Wednesday, March 28, 2012

On the Road Again

photo of travel mug by Nancy Zavada
This re-useable cup was given to me at a GMIC Conference over five years ago by the good folks in Toronto. Just like Shawna's favorite mug, it has traveled with me far and wide. This mug is cracked and the plastic is scratched so it is getting hard to read, but it still turns from blue to white whenever it is full of really hot water which has the added benefit of making sure I don't burn myself.

This travel trooper has been with me in three different countries and countless states. It has been on stage for all sorts of presentations, sat in on round table discussions, and kept me company while blogging. I bet it could teach sustainable meetings without my help.

My rough calculations lead me to believe it has saved nearly 1,000 disposable cups and water bottles from the landfill. Best of all, our partnership is not through yet as we pack up for the 2012 season.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Is Your Supply Chain Green? What to Ask.

How can you tell if your supply chain is sustainable or making plans to be sustainable? Well, it all starts with "the ask."

The only way to know is to ask the questions during the RFP process you already use. Decide what practices are vital to your organization and what practices (if not already in place) vendors should be working towards. In meetings and events, many times vendors are in close contact with our key stakeholders such as exhibitors, sponsors and participants. Their green meeting practices reflect on the organization.

Here's a list of questions to get you started:

  1. Does your organization have a written sustainability policy? Can you send it to me?
  2. What is your sustainable purchasing policy?
  3. How many of your products are environmentally preferable?
  4. Do you purchase environmentally responsible products? What percentage?
  5. Are your materials and/or labor sourced locally? What percentage?
  6. Do you have a plan to minimize packaging?
  7. Do you have a third party certification or meet the criteria outlined the in APEX/ASTM Standard for this sector?
  8. How do you track and measure your performance?

Make your supply chain decisions based on the vendor who can provide the most sustainable product along with the usual factors such as cost, availability, accessibility, etc. Don't forget to do due diligence and include a measurement of their performance in the contract.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

CSR Project Idea for World Water Day

Every day, woman and children throughout Africa must walk an average of 3.1 miles to find fresh water. They then carry home a five gallon bucket of their days water supply on their shoulders or head. Nearly 1 billion people don't have access to clean, safe drinking water--almost none of them reside in the US. according to Martin Barrett, Portland Roasting Company and Walk for Water Event Sponsor.

The Walk for Water Event is bringing this crisis home to Portland on Saturday March 24th with a 3.1 mile walk or run (complete with water). The Oregon Chapter of GMIC is fielding a team to participate. If you want to make a commitment to join them and be part of the solution, contact Jenny or Lila. Note: Martin says the carrying the water is optional.

This type of event makes it easy for your organization to get involved in a CSR project. Think about fielding your own corporate team at an event in your community. What could be easier?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Hey Baby, What's Your Diversion Rate?

Just like the old "fern bars" of my early days when, "What's your sign?" was a frequently asked question, the newest version of this opening line for sustainable planners may be about your venue's diversion rate. You know, the amount of waste diverted from the landfill during/after an event.

If you can't answer at least 40%, you won't be rockin' the new Level One APEX/ASTM Standards for Exhibits. That's right, the Level One requirement is a minimum 40% diversion rate for the show floor. This question is a sure thing, because the planner is required to include this request in the RFP, in their contract and then prove it happened.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

APEX/ASTM Exhibits Standard...Ready, Set, Go!

Today I studied the APEX/ASTM Exhibits Standard, aka Standard Specification for Evaluation and Selection of Exhibits for Environmentally Sustainable Meetings, Events, Trade Shows and Conference, and I have to say, "Wow, here we go. The time for talk is over!"

Exhibits are complicated events when you take into account the communication required between the planner, event venue, general services contractor and exhibitors. Exhibits also potentially have huge environmental footprints in areas of waste, energy consumption and purchasing making sustainable practices vitally important. Take both of those ingredients and toss them together and then ensure that everything be covered in both the RFP and contracts. "Wow, we asked for this?"

Here's the good news...the APEX/ASTM Standards for Level One in Exhibits all seem quite reasonable and provide a checklist approach. The requirement to put it in all contracts is necessary for success. It is also good news that we are all finally playing from the same game book--we can finally define a green exhibit hall.

Here's my advice..take it slowly and don't try to accomplish everything at once. As a planner, I would seek out both venues and vendors who already comply with Level One. It will make your job much easier. As a venue/vendor, I would be working hard to comply with the Standards and let my potential clients know that. After all, now we are in this together.

Someday, I am going to look back at this moment and chuckle at my initial reaction because someday it will be normal practice to plan a sustainable meeting.

My thanks to all of those who did the really hard work of defining these Standards, we will make you proud!