J500 Media and the Environment


I recently returned from the Engineers Without Borders conference on “Sustainable Engineering and Global Health” in Seattle. The flight on Southwest was disappointing to say the least, from an environmental perspective, but the conference was a green dream come true, thanks to a “sustainability coordinator” in charge of making the conference itself as sustainable and carbon neutral as possible.

The first thing that I noticed was the in-room recycle bin at the hotel, shortly followed by the Project Planet door-hanging in the bathroom encouraging me to conserve water and use my towels more than once.

The next morning I discovered it was a mere 10-minute stroll from the hotel to the conference venue on the University of Washington campus. Cool, I thought, no need to waste money on a taxi.

Once at the conference hall, I lost myself in the fairyland of recycle and compost bins, zero paper handouts, and fully compostable beverage cups and napkins. It only got better as I picked up my t-shirt made from 100% fair-trade organic cotton and water-based ink. Lunch came and I found myself relishing the local, organic fare pre-boxed in compostable packaging. I had never been to a conference planned quite like this before – it was exciting!

To top it all off, EWB gave each of us a “Carbon Offset Care Package” complete with two hybrid Poplar tree cuttings to plant when we got home. After all, flying the 3,105 miles from Kansas City to Seattle I had emitted approximately 1,400 lbs. of CO2. I planted them as soon as I got home, because it was going to take the two of them together almost 20 years to offset my emissions from this single trip.

(My cute little Poplar trees are already growing after 1 week!)

The whole experience made me feel good. Sometimes, I feel as if I’m one of only a handful of people recycling or bringing my own cup to the coffee place, but at the conference, there were hundreds of us walking, recycling, composting, and maybe even planting all those trees. I felt like I was a part of something bigger than me and that that something was making a real difference in just one weekend. It was a real green dream come true!

Curious about how you might create a green dream for attendees at your next conference or meeting? See my next post: Wow your stakeholders (AND please eco-critics) with your next business conference.

~ Sarah H

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2 Comments so far
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It does feel good to feel like you are part of a bigger movement. And your trees are so sweet. What is most is that people really are thinking about this stuff in ways they did not 5 or 10 years ago. My goal is to eliminate all plastic water bottles from our city meetings like they have in SF.

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