Friday, September 30, 2011

57% Want To Align With Standards

"I have heard there are standards being developed and want to learn how to align my green meeting practices."

That's the top answer in a poll during the Meetings Focus webinar on September 28th, "Sustainability: Basic Green Techniques" by 57% of the over 530 participants. The other two optional answers, "I have no idea about the standards and want to know more" or "I need to get started using basic green meeting techniques" were nearly evenly split.

Let's hope this is a vote of confidence for our industry to finally have standardized sustainable event practices and the willingness to adopt them!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Poll Results on Hybrid Meetings

Today's GMIC webinar on Hybrid Meetings and Sustainability presented a case study of the 2011 Conference and talked about both challenges and opportunities of hybrid meetings. My interest was peaked with the polling question, "Have you planned a hybrid meeting before?"

Participants responded with:

40% Yes
40% No
20% I am planning a hybrid meeting now

As a data geek, it would be interesting to know how much this has changed in the past 12 to 18 months. Imagine how much it will change in the next 12 months? Our roles as meeting professionals continually shift. It also makes all the discussion surrounding the "$16 muffin" scandal in this week's news seem insignificant in the big picture.

Webinar: Basic Green Meeting Practices

When Tyler Davidson of MeetingsFocus asked me to present a webinar, he was very clear, "Planners are looking for basic practices to produce more sustainable meetings and events." Tyler has his finger on the pulse of the meeting industry and has come to the same conclusions which motivated me to write the recent simplifying sustainable meetings blog posts. Keep it simple!

Tomorrow, September 28th, I will present a full webinar on that very topic. Register to join us

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hybrid Meetings Reduce Carbon Footprint, Here's Proof!

Hybrid meetings are a new configuration with an inherent ability to reduce your event’s carbon footprint. The ability for participants to connect virtually without the high environmental cost of travel including air travel, ground transportation, accommodations, handouts and giveaways will be a vital aspect in the future of meetings. Our team has been tracking measurable data in an effort to reinforce the importance of hybrid meetings in producing more environmentally responsible events.

One client’s conference earlier this year provided some of our first data points. Data analyzed for Cisco Live included a list of attendees both virtual and actual by departing location, the average time spent online by virtual attendees, an average of 2.5 hotel room night stays and meeting space usage. The report shows, the actual attendees produced 11,943 metric tons of carbon dioxide omissions by traveling to and attending the event. The virtual attendees potentially avoided 7,549 metric tons of carbon dioxide omissions by not physically attending (this figure factors in online computer electricity usage). A significant environmental savings is realized for just one of the thousands of meetings taking place daily. The economic savings was also significant as well as the “wear and tear” of travel on individuals choosing to attend virtually.

If you haven’t taken a look at hybrid meetings for your organization, the time has come. Sustainability and technology are once again hand-in-hand.

Here is a link to the full article on hybrid meetings.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

How Event Sponsors Can Reduce Their Risk

If your organization is considering sponsoring an event, remember your image as a “good corporate citizen” is on the line. In today’s world, adding your name (and money) to an event, means you are endorsing both the content and the delivery. Participants embracing social media will quickly tell the story if they see unsustainable practices occurring. Several recent meeting industry events have been taken to task for their use of black plastic plates, excessive signage and stacks of handouts.

As a potential sponsor, reduce your risk with these questions for the event organizers:

  1. Do the organizers have sustainable policies?
  2. Is the event being planned using green meeting practices?
  3. What are they?
  4. Are the results of these efforts being measured?
  5. Is the event being audited by a third-party?
  6. Have the organizers calculated the carbon footprint?
  7. What have they done to minimize the footprint?
  8. How do they plan to measure and report on the environmental savings?
  9. Will the media be alerted?

By asking this series of quick questions about green practices before opening your wallet, you may save your company from an embarrassing situation.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Thanks, But I'd Rather Have a Drink

Full disclosure--this blog post was from a year ago. I am running in again because it pertains to our series on simplicity in sustainability and how we can make a difference, one practice at a time!

In an attempt to go green (but mostly to save money) we drastically reduced the number of conference bags ordered for EclipseCon this spring. At registration, instead of just handing them a conference bag, we asked the participants if they wanted one. They were also told they would receive an extra drink ticket if they refused the bag. Surprisingly (or not) more than 50% wanted a drink more than a bag.

This also allowed the conference to eliminate sponsored items getting pre-stuffed in the bags. Take a look at the areas we saved money:on purchasing and shipping of the bags (50% fewer),
  • on the cost of drayage with the decorator (lower poundage)
  • less exhibitor promotional materials shipped
  • minimized bag stuffing, labor costs
  • less trash produced
These savings more than offset the cost of a beverage and provided creative and fun solutions to the existing challenges we planners face!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What You Should Know About Recycling Plastic

BUYER BEWARE: This symbol with a number in the middle on the bottom of a plastic container doesn't necessarily mean it is easily recycled. It is simply a way to identify what type of plastic it is. Both as a consumer and as a meeting planner it is important to know what your food is served on(in) and how readily it can be kept out of the local landfill. Here is a quick guide for you...

  • #1 PETE or PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate): Used for clear beverage bottles. Widely recyclable, check with your local recycler.
  • #2 HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) : Used for colored bottles and jugs, yogurt containers and other tubs. Widely recyclable, check with your local recycler.
  • #3 PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride): Used in some cling wrap and bottles as well as pipes and other construction materials. Not widely recyclable.
  • #4 LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene): used for garbage bags, food storage bags, some cling wraps and bottles. Not widely recyclable.
  • #5 PP (Polypropylene): Used in butter tubs, baby bottles and other rigid containers. Not widely recyclable.
  • #6 PS (Polystryene): Used in foam trays, takeout containers, coolers and egg cartons (also those little black plates you see at banquets). Not widely recyclable. Recommended to avoid.
  • #7 Other (includes polycarbonate and mixed materials). This is a tough one. While some things in this category are not widely recyclable, biodegradable and compostable containers are often lumped into this "other" category. When you see #7, ask more questions.
Source: Real Money

Check with the venue or local hauler to determine what types of plastic are readily recyclable. As an example in my area, #1 and #2 plastic can recycle curbside, all others except #6 can be taken to a local recycling center. What about #6? Well, good luck finding anyplace to accept it unless you happen to have a freight car full of it.

Keep these numbers in mind when purchasing or ordering.