I attended the fifth annual meeting of the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences (AESS) last month. I had attended the inaugural meeting in Wisconsin in 2009 and the third meeting in Santa Clara in 2011, and had very much enjoyed these interdisciplinary gatherings of scholars who study the environment and society. This meeting was hosted by Pace University in New York City, which was a nice change of pace from the less urban venues of past meetings.
I spoke on a panel focused on environmental policy, and presented some of my research on “The Meaning of Embedded Values in Environmental Certifications and Ratings.” It was a great opportunity to talk about my plans for the second chapter of my book manuscript, which analyzes the development of information-based environmental governance strategies. In this particular chapter, my goal is to explore the role of values in determining the extent to which consumers and organizations pay attention and respond to sustainability ratings and labels. I mapped out some of the ideas I want to cover in the chapter in the presentation, and received some helpful questions and feedback that I am looking forward to incorporating into my next draft.
I also attended several other interesting panels at AESS, including ones on the Montreal Protocol, sustainable business, synthetic chemicals and society, and US climate policy. One of the highlights of the meeting was the field trip I went on to the new Sims Recycling Plant in Brooklyn. It was an odoriferous but fascinating tour of where now much of New York City’s recyclable materials goes for processing. Supposedly it is the largest recycling facility of its kind in the US. They have an educational exhibit and classroom for local schoolkids and citizens (and environmental studies conference participants) to learn more about the recycling process. See the photos below for a glimpse into that process — and a great view of NYC from the facility!