Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Water, Water...Everywhere?

Widening Circles by Nancy Zavada

If you don’t consider the scarcity of water a huge issue for the citizens of this planet, you haven’t been paying attention.  Water scarcity affects 2.7 billion people worldwide for at least a month a year and it is getting worse.

Are we in the hospitality industry paying attention?

Several recent examples of this have me wondering.

  1. During a stay in a drought-stricken, water-restricted town in Texas, the ice bucket in my room was filled every night without request.  It is one of their guest services.  I tried desperately for the three nights of my stay to get this “service” to stop, but was not successful.  
  2. At a recent conference in California, the hotel caterer required all the water glasses were pre-filled.  When the event coordinator pleaded to instead have just a pitcher of water and glasses on each table, she was told it was a “labor union policy.”  It was not until this event coordinator elevated her request to the General Manager, citing Governor Brown’s recent Drought Emergency Act,  that the practice was discontinued “for this event only.”
  3. Another hotel in a city facing water restrictions is clinging to the idea that all of their guests need their sheets changed (and washed) every single day without giving guests the chance to opt out of the program.

Again, are we paying attention?  Can our industry be part of the solution and not part of the problem? 

As meeting professionals, both planners and suppliers, we have an enormous opportunity to make an impact just by making more responsible choices, to be aware of the consequences of our requests on the communities where our events are held.  Most of these choices are the low-hanging fruit of water conservation.

The “higher-hanging fruit” food and beverages choices will be next.  Here are some examples of the water footprint of commonly ordered products to think about.

  • 1 gallon of wine requires 1,008 gallons of water
  • 1 gallon of coffee requires 880 gallons of water
  • 1 gallon of tea requires 128 gallons of water

And if that doesn’t hit where it hurts, how about
  •  1 lb. of chocolate requires 3,170 gallons of water

We talk a lot about how mighty the travel/meeting industry is and about our buying power.  Let’s put it to good use for the fellow citizens of this planet!

Source:  The Hidden Water We Use, National Geographic, via Treehugger

Monday, February 10, 2014

You Make Me Feel So Good

Think storytelling doesn't do any good?  Think your stakeholders don't need to be praised for "doing the right thing?" 

Think again!

My annual Blue Sky Renewable Energy Program statement from came today from Pacific Power and I couldn't be prouder.  My support of  renewable energy over the past year:

Avoided 13,200 pounds of CO2 = 14,212 miles not driven or 
155 trees planted

They also informed me that by participating, I supported the Dry Creek Landfill Gas Project (powering 3,200 homes for a year); a wind power project in Wasco, Oregon; and four native fish habitat restoration projects.  


Why am I telling you all of this?

Because it was a strong reminder for me (and hopefully others in sustainable event management) to share the story with every conference participant who takes a moment to sort their waste instead of tossing into the landfill or walks instead of taking a cab or reuses their towels.  

Don't forget to make them feel good all over again for making a wise choice!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Navigating the ABCs of Sustainable Meetings

Aqueous Inks to BioPreferred to CPG Compliant. What the heck?

The ABCs of today's event managers have certainly changed with the inclusion of sustainable practices in our daily routines.  There is a new vocabulary set which comes into play when making wise choices about your meetings and how they affect the planet. 

Thanks to my CMP, I can rattle off definitions for chevron sets, attrition clauses, and RFPs.  The environmental definitions are still not solid in my brain, so I refer to this online glossary we developed

Please use it as your own as you make decisions and purchases for your upcoming events.  We also welcome any new information to add to this resource because "all of us are smarter than one of us."  Simply add it to the comments field and we will post it in the glossary.