Thursday, February 26, 2009

We're Talking Trash

The Green Meeting Industry Council's Leadership Track just spent the last three days talking about sustainability, green practices, advocacy, measurement, social issues, carbon and yes, trash! Incredible conversations between really passionate professionals in our industry. How can we transform the industry? How can we make a difference? How can everyone participate in action=sustainability?

So we are issuing a challenge. We are challenging everyone in our industry to reduce waste this year and to divert as much waste as possible from the landfills and collectively report it! We believe we can divert ONE MILLION TONS IN 2009!

So here we go, start measuring your waste diversion at conferences, venues, events, hotels, universities (everyplace we travel and meet). Start collecting your data because very shortly GMIC will launch a site to report on your recycling numbers and issue a challenge to other conferences, events and venues to do the same. An award awaits the winner, perhaps the "Top Of The Heap Award?"

More details will follow in the next several weeks!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"Lead Or Be Pushed"

That is the message from L. Hunter Lovins, keynote speaker at the Greening The Hospitality Industry Conference Lovins of Natural Capital Solutions, discussed the "sustainability imperative" business is facing today and how vitally important it is to an organization's survival.

Instead of the triple bottom line, she recommends the Integrated Bottom Line which includes:

-Financial performance
-Ability to drive innovation
-Cutting risk
-Attraction and retention of the best talent
-Labor productivity
-Market share
-Supply chair and stakeholder management
-Reducing distrust

Thought-provoking ideas for further discussion throughout the conference!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Green Meeting Industry Council Thrives!

Wow! The enthusiasm at the conference is amazing and we are really just getting started. Here are some highlights so far about GMIC itself...

-Membership has increased over 200% during the past year
-Supporting business members took the largest leap at a nearly 400% increase
-The Atlanta chapter is up and running with Chicago and South Florida/Caribbean "in formation"
-Seven more chapters are close behind including Europe and Mexico
-Nine additional locations have expressed an interest and are pursuing chapter discussions.

They are also launching some really cool products that will enhance our ability to connect as a community and plan sustainable meetings. More about those when they are formally announced.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Leaving On A Jet Plane

My bags are packed...and I am ready to the Green Meeting Industry Council Conference in Pittsburgh this week. I just took a look at the participant list and WOW, I am honored to be among this esteemed group. We will certainly have breakthroughs in leading this industry towards a more sustainable future.

I will be blogging from the conference as I teach, listen, learn and collaborate. If it is like past years, I will come back inspired and excited about the future. Now more than ever, green meeting practices are a integral strategy to each of our organization's success.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Questions to Ask About Sustainable Food

As meeting managers, we order food in very large quantities. So, the decisions we make about food what food to serve impacts both the health of our participants and the health of our planet --on a larger scale than the average consumer. Here are some questions to ask when selecting menus...

-Is it local?
-Is it in season?
-Is it organic? (Ask for a minimum of 20% at no additional cost)
-Did it come from a sustainable fishery?
-Do you have vegetarian dishes that even meat eaters will love?
-Are the condiments served in bulk instead of individual packets?
-Is the coffee fair-trade and shade grown?

We find that enrolling the Chef in these questions usually gets them excited about the opportunity to provide unique, fresh ideas for what otherwise would be the standard "chicken dinner".

Monday, February 16, 2009

Questions to Ask During A Site Inspection

You probably all have checklists for site inspections of conference centers, convention centers and other meeting venues. Here are a few green meeting questions to add to the list!

-What are the venue's environmental policies? Including energy conservation practices?
-How is the staff trained to implement these policies?
-Do you have low-flow toilets and other water savings devices in restrooms?
-Do you purchase environmentally responsible cleaning products?
-What do you recycle? What is your diversion rate?
-What mass transit lines serve the property?
-Has the property been certified by a third-party? Which one(s)?

And most importantly--Can I see the back of house areas where the sorting and recycling actually takes place?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Questions To Ask About Promotional Products

I had such a great response with my earlier "Questions to ask" blog that I thought I would do a series of them about different facets of green meeting practices. Today, it is time to focus on promotional products. Thanks to our resident expert, Mary Cameron, for these questions.

Is this product something worth keeping? (If not, it’s just contributing to the land fill.)

What is the ecological footprint? For example if it’s a conference bag:
-Where was the bag fabric produced?
-Where was the handle strap materials produced?
-Where is the zipper produced?
-Where is it assembled?
-What inks are used?
-Are these materials sustainable? Recycled, organic, etc.

What is the packaging involved in the product – is there a way for the packaging to be more environmentally responsible? For example not utilizing poly packaging for shirts; and using biodegradable packing materials.

Could you make your item non-dated? – so you could use it for multiple functions (or years)
What are the environmental practices the vendors you work with are using in their businesses?

Is there a choice of production locations that would mean less transportation required? (For example do they have the option of ordering from a warehouse on the west coast versus the east coast.)

Is it possible for this item to be made in your country? What are the labor conditions where it is made?

I urge each of you to ask a lot of questions. We are finding the promotional products world to be a greenwashing nightmare right now.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Questions Every Event Sponsor Should Ask

During the past several weeks, the media has been full of organizations being taken to task for sponsoring events seen as wasteful or excessive (you know who they are). As a sponsor, it is a reminder of how your image becomes closely linked with the event--good or bad. When considering sponsoring a meeting or event now more than ever your good reputation is on the line. You will probably want to ask a few questions of the event organizers.

Our resident sponsorship expert, Mary Peters, has put together a quick list of questions you should be asking about green practices before opening your wallet.

1) Do the organizers have sustainable policies? What are they?
2) Is the event being planned using green meeting guidelines such as those developed by the Convention Industry Council?
3) Are the results of these efforts being measured?
4) Is the event being audited by a third-party?
5) Have the organizers calculated the carbon footprint? What have they done to minimize the footprint?

A little due diligence may keep you out of the spotlight!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Really?...A Sold Out Conference?

With all of the bad news about how low attendance is at conferences this winter, there is a bright spot. The "2009 State of Green Business Forum" held in San Francisco, CA today is sold out and overflowing! Folks are hungry for more information on what green means to their businesses and their future.

Along with the conference, published its annual report today. The report found many reasons for optimism, according to the authors. Green building is on the rise, spurring new technologies that save energy and money while creating more healthful workplaces. There is a green race taking place in the automobile industry, with every major manufacturer planning to introduce electric vehicles. The leading consumer product makers and retailers are starting to rigorously assess the environmental impact of their products using sophisticated metrics, sending signals up the supply chain that tomorrow's products will need to hew to higher levels of environmental responsibility.

Green business activity is continuing to grow during a down economy. To download a free report,