Friday, February 26, 2010

Fresh is where it's at!

FRESH Edmonton has recently been launched and it is truly an exciting program. Check out the Fresh - Edmonton website and links for more information. On the site they have provided FRESH Ideas and Tools to Green your Event.

I was particularly interested in the Eco Report Card overview. By measuring the waste, energy consumption and environmental impact of each event, you are not only measuring the effectiveness of your green event strategies, but are establishing a baseline measurement for future events. This is particularly useful when you have an event that occurs every year, with very few parameters changing.

As Nancy Wilson of Meet Green said a few years ago at the GMIC convention in Vancouver, "What gets measured, gets money!"


97% Diversion Rate!

I just heard that the GMIC Sustainable Meetings Conference that yours truly just attended in Denver this month was able to achieve a 97% diversion rate! Only 3% went to the landfill. Congratulations organizers, a job well done!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Kudo's to Coca Cola at the Olympic Games!

I was pleased to hear about the efforts of Coca-Cola to green their Olympic Operations. Good job Coca Cola!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pre-loved makes sense!

Have you ever been brainstorming ideas for an event and wanted to do something creative, but were worried that you couldn't do it because it wasn't very sustainable? Green event planners struggle with this all the time and I wanted to share an example.

Last fall I was planning an event called "Take Flight" and we were trying to incorporate the theme into the conference wherever we could. One activity that I wanted to do is to have a paper airplane contest that any of the participants could enter as many times as they wanted. The person who created the paper airplane that flew the furthest won an actual airline voucher that they could use after the conference. The participants could fly their planes during coffee breaks and lunch in the designated area, a volunteer was there to measure and record their distance.

I struggled with it because I couldn't envision using perfectly good sheets of paper for the airplanes and what could I do with them afterward? I could use 100% recycled content paper, but still, it was very wasteful. So......what about using "pre-loved" paper? You know, the paper that we collect throughout the day, i.e. fax headers, etc. that goes directly into the recycling bin.

That is exactly what we did! The agencies involved saved 8.5 x 11 paper for me during the month prior so that we would have enough for our participants to make as many paper airplanes as they wanted. It worked wonderfully and the paper airplanes were collected and recycled following the event.

This is just an example of how you can still be creative AND sustainable during your events.


Monday, February 15, 2010

What Can I do Differently?

The challenge of a green event planner is to look at all aspects of the event and say, "what can I do differently" to minimize the environmental impact. Lets take a practical look at that using a couple of recent events I attended as examples.

While having lunch with my conference colleagues, I noticed that each table had cereal sized bowls filled with toppings for our entree. There were 6 bowls on each table (2 of each topping) and they were filled to the top. After the lunch, I noticed that hardly any of the toppings had been used and I began to consider the waste. All of these would have to be thrown away. So I challenged my lunch mate to brainstorm with me about what we could have done differently. We came up with many different strategies, but the one that we decided would work the best was to use smaller bowls and refill as needed. Yes, there may still have been waste, but there would be less waste. By serving in smaller dishes, trays, etc. and replenishing often, we can reduce the waste at our event.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Olympics have begun!

I was a proud Canadian last night as I watched the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The ceremony was so distinctly Canadian, simple yet effective. It highlighted our diverse culture and our First Nation community. The poem "We Are More" by Shane Koyczan was a treat to hear and watching Wayne Gretzky light the Olympic cauldron was so exciting.

I am a proud Canadian!


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Day Two of GMIC Conference

On the steps of the Capitol Building in Denver, right at the point where we were one mile above sea level.
Well Day Two has come to a close and everyone who attended the 2010 GMIC Conference is making their way home hopefully to put into practice all that they have learned.

My goal in attending the conference was to re-energize my passion and commitment for green meetings and to make connections. I did accomplish those goals and will return home with a renewed sense of purpose.

As Annie Leonard said, we have to make changes in the way we live our lives. Lets make that change!


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Day One at the GMIC Conference

Well, day one is behind me at the GMIC Conference in Denver. The event opened with a keynote from Annie Leonard who was fabulous! If you don't know who Annie is, she created "The Story of Stuff" and she is a great speaker and so passionate. Really enjoyed her presentation.

I attended quite a few sessions and met alot of interesting people. I had a great time at lunch visiting with Stephanie Shrewsbury from the University of Kentucky. They are busy getting ready for the World Equestrian Games and really working hard at greening the event. I wish them the best of luck!

I also met Jan Tolle MacDonald from Travel Alberta. She is the Regional Manager for the US Midwest and she is such a nice person. She took a liking to my Olympic lanyard with the Canadian flag on it, so I made a deal that I would trade it for something from her tomorrow before the end of the conference.

Connections and networking.....that is the name of the game! Now I am resting up for a full day tomorrow. I may even get to do a little site seeing!


Monday, February 8, 2010

Look out Denver, here I come!

Tomorrow morning, I leave for Denver for the GMIC Sustainable Meetings Conference

I always leave the conference inspired and motivated and I am sure that the 2010 conference will not disappoint me. Being surrounded by like minded people who share a passion for the green meeting industry is a great way to start off 2010.

I will definitely share my thoughts when I return.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Ignite Magazine has great ideas!

I was just reading my Ignite Meeting and Incentive Magazine and they always have such great ideas. I am always looking for ways to make guests feel special, but I want to make sure that I am being "green" at the same time. The latest issue of Ignite Magazine has a great suggestion. Use the hotel voicemail system to leave a personalized greeting for your conference attendee's. You can pass along a greeting or provide instructions, such as a reminder about the welcome reception. You can carry this one step further by having your keynote speaker leave the message.

I think this is a great idea and another example of how you show that hospitality isn't about things, it is about actions. Thanks to Ignite Magazine for that great idea!


Friday, February 5, 2010

BP Safety Stand Down Day Dawson Creek - a Green Event

What a great event!

Over 625 people in attendance which could have meant bags and bags of garbage from this event. Instead, there were over 20 pounds of coffee grounds composted, the food scrapings went to the bear sanctuary, the pens left on the tables were taken to the high school, and paper and plastic was recycled. Hats off to the catering staff at the Event Centre for working hard so that we could make this a green event. Thanks!

The Weary Traveller

Wow! 2010 is barely out of the gate and I have been out of town 2 weeks out of the four already.

First stop was The Special Event in New Orleans. This was a professional development event for me and I had the opportunity to attend 9 educational sessions which included marketing, branding as well as some creative workshops focusing on design. I also met some wonderful people in New Orleans and wished that I could spend more time visiting with the locals. The food was tremendous and I tried a little bit of everything including alligator!

There were two standout workshops for me. The first was a press workshop by Tara Wilson owner of Tara Wilson Events. She was down to earth and willing to share all of her experiences with the audience. She is definitely going places that girl, and I look forward to seeing her on Martha Stewart one of these days. The other stand out workshop for me was the branding workshop with Kristy Chenell and and Frances Marron. They were great presenters and provided a great deal of good information. I was pleased to see that I was on the right track already with my branding, but in need of some additional information.

After returning home, it was a quick rest up and then off to Edmonton, Alberta to present at the Edmonton Tourism AGM.

The Edmonton Tourism AGM was held at the new Expo Centre and organizers tried very hard (and succeeded) in making this a green event. My hat is off to Ramona McVicker and her group! Thank you for hosting such a wonderful green event.

At the AGM I was fortunate enough to make contact with a gentleman from Powerful Play. We followed up with a phone call when I got home. Check out Robert's website at to learn more about him. His workshops appear to be really innovative and creative and alot of fun!

I am now getting prepared for my next trip which is to Denver for the Green Meeting Industry Council Conference. I am sooooo excited! I come home from the GMIC conference truly inspired and motivated and ready to tackle the world!

Talk to you soon!