Thursday, September 27, 2012

Need Help With Green Meetings? We've Got Your Back

When nearly 1,200 meeting professionals registered for the Meeting Focus webinar, "Sustainable Meetings: Going Green the Easy Way," I knew their was a demand for basic information.  During my presentation, I took a poll to confirm my suspicions.

Answering the question, "What are you already doing about green meetings?" the respondents replied:

14.88%     Have a sustainability policy
23.72%     Request the same minimum green practices each time
 7.91%      Measure and report on their green practices
53.49%     Nothing yet, just getting started

Great news!  Look how many meeting and event organizers are getting started putting sustainable practices in place.  

I urge those of you beginning to learn about green meetings not to be overwhelmed and give up when reading about APEX/ASTM Standards, ISO 20121, GRI Reporting, or the UN Global Compact.   The good news is that it is easier than ever before to get started making your events more sustainable.  There is now a framework for what to request, vendors who are able to fulfill those requests, templates, forms, forums and an even an organization (Green Meeting Industry Council) devoted to supporting your efforts.

If you haven't already watched the webinar, it would be a helpful place to start.  The information should alleviate your concerns and give you some simple steps and resources to get you going.  You might also want to check out the information and local events of  GMIC .  Additionally, please don't hesitate to post questions to this blog, I will  happily answer you.

Remember you are not alone and do not have to reinvent the wheel.  If I have learned anything doing this work, it is that we have a strong community of passionate, committed, amazing individuals ready to share what they have learned. 

Those of you who have been working with green meeting practices for a while, have a policy, measure and report, look around and find someone to mentor.  Share your insights, teaching is the best way to learn.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Are Things STILL What They Used to Be?

"Oh, mercy mercy me
 Oh, things ain't what they used to be
 No, no
 Where did all the blue sky go?
 Poison is the wind that blows
 From the north, east, south, and sea

 Oh, mercy mercy me
 Oh, things ain't what they used to be
 No, no
 Oil wasted on the oceans and upon our seas
 Fish full of mercury

 Oh, mercy mercy me
 Oh, things ain't what they used to be
 No, no
 Radiation in the ground and in the sky
 Animals and birds who live nearby are dying

 Oh, mercy mercy me
 Oh, things ain't what they used to be
 What about this overcrowded land?
 How much more abuse from man can you stand?"

I was in high school when Marvin Gaye wrote this sorrowful song.  Back then, I listened to it over and over again with a growing concern for our planet.  This morning, I heard it on my way back from vacation.  Just as poignant as it was in 1971, the song reminded me that all these years later, our work is still not done. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Eliminate Food Packaging for Your Events

If you have committed to requesting and serving food and beverages in bulk whenever possible, this blog's for you.

Today I offer easy tips on how to accomplish your goal:
  •  Ask the caterer to provide condiments in bulk. What exactly does this mean? Milk in creamers instead of little plastic "moo juice" cups, sugar in covered bowls instead of paper wrappers and and butter on a plate without a foil wrapper. Doesn't that sound more elegant anyway?
  • Request fruit be served whole on breaks. We have found a significant cost savings by switching to whole fruit as the labor costs are much lower than sliced fruit. Guests like the "comfort food" aspect of eating fruit this way. 
  • Serve pitchers of lemonade and iced tea for afternoon breaks instead of individually bottled soft drinks. This is a huge cost savings for meeting organizers and also saves in cans and bottles. 
  • Ask for yogurt to be served in large bowls so guests may spoon it into pretty glass bowls instead of the usual plastic container and foil lid. 
  • Request snacks and cookies be made fresh and served on platters. Not only do they taste better, you will save money as guests are less likely to grab a handful for later. 
  • Ask participants not to use room service, but to dine in the restaurant instead. If you are footing the bill, the reason may be financial. We are seeing a growing trend where companies will no longer pay for this guest service. Also think of all the tiny, individual containers which arrive on the tray. 
  • Use large pitchers or "bubblers" instead of individual bottled water. I won't go into the lecture here (you are welcome), just a friendly reminder. Save oodles of money and your corporate image too! 

These ideas should get you started and you can add your own each time you place a catering order. Don't forget to ask for and document your cost savings.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Should We Go Hybrid?

photo of a jet stream by Nancy Zavada
Hybrid meetings are here to stay.  It is time for organizations and planners to stop fighting so hard to "save" face-to-face meetings, there is room for both.

You already have the core competencies required to successfully execute virtual meetings such as program design, speaker recruitment, logistical organization and sponsor enrollment. All that is required is learning a new platform and some careful consideration about the audience and how best to engage them. The economic and environmental savings are considerable and will make you a hero in your organization.

Here are some questions to ask yourself and your key stakeholders we you begin designing your next event:

Are our attendees tech savvy?
Do they tend to be introverted or extroverted?
Do our attendees live in rural areas making it difficult to travel to the meeting?
Is the additional time and expense spent on travel worth the result we expect to achieve?
Are we trying to build consensus and community or is this an educational program?
How will this meeting impact the environment and how can we minimize that impact?

For a case study about the who is best served by these formats, check out "Should I Stay or Should I Go?"