Sunday, August 29, 2010

What is sustainability?

The first time the Greater Vancouver Regional District wrote a green meetings guide it was 1995. We have come a long way, and now the Convention Industry Council, in partnership with a host of organizations is about to launch their guide, more excellent tools to come!

Green Meetings Standards Mark Industry Transformation

Below are some ideas of things we have been doing here for a while, in a city / country that embraces recycling of most paper, metal, plastic and more, where it is easy to do.
1. Eating local, using in season or locally available products whenever possible

2. Oceanwise seafood – ensures seafood is grown and harvested sustainably

3. Unused food is picked up by local shelters and shared with those in need

4. Water stations vs. bottled water, either guests “bring your own bottle”, or hosts can give them to attendees – a great branding opportunity that will last for years in the stainless steel version

5. What about giving them their own coffee cup?

6. China, glassware, flatware – with little need for disposable use the “good stuff”

7. Recycle everything you can in partnership with the venues – on the west coast this is really easy as separate containers for all types of waste are commonplace from paper to aluminum, glass and plastic

8. Recycle items like name badge holders, or use the cornstarch based plastic holders that decompose quickly

9. Think corn and bamboo – everything from “paper” plates to knives, forks and even golf balls!

10. e-send everything you can – ask your attendees if they prefer paperless – there are a small percentage that might still want paper, but certainly not all of them

11. Create signage that can be reused event to event or recycled / on recycled materials

12. Print using soy or vegetable inks on paper that can be recycled, or planted such as seed paper

13. Use your glass again – at a reception, asks guests just to refill – successful at the MPI WEC Welcome

14. Ask us about the Hybrid SUV’s, bio-fuel use, even incorporating the SkyTrain into your programs – and remember that a motorcoach with 50 people on it is actually pretty darn fuel-efficient when put on a per-person basis

15. We can provide a carbon off-set package when you book your air travel with our travel department

16. We design our environments using furniture made locally and / or sustainably produced

17. Centrepieces can be made from a myriad of substances – even the florals we use are grown within 100km of the downtown core!

18. Dine by candlelight – soy candles even!

19. Give back – have attendees bring work appropriate clothing they no longer wear and collect it for an organization such as Dress for Success with chapters across the country supporting women re-entering the workforce

20. Production value – what we have today uses less power and creates amazing impact – let’s talk about what you really need to deliver your message effectively

21. Incorporate activities that bring people back to nature – kayak, bike, hike, canoe around the amazing scenery and enjoy this time you have here at a slower pace and only human fuel required!

22. Gift if it makes sense – are you creating a memory and providing something useful (water holder, USB stick, clothing they can use for example)

23. Planning ahead – from the first meeting to the final guest departure, we will find ways to help you in both the messaging and the implementation around making your meeting the most sustainable it can be – it is just our way of thinking

24. What else can we do locally to leave behind a positive impact - bring your old suits to share with a local dress for success (seen at MPI WEC), bring books to support a local inner city school with limited library resources, spend an afternoon cooking where not only do you enjoy the meal but you also get to prepackage enough for groups like meals-on-wheels or the Dr Peter Foundation to share with those in need...

Ultimately it all just ties into thinking that the only footprint we leave behind is, well, from our own feet!  Here is another one of my favorite intiatives - being spearheaded by some of our favorite bands!  I also love when we can all get together to share and celebrate with music, and when we can do it in a way that makes sense.

Filter For Good

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