The Green Museum Store at President Lincoln’s Cottage

By Shih-Chun Tseng

Operating out of the LEED Gold certified Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center building, the staff members at President Lincoln’s Cottage strive for sustainability in all aspects of site programs and services.  The latest area to undergo an internal green review is the Museum Store.

The Green Museum Store

  1. Postcards-We now purchase only recycled content postcards.  These “tree-free” paper products are made entirely from discarded paper letting you take home an eco-friendly reminder of your experience at the site.
  2. Shopping bags- Our new non-woven polypropylene, 100% recyclable and reusable tote bags are a great alternative to our paper bags for the visitor who wants to load up with books and other goodies without unnecessarily expanding their carbon footprint.  Moreover, the reinforced, recycled bottom panel makes our tote bags more durable and the wide base makes them useful for grocery shopping.
  3. Water bottles- Why not kick the the plastic water bottle habit while supporting the site?  We have two new water bottles in production.  Having a reusable metal water bottle is not only better for your body but also for the planet and your wallet.  Instead of buying a plastic water bottle, purchase a metal one and fill up at the water fountain as many times as you like.  An article from Time suggests a list of Eco-Friendly Water Bottles.  The Tree Hugger points out that Polycarbonate bottles may leach a hormone disrupting chemical, bisphenol A (BPA), even at room temperature. A stainless steel (both inside and out) bottle is a safe alternative. Although the New York Times reminds us that metal bottles have a high embodied energy, their durability makes them one of the best options on the market for reusable water bottles.
  4. Palm leaf fans- The Lincolns moved to the Cottage in part for the cool breezes.  At least one visitor to the Cottage spoke of Lincoln fanning himself with a palm-leaf fan on a hot August evening.  Not only are these fans fun and lightweight, but they can cool you down on the hottest summer days. The fans are so effective, they are now used on the tour in the summer months.  Made of natural palm trees, these fans are biodegradable and let you cool off in style just as President Lincoln did.
  5. Reduce and Recycle programWe have a comprehensive recycling program on site, which includes hauling materials to a recycling center if those particular recyclables aren’t part of the AFRH campus pick-up plan.  We make it easy for our visitors to recycle with us.  Two large bins are placed in the store, one for paper and another for bottles and cans.  Moreover, in order to reduce shipping energy and post customer waste, our shop manager orders in bulk and reuses packing materials such as cardboard boxes and bubble wrap for our own shipping service.

The Green “Café”

Considering the environment impact of products used for beverage service in the Museum Store, we decided to replace Styrofoam hot/cold cups with recycled paper cups. (The cups contain a minimum of 12% post-consumer recycled material.  The insulating middle layer contains 99% post-consumer material.)   To minimize and prevent pollution, we buy bulk sugar and offer it in a dispenser instead of providing individual paper packets while wooden stir sticks are more eco-friendly than the plastic product. These small steps can save a lot of post-consumer waste, making the site more green.

Looking for a whole green historic site experience?  Come and visit us, all above items are available in the museum store at President Lincoln’s Cottage.

We welcome you to share your tips and ideas on how we can further green the store and the site, or let us know your tips for an eco-friendly lifestyle.

Ms. Tseng is a Summer 2009 Intern at President Lincoln’s Cottage.
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