Thursday, June 30, 2011

C is for Creativity

How does creativity play into your conference's CSR projects? A question I hadn't asked until earlier this week when I participated in a project at Meetings Focus Live Event in San Antonio, Texas.

Having just presented a session about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for meetings and events, we walked directly to the San Antonio CVB to get started designing bags from conference banners.

The City and local decorators save conference banners, aisle signs and street banners from the landfill. Our charge was to cut them into a variety of patterns for messenger bags, cosmetic bags and even children and adult aprons. Later they would be sewn together and sold to benefit the Women's Pavilion. The seamstresses are currently unemployed (no thanks to a US company sending their sewing requirements overseas).

What peaked my interest is how much fun the volunteer participants had laying out the pattern on these huge pieces of vinyl to make really artful creations. The text, photos and colors make for very cool designs. So cool in fact, each of us hoped we could purchase the items we were designing. The creativity involved gave us renewed energy (on a hot Texas afternoon), made time pass quickly and started wonderful conversations among the volunteers.

Many of the past CSR projects I have been involved have some of those components, but the creativity piece has been missing. What a difference it made as a volunteer! In the future, I will definitely keep creativity high on my list when choosing a project.

P.S. If photos are available of the final products, I will happily post them. There is one BBQ apron designed from an "Aisle 600" sign with a huge "0" across the front in University of Texas colors, which would be priceless worn by the right chef!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Fun in the Sun

It is officially picnic time! When planning your summer events, don't forget to incorporate the same sustainable practices you use when planning your corporate events.

Pack your basket with china instead of disposable plates and use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins. Colorful bandanas as napkins spice up the meal!

Buy local food for your meals. Now is the time for wonderful fresh food--especially for seasonal produce. Challenge yourself to serve most of the items from within 100 miles. One trip to the farmer's market may check off all of the items on your list.

Serve beverages from pitchers or large containers instead of individual bottles. Isn't fresh lemonade better anyway?

Use LED lights for lighting up your evening outdoor celebrations. They will save money in the long run. While you are at it, put them on a timer for the rest of the summer too!

It's finally summer, let's get outside and enjoy nature!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Green = Green

book cover Saving Green by Going Green written by MeetGreenIt all started with the Five Myths of Green Meetings outlined in our early presentations. Some were easier to dispel than others such as "Myth #4 - only environmental groups are going green." Today, sustainability is a mainstream business strategy.

Myth #1 - Environmentally responsible meetings are too expensive," has been proven false, but continues to be a source of uncertainty for meeting and event managers. We get it! It is time for a step-by-step guide for saving money through green meeting practices.

Shawna, Amy and I developed a comprehensive workbook designed to walk you through the process of budgeting, procurement, tracking and reporting back to key stakeholders. This methodology has saved our clients $3.9 million since 2008 (we can prove that statement). The book will walk you through the process, providing budgeting analysis sheets, vendor request samples and reporting spreadsheets. It also cites real-life case study examples for those that learn like I do.

The workbook, Saving Green by Going Green will be available in mid-July. If you want to start the saving green right away, you can pre-order the book at a discount)

Note: I am always uncomfortable "tooting my own horn," but if you struggle with this piece of the triple bottom line, the workbook may very well be the answer. We are all on the sustainability journey together, take advantage of our map.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Let's Bottle His Enthusiasm

UUA's 2011 General Assembly is off and running this year in Charlotte. Two of our team members are onsite working with conference organizers to produce a sustainable conference and couldn't wait to share this recently discovered video. Here is one excited volunteer in his homemade video talking about 2010 composting...

Gotta love him!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Policy Template Helps You Meet Sustainable Event Standards

You asked for it! One common concern surfaced during the all six of the GMIC webinars I presented this year, the need for assistance developing a sustainability policy. The proposed APEX/ASTM Standards require both the planning organization and its suppliers/vendors to have a written sustainability policy in place as a key component.

Questions from the audience were understandable. How do I get started developing a policy? What should be included? How much detail is necessary? How can we also encompass other sustainable event guidelines?

The interest in this topic was heightened this week when the Convention Industry Council announced the standards had reached a major milestone with eight of the nine draft standards completing the consensus process, moving them toward final approval.

To answer the questions surrounding sustainability policies, we developed a Sustainability Policy template. The template was designed to help you develop your organization's policy and includes a proposed framework, explanations and examples. The format integrates elements proposed under ISO 20121. It can also be of assistance when reviewing sustainability policies of your suppliers.

If you don't already have a sustainability policy, we invite you to download the template and get started today.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Some Like It Hot

Many of you may remember the legendary Hotel del Coronado from Marilyn Monroe's film, Some Like it Hot. Others have held their own legendary meetings there. Either way, when an 123 year old hotel does what it takes to receive Green Seal Certification, we take notice.

Here is a partial list of the changes they made:

  • Replaced all outdoor trash cans with dual-use receptacles for trash and recycling
  • Recycle fry oil for use in the production of biofuels
  • Retrofit every guest room for energy-efficient lighting
  • Installed ceiling fans in the guest rooms to cut back on air conditioning usage
  • Planted an onsite garden for fresh produce and herbs
  • Implemented an energy management system to control the HVAC and lighting.

Congratulations to "The Del" on becoming the oldest US Hotel to receive this certification! Here's the full story

A Green Seal certification is one of our most important criteria for choosing a property. Check out the list of other properties

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

And The Winner Is...

photo of 2010 Canada Media Marketplace for MeetGreen
The IMEX/GMIC Green Meetings Small to Medium Meeting Award went to Canada Media Marketplace for its 2010 San Francisco conference. 2010 marks the third year of Canada Media Marketplace’s event sustainability initiative. With each year this event has taken additional steps to balance the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit.

Notable sustainability achievements for Canada Media Marketplace 2010 include:

• Destination selection based on sustainability criteria, which resulted in moving the west coast event from Los Angeles to San Francisco. In addition to meeting sustainability goals this also aligned with improving accessibility for media attendees and reducing overall air travel.
• Ensuring 100% of event contracts included explicit sustainability requirements, up from 66% in 2009.
• Eliminated ground transportation by designing a walkable event neighborhood, with receptions held near the Marketplace venue.
• 64% of waste diverted from landfill through composting and recycling - the event’s best diversion yet! This kept over 3 tons of waste from landfill.
• Minimum 60% of menu items purchased within 100 miles of San Francisco for all functions, exceeding 70% local food items for the opening reception. Another record!
• 25% of food provided was certified organic, with an additional 50% purchased from farms that practice organic agriculture.
• Donating left over materials, including furniture, food, soaps and amenities to local charities in San Francisco through the hotel non-profit collaborative and Food Runners. Since 2008 Media Marketplace has provided close to $5000 in donated materials to charity.
• 100% of venue energy and media travel was offset. This amounted to just over 83 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

Congratulations to all, it was a well deserved honor. Shawna McKinley, MeetGreen Project Manager, applauds Sally Petrigac, On the Mark Productions and Melinda Wunder, Creative Conventions, for their vital roles in the sustainable 2010 Event.

The full case study can be found here

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Not So Gentle Reminder

photo of a clear cut forest taken by MeetGreen
This was a living forest a few weeks ago near my house.
Today, it is clear cut chaos.

It is also a reminder to reduce paper usage at events. If paper must be consumed, please check to ensure it contains post-consumer recycled content. Don't forget to ask about the beverage napkins and bathroom supplies at event venues as well.

Need I say more?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Vancouver Takes Silver

In 1998, I walked into the Vancouver Convention Centre on a site inspection for a technology conference. My first request was for a copy of their environmental policies. Without missing a beat, the Convention Centre representative pulled a sheet of paper out of his packet and reviewed them with me. It was the first time ANYONE had been able to respond to my request without returning to their office and sending the policies at a much later date.

They will always have a special place in my little green heart, so when I learned they had taken the IMEX/GMIC 2011 Green Supplier Silver Award, I was thrilled. Environmental sustainability is how they do business--every day for every client for years.

Congratulations to the entire team at the Vancouver Convention Centre! The recognition is well deserved.