Call for bag free Supercomputing Conference (SC20)

Call for bag free Supercomputing Conference (SC20)

December 5, 2019
Petition to
The SC Conference Series and 2 others
Signatures: 104Next Goal: 200
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Why this petition matters

Started by Mustafa Mustafa

Dear SC19 organizing committee,

We are writing to express our concern about the backpacks you give away each year, although our concerns apply to many of the other items produced for and given away at SC as well. 

As we are sure you are aware, the Earth is facing a climate, resource, and waste crisis that will likely accelerate with each passing year unless we make real, immediate changes. As the stewards of a roughly 15,000 person event, the choices you make can have a substantial impact in terms of resources consumed and waste produced.

This year, like in years past, we believe you purchased and gave away more than 15,000 backpacks. We think it is time to take a step back and ask whether this is necessary, especially at this critical time for our climate. 

What does it take to provide 15,000 backpacks? Where are they produced? From what materials are they made? Are these materials created or harvested in a sustainable way? Are the workers that created these backpacks working in fair, safe conditions? How much energy and water were required in their production? How much carbon was required to transport them from the place they were made to Denver? How much total carbon entered the atmosphere to bring us these backpacks, many of which will sit in closets or worse, end up in landfills? 

We are writing to ask you to change this. 

We attend SC for the ideas, the intellectual exchange, the valuable networking and job opportunities, and the chance to experience the current state of our field. These giveaway items like backpacks are not necessary, and if next year you did not offer them, it would not affect the core character of SC at all.  

We humbly ask that you consider (1) asking attendees if they would like a backpack in advance and (2) if they decline, donating the cost of the backpack towards a carbon offset. Another option would be to shift toward sustainably produced materials for both backpacks and other merchandise. Declined backpacks could also be donated to people in need, as in past years. Still another option is to stop producing backpacks altogether. A step further would be to encourage your exhibitors to reconsider the items they give away as well. Principles of sustainability could be widely applied to much more than just the backpacks, but this is a good place to start. 

We ask this because you have the power to make change, the power to make a real positive difference in the world. As some of your 15,000 attendees, we would prefer to support an organization that is trying to help the world, whose values align with ours. Please join us in trying to improve our climate and our earth. 


Brandon Cook, Bjoern Enders, Annette Greiner, Karthik Kashinath, Laurie Stephey, Mustafa Mustafa

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Signatures: 104Next Goal: 200
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Decision Makers

  • The SC Conference Series
  • HPC Community
  • SC20 Attendees