Thursday, April 24, 2014

No, Not the C Word!

Yes, that's right, "Collaboration."  The word, collaboration, is widely used when talking about sustainable meetings.  Sustainable event planners go on and on about how they must collaborate with the venues, chefs, waste haulers, general service contractors, hotels, transportation companies and even entire cities to produce an environmentally and socially responsible event.  They are right.  It takes communication and cooperation between all parties to really drive this change to the next level.

Now for the scary part.  The next level will also require collaboration between industry competitors, even to the extent that we share our failures.  There is no quicker way to move this process along than to talk about a failed attempt and the lessons we learned.  Imagine each of us, checking our egos at the door and discussing a fabulous plan that just didn't work out.  To be vulnerable to our peers with the hope that in the spirit of collaboration, we all learn.  Thanks to Elizabeth Glau, who bravely did just that on her blog.

For years, Oracle Open World (pictured above) has thrown open it's doors for planners (including competitors) to go behind the scene and see Oracle's successes and failures during this huge event.  They collaborate with the entire hospitality community and repeatedly offer other conferences the opportunity to share their resources in the San Francisco area.

Ten years ago, we first had to sell a potential client on the very idea of being more environmentally conscious before talking about our services and our competitors were very few.  Today, most clients are aware of the benefits of corporate social responsibility and the number of competitors vying for the business has increased significantly. The landscape has changed.

Let's not let the fear of increased competition keep us from collaborating with each other.  Let's instead manage this monumental shift in our industry by sharing resources, ideas and, yes, even failures.  If the recent reports of climate change are any indication, there will be plenty of work for all of us.  We can make this work a little lighter with an open spirit of collaboration along the way.

"If everyone is moving forward together, 
then success takes care of itself." - Henry Ford

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

SCRAPy Solution to Event Waste

Photo at SCRAP in San Francisco by Nancy Zavada

Imagine, someone begging for donations of used signage, conference bags and lanyards?  Me neither, until I took a field trip to SCRAP during the GMIC Sustainable Meetings Conference. 

SCRAP takes an amazing amount of used items (ones that Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity won't) and diverts 250 tons of waste from the landfill each year.  The Creative Reuse Center and Warehouse is organized by type of material: wood, metal, glass, fabric, paper, images, plastic, natural materials, beads & buttons, arts & crafts, toys, and more. The entrance contains a section of free materials. The rest are available at low-cost to artists, teachers and the creative public. Monies raised from the depot keep SCRAP going, offering free materials pick-ups, low-cost workshops, school field trips, and more.

Never again will conferences and events in San Francisco have to wonder where they can donate those leftover items.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Stop Hunger. Looking Silly Optional!

On Day Two of the GMIC Sustainable Meetings Conference, participants took part in a project to help Stop Hunger Now.

This is one of the most well organized volunteer projects I have ever been involved in.  It was easy for attendees to step right in and begin packing food for the hungry.  It was fun, worthwhile and the music kept the energy up.  In just one hour's time, attendees were able to pack nearly 30,000 meals and look silly all at the same time.

Take a look at their website (linked above) and consider doing the same at your event.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

No Excuse Guest Recycling

No guest room recycling because your hotel can afford to add recycling bins?  Look no further.  This low tech answer is as close as a paper bag.  When the GMIC Sustainable Meetings Conference convened at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, guests found this solution in their rooms which resulted in a twitter fury praising the hotel.

Sustainable event planners will definitely remember this idea the next time their conference hotel pushes back on in-room recycling.

For those not able to attend the event, check out the impressive playlist of sessions for virtual attendees

Friday, April 11, 2014

Poetry Friday

There once was a team from MeetGreen

They didn’t like polystyrene

They said, “No more at our meetings
or there will be beatings”

For we want our planet pristine.

Because sometimes it is okay to be silly and not take our work in sustainability so seriously.  Looking forward to some silly, innovative, enriching and thought-provoking discussions next week at the Green Meeting Industry Council's Sustainable Meetings Conference in San Francisco!