Over the last year I’ve attended over a dozen conferences and conventions, trying to discover how different industries are going green. Along the way I met people, saw new green innovations, and learned more than a few things; but as I attended more and more of these events, I realized that some were greener than others. So, for my year in review piece I thought I’d showcase a few of the better examples that I came across.
In Third place: The Romance Writers of America 32nd Annual Conference. This organization made its way into the top three for its “Readers For Life” charity book signing event. During the RWA’s October conference the doors were thrown open to the community at large. Thousands of people lined up outside the Anaheim Convention Center, all eagerly awaiting their chance to meet their favorite authors. Publishers donated thousands of books, and over 500 authors volunteered to autograph; all to help raise money for literacy charities around the world. This year the RWA announced that they had raised over $52,900 for ProLiteracy Worldwide, Read OC, and Literacy Volunteers – Huntington Valley.
In Second place: The PMA’s 2012 Fresh Summit International Convention & Exposition. Fresh food sellers from around the world were on hand to share their insights, and show off their produce. At the end of the convention all the fresh food that the various venders had on display (about 231,165 pounds) was donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County.
Finally, in First place: PRIM&R 2012 Advancing Ethical Research Conference. This organization not only supports responsible and ethical practices for its members, but also practices what it preaches. This was by far the most green, and community friendly conference that I’ve attended, not just this year, but ever.
The goal of being green could be seen at every turn at this event. Here are just a few examples of the green practices I saw there:
- Members were given reusable drink cups when they checked in.
- Convention bags were smaller than what you’d typically find at a convention, which worked perfectly to illustrate the reduction in flyers, and other such advertisements that would normally fill such bags. The bags themselves were sturdy enough that they could still be used as a reusable lunch bag after the conference was over.
- Instead of water bottles being handed out, PRIM&R had water stations set up in all the rooms. If an attendees forgot their reusable water glass, then they could use on of the biodegradable plastic glasses that were provided at each station instead.
- Coffee stations were also set up in a few locations, and there attendees would find “ecotainer” coffee cups made from fully renewable resources (which were also compostable and certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative).
- Attendees were encouraged to recycle their name badges, and lanyards, at the and of the conference. All who complied were given a little thank you gift as a reward.
- Finally, just to show what nice things can happen when people come together, a donation site for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego was set up right next the registration tables. Now, you might think that no one would bother to contribute to such a thing while at a conference, but you’d be wrong. By day two, the collection bin was already near full with donated toys, blankets, and clothes; and there was still two days left to go. Attendees were also dropping off monetary donations to the collection box located at the registration table as well. All in all, over $700 in donations were received ($445 in monetary funds, and $300 worth of toys and other items), once again proving that if given a chance people will try to help however they can.
When organizing such large gatherings it’s easy to forget the wonderful opportunity to do good that exist when you put that many people together in one place. Luckily, this year I had organizations like PRIM&R, PMA, and RWA to remind me. Now, I pass that reminder onto you. Hopefully you’ll remember their good examples, and strive to make your group’s next big event just as green and meaningful. Happy New Year everyone.