Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Follow Along, Won't You?

"Change is constant."  Why, yes it is. Change is usually for the better too.  That is especially true in this case when I move my blog to it's new location at http://meetgreen.com/media/blog/

This updated home allows me to do all sorts of cool stuff while still bringing you tips, resources and everyday stories about my life as a green meeting planner.  It will require you to subscribe once again (I know, I am sorry).

Thanks to all of you who have been so gracious with your comments and support since 2008.  I look forward to many more years of sharing and learning as we continue to sustainably transform an entire industry.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Looking for a Role Model?

Then look no further. The UUA General Assembly has just published it's 2014 Event Sustainability Report and it is another successful year for the planning team of Jan Sneegas, Don Plante, Steve Ransom and Stacey Dixon.

Highlights from this year's event include:
  • Converting the Convention Center to 100% compostable serviceware for all concesions and catering during the General Assembly.
  • Expanding the the recycling and composting programs at the Rhode Island Convention Center to include co-mingled recyclables and front of house food and serviceware.  The Dunkin Donuts Center offered composting for the first time.
  • Record-high contributions toward a carbon offset project.
  • 100% of exhibitors signed sustainability Terms and Conditions for their booths.
  • Hotel worker solidarity was an important issue as the UUA canceled contracts with two local hotels due to outstanding labor issues.

and the list goes on.

The planning team would tell you they didn't get there overnight or without the help of their vendors, volunteers and participants.  To help you along the way, they have shared a "road map" in the form of all past case studies posted on this website (scroll down for the past reports).  They share openly about their challenges, opportunities and successes.  Take a few moments to learn from the best.

2015 will find the UUA General Assembly in Portland, Oregon.  The team is already meeting with the city, convention center, hotels and vendors to make sure sustainable practices are in place.  Keep watching!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Saving Green by Going Green at the Pump

Ten years ago, my reason for buying a Prius was to be gentler on our planet.  I was concerned about reducing greenhouse gases and my dependence on oil (full disclosure: there are some who say I wasn't concerned enough to give up my car completely.  You are right, it is a journey for me too).

Two weeks ago, the Prius turned over 100,000 miles and all of the early hoopla about the batteries not lasting and other scary myths have been put to rest.  I calculated the cost of gas for driving those 100,000 at my average of 47mpg.  Based on $3.35/gallon (avg) paid at the pump, this was a total of $7,127.66.

Just for fun, my husband calculated the cost of gas for his business' pick-up truck, which also has 100,000 miles, and found he paid over $21,000 to drive the same distance.  I saved nearly $14,000 in gas alone by driving a hybrid!

It turns out, by "doing the right thing" for the environment, I did the right thing for my pocketbook.  Perhaps it is time to dust off the bike after all.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Taking the Leap to Paperless

No more binders full of paper, no more printing banquet event orders, no more copies of production schedules.  We did it!  Thanks to technology, resourceful team members and a true commitment to reduce our own event planning paper stream, this fall's event documents are now 100% electronic.

Carole Garner, Director of Conference Management, made it her own personal mission to go digital and through her leadership transformed the way we do business.  The team learned a lot during the testing phase and incorporated those learnings into a final product.  During a pre-con this week, the Grand Hyatt New York Conference Service Manager and staff said we were the first to go through a full week of events without one piece of paper.

In the picture of Carole above, you will also note, we were able to source name badges that don't require plastic name badge holders (Thanks to Shawna McKinley, Director of Sustainability).  The lanyard she is wearing will be reused.

If you want any details, please, just ask!  Those of you familiar with MeetGreen, know that we openly share our resources and don't believe fellow industry professionals should have to reinvent the wheel. 

After all, "One small step for man, one giant leap..."

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Treading Lightly Near the Rim

Leaving Las Vegas for the Grand Canyon, I had a lot of expectations around the vast natural beauty I was soon to explore.  What I didn't expect was a sustainable lodging experience, second-to-none, with an honest concern for treading lightly on the Earth.

My hotel room at the Grand National Park Lodge surprised me with:

Bulk hand soap and a recycled-content, compostable cup
to fill with certified coffee from well-managed sources

and all the amenities I could need in bulk dispensers in the shower.

Now I'm no expert...
Well, maybe I am, but I was very impressed by the "legendary hospitality with a softer footprint" the Xanterra Parks and Resorts property offered during my stay.

Early members of the Green Meeting Industry Council, they have worked hard to provide sustainable accommodations to the 4.5 million people per year who visit the Grand Canyon alone.  Since 2000, they have used:

48.6% less water
17.4% less electricity
40% less construction waste per project and 32% less waste overall.

Over 40% of their food is sustainably sourced and in the first three months of 2014, the mules munched three tons of kitchen scraps such as discarded apples, lettuce, melon rinds and pumpkins.

While not every hotel has mules to feed, every hotel has a responsibility to its guests and to the planet.  Having seen this in action, I will be far more likely to hold hotels to a higher standard of sustainable hospitality.

Note:  As I was happily running about the hotel room taking these photos, my patient husband simply said, "Oh no, I feel a blog post coming on."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

#Eventprofs Call to Action

When Lindsay Arell accepted the Convention Industry Council Pacesetter Award last week during IMEX America, she challenged the audience of top-level meeting industry professionals to change an industry.  Her passionate plea is essential to our future and for those of you who didn't hear it, I share it with you now.

"I am so incredibly honored to be receiving this award from the Convention Industry Council and my colleagues.

For those  of you who may not know me, my role in our industry for the past 8 years has been to work with planners and suppliers to implement more sustainable best practices in their operation and events.  When I started in this role, these efforts were few and far between.  However, the idea that we could and SHOULD  do things different was beginning to take shape and the conversation was started.  In fact, as I look around the room tonight, some of those early adopters and leaders are here.

One of the reasons I have been so inspired to continue on this path is because the scope of influence that the meeting industry has globally.  When we bring innovation, creativity, and sustainability to our meetings and events, we have the opportunity to touch the lives of thousands of people.  This includes not only the suppliers we work with and our staff, but also the attendees of our events and potentially their friends and family.  If a person experiences sustainability at an event, they may very well bring those practices back to their office and into their daily lives and to their friends, partners and children.  And as we all know, there is a meeting or association for every type of person… meaning our scope of influence is seemingly limitless.

But it all starts here… I truly believe each and every one of us can participate in this movement!  Therefore I am taking this opportunity tonight to appeal to you all with a call to action.  I urge everyone in this room – suppliers and planners – to begin the conversation around sustainability.  Just ask… what can we do differently or expand upon to improve the sustainability of my operation?  Then, take that step.  Even if it is just one… we all need to get on the escalator of change and together we have the power to shift our industry.  Thank you very much!"
- Lindsay Arell, October 12, 2014

Thank you, Lindsay, for your inspired dedication and the call to action.  Let's make her proud!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Leave 'Em Behind

Packing for IMEX America 2014, I pull out all my best "Las Vegas" shoes and fill up a suitcase.

All of this thinking about my feet reminds me of my carbon footprint.

Which reminds me of a fact I learned about last year's IMEX America...

"If every attendee had packed just one less pair of shoes, it would have saved 50,245 lbs. of CO2."  

That's a lot of greenhouse gas.

With this in mind, I parse my shoe wardrobe and pull out these beauties to stay home.  To which, my husband loudly remarked, "You should have left those behind a decade ago."

Headed for Vegas, Baby!