Saturday, March 27, 2010

One small step....

I am in Edmonton last week and happen to stop at Southgate Mall to browse the bookstore (code for visit Sephora)....anyway, I stopped by the food court and happened to see this basket sitting on the shelf where you return your food trays. I took the photo with my Blackberry, but you can read what it says, "Please place your unused condiments packages in this container (ketchup, mustard, vinegar, et cetera)".

This is the first time I have seen something like it in a mall, food court, etc. What a great idea!! Two thumbs up Southgate Mall!


Friday, March 26, 2010

I spy with my green eyes........

What a better way to enjoy this beautiful spring day than to take a walk and visit some of our downtown gift shops. Not only did I get to enjoy some great conversation, I spied some new products that I want to share with you.

First is the Bamboo Sheet set that I spied at the Olde Creek Store. Now, this is cheating a bit because I actually own a set of these sheets and I have purchased a set for my adult children as well. The bamboo sheets are like sleeping on silk....they are simply luxurious. They are hypo-allergenic and anti-bacterial (bamboo fibers have nature antibacterial protection that wick away moisture for comfort). They say that the bamboo is "three times more breathable than cotton". They are available in four colours and would be a wonderful eco-friendly Mother's Day gift or a graduation gift.

The other item is the "to die for" bamboo bath robe. If I put it would be tough to get me out of it. The texture is simply out of this world and has to be seen to be appreciated.

Why bamboo? Bamboo is fast growing and thrives naturally without the use of pesticides and fertilizers. The bamboo fibre has a round surface, therefore it is soft against the skin. Believe me....once you begin wearing or sleeping on bamboo fabric, you won't go back to cotton. You can find bamboo shirts and outerwear, towels, socks and more!

The Olde Creek Store is located at the heart of downtown Dawson Creek, just one block south of the Mile Zero Post.


How will you spend Earth Hour 2010?

The WWF Earth Hour website states: “Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia when 2.2 million homes and businesses turned their lights off for one hour to make their stand against climate change. Only a year later and Earth Hour had become a global sustainability movement with more than 50 million people across 35 countries participating.

In March 2009, hundreds of millions of people took part in the third Earth Hour. Over 4000 cities in 88 countries officially switched off to pledge their support for the planet, making Earth Hour 2009 the world’s largest global climate change initiative.”

Earth Hour is Saturday, March 27th from 8:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.

So, Earth Hour can be celebrated by anyone, anywhere. You don’t require anything special except a common, global commitment to a sustainable future.

That concludes the background information portion of this post. Now onto the fun stuff….like how to creatively spend Earth Hour.

Candles, candles – Make sure you have soy or beeswax candles on hand. I prefer to nestle the candles in hurricane vases with a few inches of coffee beans in them to not only protect the flame, but to create a really nice aroma.

Pick a board game – Remember how much fun it was to play board games? Well there are so many games on the market which can be naughty or nice…..choose according to your audience.

Food, glorious food – Create your party menu with the Earth in mind. If you live in an area where seasonal food consists of only root vegetables at this time of year, then perhaps you can go in a different direction. I recently read the Jonathan Safran Foer book entitled “Eating Animals” which is about factory farming. In it, Foer states that, “If every American were to remove one serving of meat a week from his diet, it would be environmentally the equivalent of taking 5 million cars off the road.” Taking a cue from this, prepare a completely vegetarian party menu.

Search and…….unplug – Identify all of the power points in your household that you are able to turn off.

Warm and fuzzy – In some Northern locale’s, it is not appropriate to turn off the furnace for Earth Hour. If that is the case, turn down your thermostat to your night-time setting. Why not “gift” your guests, a pair of slippers to take home with them as a reminder of Earth Hour?

Challenge yourself to more than an hour – I will bet that the one hour spent with family and friends goes by quickly. Challenge yourself to extend the hour! Better yet, challenge yourself to an Earth Hour each week!

Share the experience – Using social media, share the experience with others. If they see how wonderful your Earth Hour experience was, they may try it themselves next year.

Happy Earth Hour everyone

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Green your Easter Celebration!

Easter is just around the corner and now is the time to begin planning your “green” Easter celebration. Here are some tips to planning an eco-friendly Easter:
  • Only purchase eggs for decorating which come packaged in cardboard….no styro!
  • Consider creating paper mache eggs using newspapers destined for the recycling bin. These “eggs” can be made in many different sizes and you can create much larger designs. They also will not spoil like traditional hardboiled eggs and can become a keepsake for those who find them.
  •  Minimize the use of those hollow plastic eggs. If you already have them, try and reuse them each year.
  • Keep your baskets from year to year. We keep our Christmas stockings from year to year, why not our easter baskets? Encourage each child to create a one of a kind basket and then personalize it with their name.
  • Make your own basket “grass”. Shred gift wrap or tissue paper that you have saved from Christmas and use it to line the baskets. You can also pop popcorn, let it cool completely, seal it in a zip lock bag with a couple of drops of green food colouring and “shake, shake, shake”. Once the pop corn is coated, let it dry completely on a cookie sheet before lining the baskets or it will stain.
  • Flower Power! Create your seasonal centerpiece with “in season” blooms such as tulips and daffodils. Even better…..fill a clear glass container with the brightly coloured paper mache eggs you have created!
  •  Look for alternatives! Let’s face it, organic/fair trade chocolate can be pricey. Try and swap out at least one easter treat with an organic treat.  Better yet…make some homemade treats for the baskets such as popcorn “eggs” or bunny shaped sugar cookies.
  • Let’s talk turkey! Is there a local resource for organic, free range turkey? They are more expensive than the supermarket turkey, but if you increase the amount of vegetables you are serving, the turkey can now become the “caviar” of the meal. Display it beautifully and serve smaller portions.
  • Serve local wine or beer…and recycle the bottles!
  • Ditch the throwaways! If you don’t have enough plates, flatware and glasses of your own to host your meal….borrow them!
  • Carpool to the meal with other family members. Make arrangements ahead of time to pick up everyone and travel in one vehicle.
 The  most important tip to remember is that these celebrations are not all about the “stuff”, or the meal that is prepared, they are about spending time with family and friends.

Happy Easter!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Interactive Seasonal Ingredient Map? No Way...Really? HAVE to check this out! Another tool in the Green Event Planner's Toolbox!

Click on me to see!

From the Epicurious website, an interactive seasonal ingredient map. Highlight a state and a month and it will tell you what is in season. Very neat!


The Story of Bottled Water - Celebrate World Water Day

Today is World Water Day.....make a change, make a difference.

Annie Leonard has done it again! I met Annie recently at a conference where she was our keynote speaker. She truly is passionate about what she believes in. The Story of Bottled Water came out today! This video is a must see, please take a moment to check out the Story of Bottled Water.


I spy with my green eyes...

I like to hear about ways in which we can harness new technology for our events. One those new innovations is the new video guestbook created by Jackson Fish Market called Thrilled For You.

(Photo from Thrilled For You - Wedding Video Guestbook Kiosk website)

It is kiosk software for Mac Computers (finally something for Mac's) where your wedding guests can upload an unlimited number of personal video congratulations. I think it is a cool creation and if I was a wedding planner, I would probably use it.

Now....while exploring the Jackson Fish Market further, I stumbled upon some more "cool" things. Check out the Carbon Grove which is a carbon reduction reminder service sent to your inbox!

I am definitely adding the Jackson Fish Market Blog to my links!


Birds of a feather...

I just returned from Edmonton where I was fortunate enough to have lunch with Michael O'Mara from the Shaw Conference Centre. Michael is a fellow GMIC member and it was great to connect with him post GMIC Denver Conference.
One of the advantages to belonging to organizations such as GMIC is that you are given the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals. As always, I love hearing what is happening at the Shaw Conference Centre and being so impressed by their sustainability programs. They show leadership and vision!

Birds of a feather DO stick together!


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I love to hear from you!

After  my recent post entitled, "If it walks like a duck...", I have received numerous emails about my assessment of biodegradable, compostable and recycled content single use products.

First of all, thank you for your emails. I appreciate the feedback and sometimes it prompts me to go back and read....yes read once again, what I wrote.

We do not live in a perfect world and until that time, we will still need to use single use products occasionally. I realize that and I applaud those manufacturers who are always seeking a better alternative for us to use. There are some wonderful, innovative products hitting the shelves and it is one of those companies who, in their quest for a more environmentally friendly product, are going to stumble upon something fabulous!

My goal behind writing the post was to encourage everyone to compare products and select the one that best serves their individual needs and must take into consideration what is available in their community and municipality for recycling and composting.

Thank you again for your emails!


Thursday, March 11, 2010

If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck……

As a green event planner, I often hear, “but if I use those new compostable plates, then I am being green…right?”

The companies who produce single use products are trying very hard to convince us to continue using their products. In response to a more savvy consumer, many new products have hit the shelves.

Compostable vs. Biodegradable vs. Recyclable

 'Compostable' products are biodegradable, but with an added benefit: when they break down, they release valuable nutrients into the soil, aiding the growth of trees and plants. These products degrade within several months in an industrial composting facility and produce no toxic residues. These products are commonly made out of polylactic acid, sugarcane fibre or vegetable starch. “Bagasse” is sugarcane fibre.

A backyard composter is NOT an industrial composter and while you can compost small quantities of these products in your backyard composter, you certainly cannot compost the volume of the materials which would result from an event.

Do not put compostables into your recycling!

 ‘Biodegradable' simply means that a product will break down into carbon dioxide, water and biomass within a reasonable amount of time in the natural environment.
Biodegradability is a desirable feature in cleaning agents, but not really that desirable in single use food service items. Biodegradable products can be disposed of in your garbage, but the landfills lack the microorganisms and oxygen required for the waste to biodegrade in a timely manner. 

‘Recyclable’ products are anything that can be remade into something new. While most paper recycling can’t deal with food contamination, forcing you to throw out the used food service item, you can purchase single use products made out of recycled material.

So what does this all mean? It means that you have to continue to educate yourself and make informed choices on behalf of your clients.  Single use items are "single use" and at the end of the day, you have to remember that and make your choices and decisions accordingly. 

If it walks like a duck and talks like a is still a duck.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Do you take anything in your coffee?

Who is a conference planners' greatest asset? That would be her speaker(s) of course!

You work hard to make sure that your participants are comfortable, but how hard do you work to ensure your speaker(s) are happy?

A happy speaker = a better speaker. Better speaker = happy participants. Here are my tips for ensuring you have a positive relationship with your conference speakers.
  • Engage them often throughout the planning process. Often we book our speakers up to 6 months ahead of our event. Alot can change from the first time we spoke to them so make sure you drop them a line giving them an update about your event.
  • Give them the "lay of the land". If you are not doing their hotel booking, make sure you recommend a hotel that you are familiar with. Look for a hotel within walking distance of the event venue.
  • Channel your inner "welcome wagon". About 2 days prior to their arrival, email them a "welcome wagon" package which contains information about the community. Make sure you include maps or links to maps for the running/walking trails, the location of the closest Starbucks/Tim Hortons, a movie listing for the dates they are in town for, etc. I usually partner with the local tourism office to compile this information. Be sure your your package includes any changes to the conference agenda.
  • Offer them a ride. Don't assume that they will be renting a car at the airport, make sure you offer them transportation. Even if you don't have time to pick them up, often there is a member of your conference team who can pick them up and deliver them to their hotel. 
  • Leave a message. Leave a personalized voice mail message on their phone in their hotel room that they can listen to upon arrival. It may say something like, "Welcome Susan! Thank you for participating in (insert conference name). I wanted to invite you to the reception this evening downstairs in Grand Ballroom. It begins at 7:30 and dress is casual. I look forward to meeting you"
  • Rise and Shine! It is really important that you are available in the morning to meet your speakers/facilitators as they arrive at the venue. They have spoke to you over the phone, they have corresponded by email, now is the time to meet them face to face. Which brings me to the next tip....
  • Youtube! I have met my speakers "virtually" prior to the event by harnessing the power of Youtube. I have uploaded a short video welcoming them, providing details about the event, etc. They really like being able to put a face to the name.
  • Don't leave me! There is nothing worse than seeing a speaker panic when their powerpoint won't work, or their mic quits. Make sure that you provide audio/visual assistance for your speaker. They will appreciate it...believe me
  • Thank you! Two small words, big impact. Let them know you appreciate their participation.
  • And the survey says.....Lastly, provide them with the post event survey results, particularly the results that are about their presentation. Even if the results are not all positive, your speaker wants to know.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Don't let powerpoint have all the power!

As a meeting planner, I get to watch many, many (did I say many) powerpoint presentations. Some are very good, some are not. Here are the top seven ways presenters can regain the power of powerpoint!
  1. Be the star of your own show! Powerpoint should be used to support your presentation, not be the focus of your presentation.
  2. Limit the slide clutter! The audience should be listening to you, not reading the slide. Use text and charts sparingly.
  3. Templates........are boring! Quit using the built in templates....believe me, we have seen them before. Either design your own or possibly look to the Mac Apple Keynote program to add some excitement to your layouts.
  4. Careful with the clipart! Clipart can look unprofessional. Either choose it very carefully or look for high quality graphics.
  5. Video, video, video! If you have an opportunity to incorporate some video that is integral to your presentation, go for it. Be careful with can make you or break you.
  6. Bullets shouldn't fly! One of my biggest pet peeves is fly in bullets...on every page. While the odd flying in bullet can be whimsical, 30 slides with bullets flying in each one gets tedious.
  7. Discover Pecha Kucha! Applying this simple set of rules to the presentations: 20 slides for 20 seconds. Six minutes and 40 seconds maximum. It is a thing of beauty!

Friday, March 5, 2010

A few of my favourite read

I love, love to read and I often bring some of the books I read to my green meeting workshops to share with participants. Today, I thought I would share a few titles with you! They are in no particular order.

The 100 Mile Diet - A year of local eating by Alisa Smith and JB MacKinnon
I enjoyed this book. A couple of things prompted me to buy it; one being that they were from British Columbia and I am from BC and the other because I wanted to learn some practical guides to eating local. It delivered!

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
This book is a must read! It is fabulous

Ecoholic -Your guide to the most environmentally friendly information, products and services in Canada by Adria Vasil
Good book, the information is well laid out

Cause for Success - 10 Companies that put profits second and came in first by Christine Arena
Good book, good for CSR reference material

Slow Death By Rubber Duck by Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie
This book is difficult to get through, not because of the way it is written, but because of the information that is provided. It shocked me, but informed me. Remember, knowledge is power. I would recommend this book.

Simple Steps to Green Meetings and Events by Amy Spatrisano and Nancy Wilson
Every planner should have this book! Mine is dog-eared and coffee stained. It is an important read for any planner who wants to cross over to the "green" side

Giving by Bill Clinton
Good book, introduces the world to unknown heroes

Our Iceberg is Melting by John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber
No, this isn't a book about global warming, it is a fable about doing well in a changing world. It is a must read! These writers are genius!

These are just a few of my books, I have so many more. Can you recommend any good books?

Break the Bottled Water Habit | Cost Calculator

Break the Bottled Water Habit | Cost Calculator

Posted using ShareThis

Found this link this morning while reading the Meetings Net website, it looks interesting!


Thursday, March 4, 2010

A creative alternative to traditional floral wedding bouquets

Okay, so you probably are thinking, "I didn't think she was a wedding planner...." and I am not, but when I stumble upon some really creative alternatives to traditional components, I just have to tell someone.

I recently came upon a great website called Princess Lasertron out of Omaha, Nebraska. They create vintage felt and button design items, most notably, bridal bouquets. These one of a kind bridal bouquets are beautiful and a unique alternative to traditional living flowers. The benefit of this type of bouquet is that they can become an heirloom piece for the bride and her bridal party and can bring a sense of whimsy and personalization to the wedding.

Check it out!


Turning that frown upside down!

I have to admit when the cauldron arm didn't raise up during the 2010 Olympic Opening Ceremonies, I said out loud, "Oh my goodness, an event planner's worst nightmare!".

When we plan events, we can have all sorts of glitches. It can rain during an outdoor wedding, lightening can strike, vehicles can break down, and participants can run late or even not show up! If you can't handle the possibility that something could happen, you shouldn't be an event planner.

The important word here is "planner". An event planner plans for these mishaps....actually, they plan for the potential for the mishap. We risk assess each and every event and believe me, we play the game, "what is the worst that could happen" and then we develop a strategy. We look at the level of risk (high, medium, low risk) and we look at the impact (high, medium, low impact). Those risks which are low risk, low impact, don't cause event planners many sleepless nights BUT those risks which are low risk, HIGH impact do cause sleepless nights. These are the ones where we say, "There isn't much chance that it could happen, BUT if it did, it would be a catastrophe". We have to think about these and plan appropriately.

Which brings me to the 2010 Olympic Closing Ceremony. That savvy, experienced event producer/planner took that opening ceremony glitch and turned it into something to smile about. He took another kick at the proverbial can and left us with something to laugh about

Now that's an event planner!


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Where have all the fish gone?

Sometimes when people find out I am an "eco or green" event planner they say, "oh, you must be an environmentalist". I usually respond with, "no, I am a realist". I am a realist when it comes to where our world is heading if we don't do our part. So, when I signed onto my twitter account and there was a tweet from Ellen Degeneres (yes, I follow Ellen Degeneres....she makes me smile) and she was mentioning a film titled, "The End of the Line" about overfishing, I was intrigued. I immediately opened another browser window and googled "The End of the Line". I watched the trailer and was "hooked".

This film is a documentary about the devastating effect of overfishing. The website stated that scientists are predicting that if we continue fishing as we are now, we will see the end of most seafood by 2048.

Normally, I won't recommend watching something with the word "end" in the title, because I want people to feel motivated, not paralyzed by fear. In the case of this movie, I think we all should watch it. Knowledge is power and if we know how to distinguish sustainable seafood at restaurants and our grocery stores, we will have the power to make a difference and ensure that our oceans remain alive.

Event planners out there!!! Remember to check out these guides when planning menu's for your events. Never underestimate your sphere of influence and how you can influence change.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What the numbers are saying

I just read my new digital edition of the 2010 MEETINGS Market Trends Survey and quickly flipped to page 12 where the survey results of "Green Meeting Elements" were posted. They asked planners for Associations, Corporations, Independent and Government about green meeting elements such as recycling, food donation/sustainable cuisine, green venue site selection, paperless meetings, carbon offsets and "other".

Without a doubt recycling remains as the top green meeting element with it being the most important/implemented to government planners at 64.9%. Independent planners were the lowest percentage at 50.2%. Implementing a recycling strategy is the one of the easiest and most visible green meeting strategies, therefore implemented more often.

Paperless meetings came in second to recycling with the highest percentage again belonging to government planners at 37.8% and independent planners the lowest at 24.6%.

Green venue/site selection remains an ever present important element of green meeting planning with 27% of government meeting planners responding positively to this question.

Lastly, food donation and sustainable cuisine resonates most important or most implemented by independent planners at 27% (government 16.2%). I believe the reason for this result stems from the flexibility of independent planners and the events they plan to be more creative with their menu planning, possibly more money is available, and lastly they are not restricted by the perception of liability by government regarding food donation.

These are just my interpretations of the results based my own experience. If you disagree, let me know!