be recycled and what conservators and institutions can focus on to reduce the amount of waste produced. Three key areas are consideration of methods and materials used in treatments, packing and display waste, and waste disposal. Wendy Jedlicka, designer of packing products says, “Maybe there's a better way… to think about packaging. How about this? Assume that whatever you produce won't end up being recycled, or even sitting in a landfill. Assume that it will be incinerated, says Jedlicka reflecting on the garbage burner just down the street from her office. "I think of it that way: Whatever I design, I'll be breathing." (Fast Company blog) [2]

Some areas in which conservators can reduce their materials use:

More simple tips:

This wiki was created and is maintained by the Sustainability Committee (formerly the Committee on Sustainability in Conservation Practice). It is intended to provide information for AIC members and other interested parties. Any treatment should be carried out by a qualified conservator(find a conservator [3]). Please send comments and suggestions for sustainable practices to sustainability(a)