Wednesday, April 23, 2014

SCRAPy Solution to Event Waste

Photo at SCRAP in San Francisco by Nancy Zavada

Imagine, someone begging for donations of used signage, conference bags and lanyards?  Me neither, until I took a field trip to SCRAP during the GMIC Sustainable Meetings Conference. 

SCRAP takes an amazing amount of used items (ones that Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity won't) and diverts 250 tons of waste from the landfill each year.  The Creative Reuse Center and Warehouse is organized by type of material: wood, metal, glass, fabric, paper, images, plastic, natural materials, beads & buttons, arts & crafts, toys, and more. The entrance contains a section of free materials. The rest are available at low-cost to artists, teachers and the creative public. Monies raised from the depot keep SCRAP going, offering free materials pick-ups, low-cost workshops, school field trips, and more.

Never again will conferences and events in San Francisco have to wonder where they can donate those leftover items.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Stop Hunger. Looking Silly Optional!

On Day Two of the GMIC Sustainable Meetings Conference, participants took part in a project to help Stop Hunger Now.

This is one of the most well organized volunteer projects I have ever been involved in.  It was easy for attendees to step right in and begin packing food for the hungry.  It was fun, worthwhile and the music kept the energy up.  In just one hour's time, attendees were able to pack nearly 30,000 meals and look silly all at the same time.

Take a look at their website (linked above) and consider doing the same at your event.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

No Excuse Guest Recycling

No guest room recycling because your hotel can afford to add recycling bins?  Look no further.  This low tech answer is as close as a paper bag.  When the GMIC Sustainable Meetings Conference convened at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, guests found this solution in their rooms which resulted in a twitter fury praising the hotel.

Sustainable event planners will definitely remember this idea the next time their conference hotel pushes back on in-room recycling.

For those not able to attend the event, check out the impressive playlist of sessions for virtual attendees

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!