Thursday, January 21, 2010

Taxing Trash

Another glamorous day in the life of a green meeting planning team! When the UUA General Assembly planning team went to Minneapolis on a site, they didn't stop at the typical "wine and dining front of the house" experience. Oh no, they were thorough and even went on a tour of the Waste Management "Recycle America" plant. I am always harping about how important it is to make sure the recycling effort is actually happening and this group really did their homework.

While on the tour they learned in Minnesota there's an incentive to recycle. It seems Minnesota has state and county taxation of trash which heavilyy incentivizes recycling. In fact in some counties, commercial customers pay up to 53% tax on non-recyclables!! The base residential rate is 9.75%.

Now there is a business case for green meeting practices!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

To See What Condition Our Condition Is In

As we begin 2010 it is time to assess what is happening in business and in meetings. How are businesses connecting people? Are sustainability and green meeting practices still relevant? What have we learned and what are we learning? All questions we ask ourselves.

We share with you our thoughts in the 2010 State of the Industry Report

We welcome all comments and discussion!

Monday, January 18, 2010

How Much is That in Elephants?

It is always easier for we humans to understand how big, small, heavy, etc. things are if given a visual. So we were trying to do just that to help Oracle OpenWorld better express the impact of avoiding the use of one million plastic bottles in 2008 and 2009.

Our own Shawna Mckinley, Data Poet of MeetGreen, determined that one million empty plastic water bottles weigh approximately 15 metric tonnes. And 15 tonnes can be compared to the weight of:
· 9 VW beetles
· 15 dairy cows
· 210 humans
· 2 elephants

While I am having great fun with this blog post, it is a good reminder that converting our efforts to visuals to tell the story does really help. Other examples is to talk about paper savings in trees instead of pounds of paper or saving greenhouse gases by the amount of cars it would take off the road. You get the picture!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Reason to Believe

or at least attend. The Green Meeting Industry Council's Sustainable Meetings Conference will take place in Denver, CO February 9-11, 2010. Here are the top 10 reasons why this is a must-attend event...

10. Green Strategies Save Money: Green meeting specialists know how to save money onsite - by cutting waste, working with local suppliers, and proving that the "eco" in eco-efficiency is about economy as well as ecology.

9. Earning Customer Loyalty: A sustainable meeting builds customer loyalty, showing participants that their organization cares about the bigger picture-even in hard times.

8. Improving the Onsite Experience: The skills and knowledge behind a sustainable meeting can help you create a smarter, more interactive learning experience for participants.

7. Competitive Advantage for Vendors: Hoteliers and other vendors who demonstrate green knowledge and performance gain competitive advantage in an economy where any advantage is crucial to the bottom line.

6. Measuring the Bottom Line: Green performance metrics can only succeed environmentally if they pay off financially. So green measurement is a great way to assess the return your organization receives from its meetings investment.

5. Managing and Mitigating Risk: Leading organizations like Oracle, The Gap, the American Institute of Architects, and the U.S. Green Building Council know that greening is the "right" thing to do. But it also mitigates risk. For top associations and Fortune 500 businesses, sustainable meetings are a great way to demonstrate good citizenship and corporate social responsibility (CSR).

4. Striking the Balance: Meeting professionals have been struggling to find a balance between live and virtual meetings and to cope with the mounting challenges surrounding air travel. The 2010 Sustainable Meetings Conference is a place to explore solutions that keep the participant experience front and center.

3. Learning the Standard: The program for the 2010 Sustainable Meetings Conference is built around the green meetings standard that will soon be released by the U.S. Accepted Practices Commission (APEX). Learning the practicalities of this detailed new standard will be an advantage for every organization that participates in the conference.

2. Building a Network: The annual Sustainable Meetings Conference draws a network of senior, experienced meeting professionals who've built their green checklists into strategic action plans that support their companies' core values and objectives. Attending the conference is the first step in making these thought leaders and decision-makers a part of your network.

1. Building Momentum: This conference is about getting green done! On the first day, the Future Leaders' Forum and the Leaders' Track will both deliver action goals for the year ahead. At the closing roundtable, GMIC will invite leading meeting experts and association leaders to discuss next steps for building a sustainable industry.For more information, visit

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Bragging Rights

The Meet Green Forum has a thread asking members to brag about their "Biggest Green Accomplishment of 2009." This post came from one of our team members (which I guess makes it extra bragging rights for me). I actually chose to share it though because it is an excellent example of one meeting manager's experience in changing to a more sustainable product. Thanks, Britta!

"I championed getting one of our clients to switch over to a more sustainable name badge holder. For the badge holder, we chose the EcoEndure Biodegradable Polypropylene badge, which is biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable. It was made of a lighter-weight plastic that was perfect for a short lived event. And--bonus--it was much cheaper than our usual badge that was made of recycled polypropylene!

There are so many "green" options out there for these products, it's really a matter of striking a balance of what will work best for attendees and what is best for the earth.

The 1000 attendees loved the holders (they were printed lightly with the words “Recyclable, Biodegradable, and Recyclable) and many of them commented that they were glad to see we had chosen a more sustainable option. They held up well through the course of the conference, and they ended up saving the client money. I’d call
that a green success!"

Feel free to join the forum and brag too!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Scuttle the Shuttle

Nearly everyone made the New Year's resolution to "get more exercise." I say, we conference planners, help them along the way!

More and more of the conferences we manage have either eliminated shuttle service or increased the distance participants walk to the meeting site from their hotel. I have shared some of the creative ways to do this and now I want to share another more excellent idea.

The Endocrine Society held their Annual Meeting in Washington DC and skipped the shuttles in favor of the city's public transportation system and walkability. We are talking 9,000 attendees and exhibitors staying in 25 hotels. The result--"nary a complaint" according to the November, 2009, article in PCMA CONVENE. This saved their conference budget "six figures" and probably helped the figures (at least the health) of their conference community. Well done!

Read all about it