Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Recycled Resolutions

I looked back at my 2010 resolutions and realized I had been pretty successful at some and others continue to be iffy at best. So being a recycler at heart, I will use this great list once again and see if I can't tick off a few more. Join me, won't you?

1. Set up a Green Team for my meetings and events. That's right--I don’t have to do it all alone.
2. Have recycling stations at every meeting and measure the amount of waste diverted from the landfill. I will let key stakeholders what has been accomplished.
3. Order seafood only from sustainable fisheries. No more farmed salmon for my guests.
4. Include green clauses in all of my contracts with venues, hotels, caterers and transportation companies.
5. Hold virtual meetings when I don’t really need to travel to accomplish the same task.
6. Look for ways to hold face-to-face meetings that will keep my participants healthier e.g. serve fresh and local food, networking time outdoors, or schedule time for exercise.
7. Not serve any food on disposable service ware.
8. Join an organization such as the Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) or attend a conference to learn more about sustainable practices from colleagues.
9. Choose a venue close to hotels, restaurants and entertainment so participants can walk instead of take shuttles.
10. Ask caterers to serve beverages in bulk instead of individually packaged such water, juices and even soft drinks.
11. Thank the housekeeper for not replacing my towels and sheets everyday when I travel.
12. Mentor someone just starting out in green meetings.
13. Donate all the leftover food to a food bank.
14. Ask all my vendors for their environmental policies.
15. Look for destinations that already have green vendors and venues in place to make my job easier.
16. Not print the date on my signage so it can be reused for the next event.
17. Always ask for fair-trade coffee.
18. Keep track of the financial savings for all of the green practices and become a hero!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Set Your Compass for 2012

photo of a Rockaway, Oregon beach fence by Nancy Zavada
Nearly finished with 2011, I am pondering what 2012 will bring. My desire is to make wise decisions to propel myself, MeetGreen, and the meeting and event industry toward an increasingly sustainable future.

I have decided the following quote, by John Wesley, will serve as my compass:

"Do all the good you can
By all the means you can
In all the ways you can
In all the places you can
At all the times you can
To all the people you can
As long as ever you can."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How Can I Save Money On My Next Event?

Let's see, perhaps we can...

  • Serve beverages in pitchers like lemonade instead of individual soft drinks
  • Reduce the size of our program
  • Eliminate the conference bag
  • Meet in a location that doesn't require shuttle service
  • Offer a virtual option for speakers and participants
  • Provide one vegetarian meal per day
  • Ask exhibitors not to bring handouts to reduce our garbage hauling
  • Guarantee our food with close and accurate numbers
  • Take advantage of the discounts hotel chains are offering if we run a green meeting
  • and the list goes on!

What one thing can you easily accomplish in 2012 to save money on your events?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Give the Gift of Education, I Did

photo of hiking trail in Nehalem Oregon by Nancy Zavada
I believe the most important way to secure our future is to teach the next generation. When it comes to the future of the planet and the future of the meeting industry it is vital. I also believe in putting my money where my mouth is, so last year I personally funded the first full student scholarship to the GMIC 2011 Sustainable Meetings Conference.

Gianna L. Stone, San Diego State University, was the first recipient and in her Student's Perspective she says, "I learned more in three days than words can explain...GMIC, through this conference, opened my eyes to sustainability in a whole new light."

Today, I wrote the check to fund a scholarship for a student to attend the 2012 Sustainable Meetings Conference. If you are able to give back to our community and make the difference in the life of a student, I ask you to join me.

If you are a student, you are the future! Please watch the GMIC website for details on applying for the 2012 scholarships.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

You Do The Math

photo of strawberries by Nancy Zavada
According to the National Restaurant Association's list of Top 20 Menu Trends of 2012 (as reported by Successful Meetings) sustainable food takes the cake for the upcoming year.

Take a quick count of how many on this list are also green meeting initiatives. Hint: you will need both hands.

According to the NRA's survey, the top menu trends for next year will be:

1. Locally sourced meats and seafood
2. Locally grown produce
3. Healthful kids' meals
4. Hyper-local items
5. Sustainability as a culinary theme
6. Children's nutrition as a culinary theme
7. Gluten-free/food allergy-conscious items
8. Locally produced wine and beer
9. Sustainable seafood
10. Whole grain items in kids' meals
11. Newly fabricated cuts of meat
12. Farm/estate-branded items
13. Food trucks/street food
14. Artisan spirits
15. House-made/artisan ice cream
16. Health/nutrition as a culinary theme
17. Non-traditional fish
18. Fruit/vegetable kids' side items
19. Children's mini-meals (i.e. smaller versions of adult menu items)
20. Culinary cocktails

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ready to Tackle Food Waste?

Ready to save £ 724 million a year?

A report, entitled "The Composition of Waste Disposed by the UK Hospitality Industry" estimates that over 3.4 million tonnes of waste is generated by hotels, pubs and restaurants every year. The report, published by the Waste and Resources Action Programme, says detailed research shows nearly 80% of this could be recycled with food waste representing a "particular opportunity." The Hospitality Industry can play a leading role in the US as well, but it means change and we sometimes struggle with that.

Take for instance, Portland, where we recently began a home composting program to capture food waste. It is hauled away with our yard debris--weekly, I might add. While some of my neighbors have embraced and adapted to the change, others are fighting it as if garbage is one of our unalienable rights. Seriously, folks, it is food waste!

Here's hoping this change is easier to tolerate in the Hospitality Industry as it means substantial savings right off the bottom line.

Friday, December 9, 2011

How Serious Is Climate Change?

Need another reason to institute sustainability policies into your meetings? Do your events reflect an organization with the same concerns as its participants?

Take a look at the chart below and see what your event demographics believe. Too bad it isn't sorted by age group as well, that would be very telling. From other studies I have read, the younger the audience, the more concerned they are about climate change.

Thanks for Environmental Leader for this chart.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Which Way To SustainLand?

This weekend I had the pleasure of taking my niece for her first visit to the theme park of her dreams. As the organization is always touting their sustainability initiatives, I was looking forward to the trip on several levels. Imagine my surprise when I found the following:

  • Polystyrene cups for all beverages
  • Plastic cutlery
  • Individual condiment packets
  • Side dishes served in individual plastic clam shells
  • Minimal drinking fountains (I found one in three days) which meant I had to purchase bottled water instead of refilling my reusable bottle
  • Recycling available for bottles and cans only and not next to every trash can
  • Staff members with polystyrene food containers
  • All the trinkets in the many stores were labeled "Made in China"
  • Plastic bags used exclusively to put the trinkets in
  • Even the cotton candy was packaged in plastic bags or plastic buckets
Based on these daily practices serving tens of thousands of guests, they may want to consider some making changes to Tomorrowland!