This talk was something I was super excited about since I am an emerging conservator myself. Having this type of platform for students and professionals in the field of conservation is something that will strengthen the communication about sustainability within the conservation world. Caitlin Southwick was such an animated speaker and really brought what she wanted to discuss to life. Southwick is a MA Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage student at the University of Amsterdam specializing in glass, ceramics, and stone. Through her many achievements and degrees in her art conservation education, it has spread to the conservation of the world around her. There are resources for large scale initiatives, but how as a student can she make her practice more sustainable?
The Sustainability in Conservation: Student Ambassador Program (SiC), formerly known as the Students for Sustainability in Conservation (SSiC), will help conservators, conservation treatments and labs become more ecofriendly on a smaller scale. One way Southwick has started this ecofriendly wave is with the recycling of nitrile gloves. The RightCycle Program is on a trial run at the University of Amsterdam and the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. This program is a propriety program from Kimberly-Clark Professional, which offers a range of high quality gloves under the KIMTECH brand that meet conservator’s needs. Nitrile gloves cannot be recycled the same way as other plastics due to their chemical makeup. Once nitrile glove recycling bin is full, the bin is picked up through the RightCycle program. The gloves are then broken down to a powder using cryogenic processes that make new ecofriendly products such as patio furniture.
Sustainability in Conservation has a wonderful website and can be found on Facebook as well as Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. This is where the conservation community can ask questions about how they can make their practices and labs more environmentally conscious. There are SiC researchers ready to help find the answers you are looking for when you do not have the time to research in depth. Southwick and her team want to help bring these findings to you. As Southwick stated during her presentation, these are the steps “to address the issue of sustainability in a comprehensive and clear way.”
In her bio, she explains how she “hopes to continue conservation and make saving the cultural heritage also about saving the planet.” I definitely know she will be a strong voice in the conservation world about conservation practices as well as how to practice saving the environment through programs like RightCycle. Her discussion at AIC was an eye-opener as to what we as conservators can do to conserve more than just what’s on our benches, but also the environment around us. These small steps she has introduced have and will create a huge impact. Thank you for sharing your love for the world, Caitlin!