Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Oracle OpenWorld Tells a Story

 "Every picture tells a story." 

 Just as this photo of an Oracle OpenWorld participant arriving at the conference helps us understand what event sustainability really looks like, our words can also draw a picture. As sustainable event professionals, the amount of data swimming about can often drown any hope of really sharing our story when we write a final report.

The Oracle OpenWorld San Francisco 2012 Sustainability Report uses compelling visual and written images to weave a story of sustainability.   Here are a few great examples:
  • Buying 100% post-consumer recycled paper for the event's collateral items saved 450 trees
  • Reducing adhesive signs has saved enough product to cover 87 pool tables since 2009 
  • Providing reusable tumblers and hydration stations has eliminated the use of 69,711 plastic bottles 
  • Retaining enough signs for reuse to cover 5 football fields and enough carpet to cover over 3 football fields 
 All of those statistics translated into images our brains can visualize help us understand the enormous impact sustainable decisions can have. They tell a story you will remember and perhaps pass on to others.  Not only are the accomplishments of Oracle Openworld impressive, so is the story!

Now if my mind would just let go of the vision of 142,000 cups of coffee served during the event.  I keep imagining how long that line might be at my local coffee shop.

Photo and Sustainability Report Writing Credit:  Shawna McKinley

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Need Help With Your New Year's Resolution?

You are unique, a trend-setter, a thought leader.  When others were toasting in 2013 and making their resolutions to lose weight, exercise more or watch less TV, your goal was to develop your organization's sustainability policy.

Here we are three weeks into the new year, the hangover is gone and so is your enthusiasm for developing a sustainability policy.  You know you need to get started, but there are so many good excuses and other things to do with your time (eat and watch TV).

Sometimes it takes a little help to get started.  We offer help in the form of a free Sustainability Policy Template. 

Now what's your excuse?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Tree Planting for Future Tree Hugging

Today was not only National Service Day, but also Martin Luther King Jr. Day both of which are perfect for organizations to allow staff to get out in the community and give back.

With a large virtual team, it was more difficult to plan a project to include everyone as our offices are from Stockholm, Sweden, to Portland, Oregon, with many points in between.  Instead, we let people take the day to work in their own community resulting in projects such as Della starting and leading a beach clean up (while on vacation) and Carole taking her children to the local humane society to help out.

Here in the Portland office, we decided to volunteer in the great outdoors planting trees. 

Being outside in the sunshine would have been wonderful if the temperature hadn't been below freezing when we arrived.  It didn't take long to figure out that the harder we worked, the warmer we were.  Shawna and Britta also quickly learned that standing in the steaming pile of compost while shoveling it into buckets kept their feet nice and toasty.  True nature girls!

As sustainable planners, we were thrilled to see that even at this outdoor event, the Friends of Trees had ceramic mugs for our coffee and no disposables in sight.  They are definitely, "Friends of Trees."

As event managers, we observed the volunteer coordination from sign-in, through training, and onsite management.  Being on the volunteer side was an important reminder about how to use people's valuable time most effectively and giving them the necessary tools.

At the end of the day, each of us felt we received more than we gave and were thankful for the opportunity to make a small difference for our planet.  One tree at a time.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Reality of Being an ISO 20121 Certified Company

Like any good reality show, it is seeing into the gritty, everyday world that seems to intrigue the audience. The same goes for firms interested in certifying under ISO 20121: it is the daily regime that really intrigues them. MeetGreen has certified under both ISO 20121 and its predecessor BS 8901 and now has a history of compliance to share. Over the years, we have had our share of obstacles and challenges although none have resulted in hair-pulling or name calling.

At our annual staff retreat last week, we discussed the issues which have been brought to light through the ISO 20121 system. As a team, we reviewed both the resolved issues and those to be dealt with in 2013.

Issues resolved in 2012 - 10 

New issues for 2013- 5 

Only half the number of issues to be resolved in 2013 and of those five new issues, only one is was brought forth by employees and four are items needed to complete gaps in our policies and procedures. This is a huge change from the past. Each year we get better and better at both determining issues and solving them in a timely manner.

When we began this certification process there were plenty of questions by our meeting professionals on staff. Most questions boiled down to, “How does this affect what I do everyday? Or, will there be drama and extra work?”

Shawna McKinley’s answer really captures what it has been like to “live” ISO 20121…

“Many of the standard practices, forms and approaches to event management we use at MeetGreen have emerged organically. By working on projects for clients we adopt somewhat consistent approaches to doing things - how to complete a staging guide, elements that go into a sustainable event case study, and the in's and out's of a registration system, for example. These norms of practice help us do our job.

Standardizing practice through ISO 20121 helps to institutionalize the best of the best practices we have all developed as a team so we can train others, and identify any gaps so we can improve. It also ensures we set clear objectives to measure as a company and in our projects, and act according to our values. Even though they may not realize it, ISO 20121 affects employees’ work every time they use our planning tools at MeetGreen as they were designed with the standard in mind."

Maintaining our system requires regular reviews in the form of weekly project team meetings, weekly staff meetings, quarterly director reviews and annual senior management reviews. Thanks to the system, we now have better communication, a system for handling problems, a management team in touch with our projects and employees, and a more evolved sustainability program.

What we don’t have is a gritty basis for a good reality show. Sadly, the television networks have passed on a reality show I wanted to name, “Real Meeting Planners of Convention City.”

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Winning Season

Bryant Denny Stadium at the University of Alabama holds 101,821 boisterous fans and is the fifth largest stadium  in the United States.  That's why when Casey Rogers, Deputy Executive Vice President of the Student Government Association at the University of Alabama and member of the Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority, recently told me about their gameday food donation program, I was both excited and impressed.

Here is her story...
"5th Quarter is a food donation program that was started at The University of Alabama this past fall in hopes of giving back to the citizens of Tuscaloosa. The program was founded by two greek chapters on campus and has since seen remarkable results. Members of founding chapters, Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority and Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity, participate each gameday in the collection of leftover food prepared in the South and North Zones of Bryant Denny Stadium.

Alabama's winning football team isn't the only one with outstanding gameday statistics this season. In just its first season, 5th Quarter donated a total of 10,735 pounds of food to the West Alabama Food Bank, which provided over 13,000 meals to those who need them the most.

This project has been a true team effort that has and will affect the lives of thousands of people in west Alabama. Additionally, the 5th Quarter project is happy to announce that its efforts will now be extending to Coleman Coliseum during The University of Alabama's basketball season this Spring."

The efforts of these students are making a huge difference in their community.  Thank you and congratulations!