Friday, April 11, 2014

Poetry Friday

There once was a team from MeetGreen

They didn’t like polystyrene

They said, “No more at our meetings
or there will be beatings”

For we want our planet pristine.

Because sometimes it is okay to be silly and not take our work in sustainability so seriously.  Looking forward to some silly, innovative, enriching and thought-provoking discussions next week at the Green Meeting Industry Council's Sustainable Meetings Conference in San Francisco!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Things You Should or Should NOT Do in a Hotel Room

You know the basic rules of staying in a hotel, such as not stealing the bathrobes or keeping your neighbors up late at night. Right?  Today, we are talking about basic rules for traveling green. Somewhere between leaving home and arriving in the hotel room, many travelers forget about being environmentally responsible. People, who wouldn’t consider opening a new bar of soap every time they wash their hands, don’t bat an eye at opening a new mini soap each day. Even self-appointed, tap water connoisseurs at home, grab the $5.00 individual of bottle sitting on the night stand while on the road.

Whether this is new information or simply a reminder, here are a few rules to travel by…

  • Take the morning paper unless you intend to read it. Otherwise, tell the front desk to skip your room. 
  • Use the Keurig. In case you haven’t heard why not, read this
  • Order room service. Rarely are the mini, individual portioned condiments donated, reused or recycled.
  • Leave your lights or HVAC on when away. Heat or cool your room when you return from your day’s activities without wasting energy all day long. 
  • Leave your discarded conference swag, donate it. A recent Cornell University study found 20% of hotel left behinds are from meetings. 
  • Recycle in your guest room. If bins aren’t available, ask housekeeping what to do with recyclables. 
  • Reuse linens and towels. Follow the hotels directions and if they are changed anyway…Complain! 
  • Check out using the paperless system. Most hotels offer this service which saves paper and time. Extra points to the hotels who email the receipt to you. 
  • Take mass transit or a shuttle back to the airport. Plan ahead to save money and the environment. 
  • Ask the concierge about walking to shops and restaurants instead of taking a cab or renting a car. Enjoy the local flavor and get some exercise. 
After all, we are guests at their hotel as well as "guests” of this planet. Let’s remember our manners.

Note:  Conference attendees may need to be reminded as well.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Case for Case Studies

After every event, meeting managers produce reports for registration, food & beverage, room nights and  budgets.  We tie up all the loose ends in a neat little package.  What planners usually fail to do is tell the story of the conference in an easy-to-digest document for all of the event stakeholders.

Our conference management team has adopted the practice of producing an Event Sustainability Report for each meeting we manage.  In addition, to covering the green meeting practices it also consolidates valuable conference data.  The report includes:

  • Event Scope
  • Event Purpose
  • Sustainability Strategy and Challenges
  • Meeting Venue
  • Food and Beverage
  • Communications and Registration
  • Community Service
  • Carbon Offsets
  • Exhibits
  • MeetGreen Calculator Summary
  • Recommendations for Future Events
  • Photos of the Event

The sustainability initiatives, challenges, outcomes and recommendations in one neat package is provided to the host organization. Case studies not only help the organization and it's stakeholders learn but also help other meeting managers and organizations who are working towards more sustainable events.

The Society for Ecological Restoration's World Conference on Ecological Restoration has graciously agreed to share their recent case study with all of you.  You may view the entire case study here.

So when you are "closing up shop" on another event, add a case study document to your final duties.  You'll be glad you did!

Thanks also to Rebecca Mebane, Project Manager, MeetGreen, for sharing her work with the world.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Pack One Less Pair of Shoes

Did you know if you pack just one less pair of shoes you can eliminate 5 lbs. of CO2 when traveling by air?


If you opt for an electronic program instead of a paper one you can save 52 gallons of water?


If you participate in a hotel's linen-reuse program you can save 1.3 gallons of water?  That might not sound like much, but what if you multiply those 1.3 gallons by all 250 participants attending your meeting.  The water savings would be 325 gallons of water--a substantial amount in today's drought-stricken climate.

This handy calculator was developed to help meeting managers tell the story of how our daily decisions, and those of our attendees, can affect the environment.  If you are interested in this storytelling aid and over 40 other meeting planning tools in addition to APEX/ASTM Sustainable Event Standards checklists, check out the MeetGreen Resource Kit today.

We've "done the math" for you!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Water, Water...Everywhere?

Widening Circles by Nancy Zavada

If you don’t consider the scarcity of water a huge issue for the citizens of this planet, you haven’t been paying attention.  Water scarcity affects 2.7 billion people worldwide for at least a month a year and it is getting worse.

Are we in the hospitality industry paying attention?

Several recent examples of this have me wondering.

  1. During a stay in a drought-stricken, water-restricted town in Texas, the ice bucket in my room was filled every night without request.  It is one of their guest services.  I tried desperately for the three nights of my stay to get this “service” to stop, but was not successful.  
  2. At a recent conference in California, the hotel caterer required all the water glasses were pre-filled.  When the event coordinator pleaded to instead have just a pitcher of water and glasses on each table, she was told it was a “labor union policy.”  It was not until this event coordinator elevated her request to the General Manager, citing Governor Brown’s recent Drought Emergency Act,  that the practice was discontinued “for this event only.”
  3. Another hotel in a city facing water restrictions is clinging to the idea that all of their guests need their sheets changed (and washed) every single day without giving guests the chance to opt out of the program.

Again, are we paying attention?  Can our industry be part of the solution and not part of the problem? 

As meeting professionals, both planners and suppliers, we have an enormous opportunity to make an impact just by making more responsible choices, to be aware of the consequences of our requests on the communities where our events are held.  Most of these choices are the low-hanging fruit of water conservation.

The “higher-hanging fruit” food and beverages choices will be next.  Here are some examples of the water footprint of commonly ordered products to think about.

  • 1 gallon of wine requires 1,008 gallons of water
  • 1 gallon of coffee requires 880 gallons of water
  • 1 gallon of tea requires 128 gallons of water

And if that doesn’t hit where it hurts, how about
  •  1 lb. of chocolate requires 3,170 gallons of water

We talk a lot about how mighty the travel/meeting industry is and about our buying power.  Let’s put it to good use for the fellow citizens of this planet!

Source:  The Hidden Water We Use, National Geographic, via Treehugger

Monday, February 10, 2014

You Make Me Feel So Good

Think storytelling doesn't do any good?  Think your stakeholders don't need to be praised for "doing the right thing?" 

Think again!

My annual Blue Sky Renewable Energy Program statement from came today from Pacific Power and I couldn't be prouder.  My support of  renewable energy over the past year:

Avoided 13,200 pounds of CO2 = 14,212 miles not driven or 
155 trees planted

They also informed me that by participating, I supported the Dry Creek Landfill Gas Project (powering 3,200 homes for a year); a wind power project in Wasco, Oregon; and four native fish habitat restoration projects.  


Why am I telling you all of this?

Because it was a strong reminder for me (and hopefully others in sustainable event management) to share the story with every conference participant who takes a moment to sort their waste instead of tossing into the landfill or walks instead of taking a cab or reuses their towels.  

Don't forget to make them feel good all over again for making a wise choice!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Navigating the ABCs of Sustainable Meetings

Aqueous Inks to BioPreferred to CPG Compliant. What the heck?

The ABCs of today's event managers have certainly changed with the inclusion of sustainable practices in our daily routines.  There is a new vocabulary set which comes into play when making wise choices about your meetings and how they affect the planet. 

Thanks to my CMP, I can rattle off definitions for chevron sets, attrition clauses, and RFPs.  The environmental definitions are still not solid in my brain, so I refer to this online glossary we developed

Please use it as your own as you make decisions and purchases for your upcoming events.  We also welcome any new information to add to this resource because "all of us are smarter than one of us."  Simply add it to the comments field and we will post it in the glossary.