Friday, July 29, 2011

Want Happier Employees?

Photo of happy employee taken by Nancy Zavada of MeetGreen
According a new research report by the Society for Human Resource Management, firms with sustainability programs reported the following results:

• Improved employee morale—55 percent
• More-efficient business processes—43 percent
• Stronger public image—43 percent
• Increased employee loyalty—38 percent

This study took a deeper look at organizations that support sustainability programs, versus those that do not from an employee relations point of view. Source: Inc., May 10, 2011

It probably wouldn't hurt to give them the afternoon off too!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dollars and $ense

"For a small 300-person event name badges are not a huge cost. Perhaps $100 at most. But what if you could eliminate this cost and create a cool sponsorship idea? This is exactly what Canada Media Marketplace did.

Canadian destinations participating in the event are always looking for interesting and unique ways to enhance their profile with travel writers invited to attend this event in hopes it might generate positive press for them. In 2009, Ontario Tourism had a brilliant idea: sponsor handmade name badges by Toronto-based designer James Fowler. What better reminder of their destination than a beautiful piece of art hanging on the neck of every attendee?

To make the story even greener, badges were made from reclaimed container plastics and textile trimmings that would have otherwise been discarded. The name badges were a hit, and are still in use three years later, multiplying that $100 savings forward a year at a time!"

Excerpt from Saving Green by Going Green

Monday, July 25, 2011

Action Speaks Louder Than Words: Count On It!

American Airlines just announced they have ordered aircraft which will make them the nation's most fuel efficient airline. In this article, the company spokesman Ed Martelle is quoted as saying, "The environmental footprint improvement really comes from those fuel efficiency gains. If we're using less fuel, we're dumping less carbon into the atmosphere." Once again, saving money (on fuel) saves the environment (carbon footprint).

I learned this good news from an environmental news service and that the airlines has a "goal of improving its greenhouse gas intensity." I was very surprised. When I flew on American Airlines several weeks ago, I was overwhelmed by the amount of styrofoam and plastic distributed during the inflight service. I also noticed the empty cans and newspapers were going into the same bag as the trash with no effort to sort them for recycling. As a passenger, I was convinced this airline didn't care a bit about the environment.

How does the average passenger know American Airlines has sustainability goals? Does the passenger's experience make them feel good about selecting an environmental conscious airline?

This is exactly what happens to companies who don't understand their sustainability initiatives must be embedded in all of their actions and no where is it more noticeable than in meetings and events. If your meeting audience does not experience what the CEO is standing on stage touting, you are at risk. As I warned several posts ago, "radical transparency" will now hold you accountable.

What do your organization's meetings demonstrate to the average participant? Are they in alignment with the message you are presenting?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday Funny: Portlandia's Plastic Petticoats

Only in Portland would you find audience members such as these festively dressed citizens at a City Council Meeting. During this important meeting, "the Portland City Council unanimously approved an ordinance that prohibits plastic shopping bags at checkstands of major grocers and certain big-box stores. The new rules, designed to curb pollution, take effect Oct. 15." source: The Oregonian

We are all excited about this decision, apparently not as much as these folks though. For the full story,

Thursday, July 21, 2011

UUA General Assembly: What Worked And What Didn't

Conferences engaging in green meeting practices have different levels of success depending on a variety of factors: city, meeting venue, hotels, caterer, participants, etc. Our long-time clients such as The Unitarian Universalist Association, give us an opportunity to work in a variety of destinations and try our hardest to make the attendee experience as environmentally responsible as possible. Some years we have greater success than others.

This link leads you to an article by a member talking about what worked and what didn't during the 2011 General Assembly

The morale of the story here your best, don't be discouraged if you can't achieve 100% success, and openly share your experience so we may all learn from each other!

The UU Volunteers are our shining example. Thank you for the continued inspiration!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How To Impress a Green Planner

Want to make a green meeting manager swoon during their visit to your hotel? Interested in a new version of the VIP treatment? Want to avoid potential "landmines?" We offer up these tips for hotels based on our actual site inspections over the past six months...

DO prepare your sustainability policies and present them without being prompted
DON'T copy those multi-page policies single-sided on glossy, virgin paper
DO show them the back-of-house recycling system
DON'T turn on the huge TV (to the relaxing channel) and leave on the lights as a welcome
DO have a sheet and towel reuse program that works when they use it
DON'T leave unrequested ice in the bucket twice a day in an city with Level 2 drought water restrictions
DO ask if they want a morning paper instead of automatically hanging one on the doorknob in a plastic bag
DON'T forget to tell the rest of your staff you have environmental policies
DO check the room to make sure the light bulbs are energy efficient, they will
DON'T hesitate to take them to the employee cafeteria to see that management and housekeeping are treated equally
DO have some way to recycle in the sleeping room
DON'T have styrofoam cups with the in-room coffee maker
DO consider gifts aren't required, but if given should be useable and sustainable. Favorite example: a notebook made from post-consumer water bottles/food containers with hotel marketing materials made especially to fit into the front flap.

As you know, being a good host is learning about your guest and making them comfortable on the road.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Listen To Your Brain

The Top Brain Meeting Snacks, according to Tipster in the July 2011 issue Of PCMA's Convene are:
  • Water
  • Granola
  • Nuts
  • Blueberries
  • Mangos
  • Bananas
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Whole-grain breads
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Dark chocolate
Hmmmm, fresh food for the brain, good for the environment, and possibly local. Everyone wins...especially when you include the dark chocolate!

Study from "The Science of Food for Thought: Enhancing Meetings Through Food" white paper.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Are You At Risk?

If your organization still believes it can choose whether or not to be transparent about social and environmental issues, you probably are at risk.

Enter, "radical transparency" as defined by Chris Laslo and Nadya Zhexembayeva in their book Embedded Sustainability, The Next Big Competitive Advantage,

Radical transparency is the ability to fully, accurately, and instantly obtain information about a company or a product at any stage of its life cycle, from raw material extraction to product end-of-life. There is a technological component based on virtual communication tools that make it possible for anyone anywhere to "see" into a company or product. There is also a behavioral component coming from rising awareness of ecological and social issues. Greater awareness is leading to the desire by consumers, investors, and employees to know how companies and their products are impacting the world around them.

No longer can we control the message sent out to our key stakeholders. In today's world of instant communication, your organization's practices are just one tweet, video on YouTube or blog away. The meeting and event industry is readily adopting the use of social media as a way of involving virtual participants or increasing the visibility of the conference.

For example, several weeks ago I saw participants tweet, "this conference is handing out too much paper" and "stop using disposable plates and cups" along with the conference hashtag while at a meeting industry event. That put me on notice. Like it or not, welcome to radical transparency. We can't change this trend, but we can change our policies and practices.

So, are you at risk?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Garden ROI

Yes, I enjoy eating fresh, local food. In the summertime, this means right from my own garden. I grow lettuce, spinach, onions, beans, peppers and tomatoes. The trick here in Oregon's cool and sometimes rainy summers, is the salad ingredients aren't ready to harvest at the same time.

For instance, when the spring onions, spinach and lettuce are ready, the tomato plants are still sporting their spiked yellow blooms. When the tomatoes are ripe and juicy, the lettuce and spinach have long been harvested. My dream salad with ALL my ingredients in one bowl just isn't possible in my area, but I have some incredible meals with the daily crop which lasts long into October. It is healthy, organic, and pesticide free food, but it is also CHEAP!

You know me, I just can't resist telling you about the "business case" too, even one for my garden. I spent less than $10 this year on the starts and seeds needed for the entire summer. In lettuce alone, to date I have harvested 36 heads of butter lettuce and 12 heads of red leaf lettuce. Not a bad ROI and there's more to come! Last year, my cost was less than one penny per heirloom tomato.

No wonder some of the best chefs in our industry have started to grow their own gardens!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Beef or Chicken?

Your answer may be one of pure taste or a variety of other personal factors that compel each of us to make decisions about our food. It is now becoming clear, there are also the environmental factors of food production to take into consideration. The following information may help when making sustainable choices about both your own next meal and menus you choose for your meetings and events.

Note: I would also venture an educated guess that the higher the footprint, the higher cost of the meal. We have been successful in saving money by working directly with the chef on delicious, satisfying vegetarian lunches for all our guests.

Thanks to Environmental Leader for these statistics.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Notes From the Road

During a recent site inspection trip, Mary Cameron, Project Manager at MeetGreen, reported back on the sustainability initiatives she had witnessed. During her visits to hotels in Boston, Atlanta and Washington, DC, she noted a marked increase in green practices and the properties were at ease sharing their environmentally responsible policies. One hotel in Boston even had soap dispensers in the shower! I was relieved to hear the update as my recent trips to the Midwest have been rather depressing (in a sustainable meetings way).

While not on the topic of sustainability, her favorite "thinking outside of the box" story was:

During the site inspection trip, Mary was meeting with our client in the Concierge Lounge when the Manager saw Mary's IPhone background had a photo of her new kitty. The woman commented on how cute the kitten was and asked if Mary would forward the photo for her collection. Mary proudly sent her the photo.

When Mary returned to her room later that evening, greeting her on the nightstand was a sweet, framed photo of her kitten. Mary was impressed and touched by such a kind gesture.

Mary has shared the story about Catherine Bolling at the InterContinental Atlanta with our staff, other meeting planners and the world in general. You just can't buy that type of PR!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Prove It, You Say?

Saving Green By Going Green, our newest book, was written to help you learn how to incorporate sustainable meeting practices to save your organization money. We promised you will save money and now it is time to prove it! Here is just one of the examples covered in the book:

Eat well. Watch the food-and-beverage industry trends and you will see quickly that what people want is fresh, healthy food. They are asking for local, organic fare and enjoy knowing where it is coming from. In addition to being good for your body, it is also good for the environment and the local community. Get back to basics. In Portland, Oregon, the local newspaper investigated three examples associated with delivering a pound of fresh blueberries to points of sale.

1. Air freight from Chile. You pay about $18 per pound (berries typically come in 4.4 ounce containers and sell for $5.) This does not include customs clearance or ground handling on arrival in the U.S., which could add 20 cents a pound to the cost.

2. Ground transportation. You pay about $3.50 per pound. This is based on a refrigerated trailer traveling within 100 miles following major multiple retailer channels to the point of sale.

3. Local farmers market direct delivery. You pay about $2.50 per pound. This is based on a shipment originating 20 miles away traveling in a non-refrigerated pickup truck. (The Oregonian, Sunday, August 10, 2009)

Saving money can come from simple ideas like by serving whole fruit instead of paying additional money for the labor to produce sliced fruit platters or having an iced tea and lemonade break served out of colorful pitchers instead of individual cans of soda and bottled water.
There are more great ideas where that came's a link to more information