Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Reinventing the Wheel

The three-arrow logo which has come to symbolize, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle needs a makeover.  Somewhere in this concentric circle, we need to integrate, Rethink.  Rethink, before any of the other "R"s.

Hasn't the hospitality industry been rethinking our events lately anyway?  Given the current economic, societal and environmental atmosphere, we as meeting professionals still have a need to connect, educate and inform our participants.   Enter such strategies such as virtual meetings, hybrid meetings, meeting apps and social media.  The meetings industry has reinvented the toolbox more in the past several years than during any period in my entire thirty years of planning experience.

So it is with sustainable meetings.  Early in the event production proces, reinvent how your meetings are being managed with an environmental filter.  Run all of your decisions through the Rethink filter by asking these questions:

  • Is it necessary to do this?
  • Is there a better way to achieve the same objectives?
  • Have we reviewed our options in the last six months?
  • If the green option costs money, can we recoup that cost somewhere else?
  • What other use could it have?
  • How will this event reflect the values of my organization?

In our experience, the last question on this list is the one corporations are concentrating on.  How a corporation is perceived through their events has become a part of the risk management equation.  The values of an organization are becoming more and more transparent, never more so than during a sponsored event.

Rethink as if your professional and personal survival depend on it...they might.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Not Far From the Tree

My grandmother was always one to look at labels.  She was always picking up the saucer and turning it over when having tea at a friends house.  She was checking to see how expensive it was.  She inspected the silver looking for Reed & Barton embossed on the handle.

She didn't limit her inquisition to tableware.  She would read the labels of ladies coats hanging over their chair, flip up the corner of a rug, and take note of the furniture.  It was downright embarrassing!  As a teenager, I would make up any excuse not to go "visiting" with her.  I vowed never to do the same thing.

Fast forward 40 years to dinner at a restaurant celebrating a family birthday.  My questions ranged from, "where was the salmon caught?"  to "are the greens organic?" to "is that to-go container compostable?"  My daughter, thoroughly embarrassed at this point, threatened to have me buried in a Styrofoam cooler for eternity, if I didn't knock it off.  It may have been a different set of questions than Grandma asked, but there I was, judging everything.  This time for the sustainability rating.

I spend a lot of time carefully choosing products I consume to ensure they are the easiest on Planet Earth.  I won't use paper products without post-consumer recycled paper if at all, buy my food locally, try to find reused items before buying something new, etc.  I just hadn't realized how completely ingrained in my daily life it has become until the polystyrene threat.

It was also Grandma who loved to say about family members, "That nut didn't fall far from the tree."  Apparently this nut is closer to the tree than she thought.