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The Green Conference

Help the Environment AND Save Your Group Money!

Presenter: Marie Sitter, SPHR

VP of HR, Span-America Medical Systems

Director, South Carolina SHRM State Council

August 26, 2010

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The Green Conference

Then…And Now

Committee Members of the 2008 Green Conference

In 2008 Now

Linda Parris - State Director Past Director

Marie Sitter - Director-Elect State Director

Rita Revels - Secr/Treas Director-Elect

Sharon Sellers – Exhibitor Chair Secr/Treas

Our Director-Elect is also the State Conference Chairperson.

(Rita and Sharon will be available at the end

of this presentation if you have questions for them.)

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The Green Conference

Today’s Agenda

  • A Little History

  • Movin’ on Up

  • Being Green to Save Green

    • Categories

    • Outcomes

  • The Ideas Keep Pouring In

  • Resources for More Information

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The Green Conference

A Little Bit of History

“A hurricane watch remains in effect for the Southeast Coast of the United States from North of Edisto Beach, South Carolina northeast to Cape Lookout, North Carolina…Interests elsewhere in the Southeastern United States Coastal Region should monitor the progress of Hurricane Ophelia....” National Weather Service, Sept. 2005

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The Green Conference

Our History

  • Annual Conference since 1994

  • Moved around for awhile, but found a home eventually in Litchfield Beach

  • Started to Outgrow – nearly 200 attendees plus vendors

    Difficult to find a venue to accommodate all of our needs at an affordable price

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The Green Conference

Some were good experiences…

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The Green Conference

Some, not so good…….

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The Green Conference

Movin’ On Up

“Necessity, who is the mother of Invention..” - Plato

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The Green Conference

We bit the bullet and decided to Move on Up

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The Green Conference

Problem – Price!

For example –

  • Higher Meeting room Fees

  • More expensive food

    The clincher was

    $4 “Corkage Fee” per bottle for

    Vendor-Provided Water!

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The Green Conference

That Gave Us the Idea – Water bottles are bad for the environment – why not use water stations to save money?

Are there other ways that we can save money?

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The Green Conference

Then more and more ideas kept coming!

What about the bags?

What about the handouts?

What if we had reusable bottles?

What about flash drives?

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The Green Conference

What if we just had a Green Conference?

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The Green Conference

Being Green to Save Green

“If civilization has risen from the Stone Age, it can rise again from the Wastepaper Age.”  ~Jacques Barzun, The House of Intellect, 1959

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The Green Conference

The Actual Theme of the Conference was “Change”

What better way to encourage attendees to change than to let them see ways to be greener?

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The Green Conference

Main Categories –

Overall Awareness – Let attendees see the changes and understand that we can survive

Promote Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle – Practice what we preach!

Encourage an Earth-Friendly Lifestyle

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The Green Conference

Overall Awareness –

  • Green theme promoted through vendor booths – drawing for those with green theme items

  • Reusable shopping bags donated from grocery store chain were used as conference bags

  • Seeded paper ornament and refillable sports water bottle in conference bags

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The Green Conference

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle –

  • Handouts and conference information were placed on a Flash drive for each attendee (donated by vendor)

  • No bottled water was purchased. Attendees could fill their sports bottles at water stations throughout the conference.

  • The few printed materials distributed were printed on 100% recycled paper.

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The Green Conference

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle –

  • Notepads distributed to attendees were made of recycled paper

  • Ink pens provided were manufactured using an environmentally friendly process.

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The Green Conference

Encourage Earth-friendly Lifestyle –

  • Exhibitors were great – seed packets, pedometers to encourage walking instead of riding, wellness information.

  • Some even offered fresh fruit and healthy cookies.

  • 95% of the exhibitors had some promotional item that was Eco-friendly in some fashion.

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The Green Conference

Overall Outcomes –

  • We were concerned that taking our attendees out of their comfort zones would backfire - - actually they loved it!

  • At just our 2008 conference alone, we estimate that we saved 90,000 sheets of paper, 1000 plastic water bottles, and 250 binders from the landfill.

  • Reusable shopping bags are hopefully still working to prevent plastic bag usage.

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The Green Conference

Overall Outcomes –

  • Many of the ideas we used from this 2008 conference we are continuing to do in subsequent conferences – keeping more out of landfills.

  • SHRM is also using some of the ideas in their conferences

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Most importantly –

We passed on to our attendees that even in our HR profession, we can affect the environment by being creative and leaving our comfort zones.

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The Green Conference

The Ideas Keep Pouring In

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”  ~Native American Proverb

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The Green Conference

The Ideas Keep Pouring In – Not just for conferences, but also for chapter meetings

Perhaps even for your

own company meetings?

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The Green Conference

So Did We Make an Impact?

“Columbia SHRM went from a printed directory to a searchable PDF and e-mailed it to our members.  Also, we now post presenters’ handouts on our website in lieu of handouts.”

-- Karen Smith, PHR

HR Mgr, Gallman Personnel

President, Columbia (SC) SHRM Chapter

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The Green Conference

So Did We Make an Impact?

“I was chapter president at the time of the Green Conference.  Our board took away many ideas from the green conference that the chapter is still using today.  For example, many of our board members used to make copies of announcements and invitations and place them at the place settings for our monthly dinner meetings.  We decided to instead put these announcements on our Powerpoint presentation that rolled during our networking period before dinner.  Not only did we still get the word out, but the table settings were so much neater and welcoming to our members and visitors without all the stacks of paper everywhere.  At a conservative estimate, when you consider we had about 5 handouts per meeting and an average of 75 people in attendance, that was a savings of 375 sheets of paper per meeting.  We have been doing this since late 2008.  When you consider that we have 10 meetings a year, it really makes an impact on the environment over time.!”  - Celeste Bethell Purdie, HR Mgr, Verizon Wireless, Past President, Tri-County HR Mgmt Association (Charleston, SC)

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So Did We Make an Impact?

Midlands SHRM (Orangeburg, SC) distributes the monthly newsletter and all national, state, and chapter seminar promotions electronically to eliminate the paperwork and postage.  We are working on our bank statement to be on-line rather than by mail. We scan all our MSHRM documents (newsletters, membership applications, banking, etc) so we don’t have paperwork files or storage concerns. 

Mandy J. Baltzegar, PHR

HR Mgr, Zeus Industrial Products

President, Midlands SHRM

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The Green Conference

What about in your Workplace?

  • We bought everyone coffee mugs so that they would not have to use Styrofoam or paper cups for their morning coffee.

  • We bought everyone 22oz plastic (recycled materials mugs) for their soft drinks or water.  If they purchase a soft drink in the café it is half price using the mug and not Styrofoam or paper cups.

  • Carpoolers get special parking spaces up front as do those who drive hybrids

  • Each office and break room has its own recycle bins and employees are expected to use them for paper and plastic

  • Pens, toner cartridges, batteries and cardboard are also recycled with special  recycle bins

    Steve Nail, VP-HR, Hubbell Lighting, Inc.

    Legislative Action Director, SC SHRM State Council

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  • Don’t make copies of every announcement – instead

    • Put announcement on website

    • Have a slide presentation during networking time to have announcements listed

    • Ask a member to make an announcement and to be the contact if someone wants more information

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The Green Conference

  • Don’t kill trees by printing out every draft of every report, proposal, etc. Instead –

    • Collaborate online so everyone can see the document electronically

    • Create a safe method to save electronic copies in your computer or on a server – you may never have to print them out at all!

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  • Running into problems when one officer hands off a position to another officer and has mountains of boxes of material?

    • Consolidate – go through and determine what must be kept for the history of your conference, chapter, etc.

    • Scan what you can and use a third party server provider (“cloud”) to store your documents electronically

    • Save current documents the same way or on a flashdrive

    • Use Quickbooks or similar online provider for accounting

      Then, instead passing a trunk load of files, just hand over the flashdrive or the password.

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  • Save on postage costs –

    • Use one of the many methods for creating electronic invitations and email meeting announcements instead of using “snail mail”

    • Investigate methods for registering and paying online for meetings and conferences – saves time, postage, and more paper!

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The Green Conference

  • Nametags

    • For chapters, have attendees hand in their nametags at the end of the meeting to reuse at the next meeting

    • Encourage the return of nametags by having a drawing at the end of the meeting, using the nametags for the drawing

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  • Exhibit booths –

    We couldn’t have conferences without

    Our exhibitors – but just think of all of the

    Handouts, giveaways, promotional items, that

    We take as we smile at the vendor, only to throw

    The items away when we get home.

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The Green Conference

Exhibit booths –

Encourage the use of:

  • Biodegradable products (golf tees, cups, pens, etc.)

  • Products to increase eco-friendly awareness (water bottles, grocery bags, pedometers)

  • Items that you know will be used (food, pens, solar flashlights)

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The Green Conference

Exhibit booths –

Discourage the use of:

  • Blinky things, balls, poker chips, rubber duckies, etc that are cool at the conference but will just be thrown away

  • Mountains of handouts – have displays and laptops to show attendees on site, but just give them a business card as a takeaway

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The Green Conference

Exhibit booths –

Most online promotional products distributors have a section on eco-friendly or green products.

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Resources for More Information

“There is hope if people will begin to awaken that spiritual part of themselves, that heartfelt knowledge that we are caretakers of this planet.”  ~Brooke Medicine Eagle

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A Quick review of the Internet will provide a lot of good resources to find more ideas.

You may not be able to use all the ideas available, but, like us, you may be able to take someone else’s idea and adjust it to something that you and your group CAN live with.

Remember, our little conference of 200 attendees saved 90,000 sheets of paper the first year. Just imagine how much we could all save during the next decade by using some of these ideas we have shared!

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The Green Conference

Some other Tips from the BlueGreen Conference

  • Put your policy in writing

  • Use paperless technology as much as possible.

  • Meet close – a more central location nearby will use less gas (and money!); Try to find speakers nearby as well.

  • Practice the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) – speak with your conference center or hotel to insure that it will provide visible and accessible recycle containers

  • Bulk up – have your food and beverage server purchase condiments in bulk (not individual packets)

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The Green Conference

Some other Tips from the BlueGreen Conference

  • Lighten your stay – encourage your hotel to offer linen reuse program and offer bulk dispensers for shampoo

  • Eat green – include vegetarian options and use food that is grown locally

  • Close the recycling loop – use recycled paper that is printed with vegetable inks

  • Save energy – coordinate with your hotel to insure that lights are turned off in meeting rooms when not in use

  • Spread the word – tell attendees and others about your success – Being green is contagious!

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The Green Conference

Also, go to:

Here is a report from a task force within the convention industry regarding Green Meetings.

Some highlights from this report that we have not already discussed are on the next pages -

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The Green Conference

Convention Industry Green Conference Report –

Unique Ideas –

  • Have maps of walking trails and local parks available and be ready to suggest off-site events and tours that involve event attendees in the area’s natural environment with minimal impact.

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The Green Conference

Convention Industry Green Conference Report –

Unique Ideas –

  • Speak with your caterer in advance and arrange to have leftover unservedfood donated to a local food bank or soup kitchen, or separate it for pick up by a composting operation or local farm.

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The Green Conference

Convention Industry Green Conference Report –

Unique Ideas –

  • Arrange with your caterer to use reusable cutlery whenever possible, if not possible, insure that utensils used are biodegradable.

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The Green Conference

Convention Industry Green Conference Report –

Unique Ideas –

  • Have attendees ‘sign-up’ for meals. Better attendance numbers will reduce food waste and costs.

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The Green Conference

Convention Industry Green Conference Report –

Unique Ideas –

  • Ask exhibitors to bring only what they need for the event, and take away what they don’t distribute at the event.

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The Green Conference

Convention Industry Green Conference Report –

Unique Ideas –

  • Some exhibitors have really cool displays that they do not intend to reuse. Offer the exhibitors reuse opportunities by contacting local schools or charitable organizations to determine if they would like these items.

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The Green Conference

Convention Industry Green Conference Report –

Unique Ideas –

  • Save informational and directional signs for future use.

    • For example, purchase a reusable sign that says “Thanks to Our Sponsors for Sponsoring Our Networking Event” and leave a space to insert a page to list this year’s sponsors.

    • Or have a poster that states “Registration” and have a Velcro section to insert an arrow to point attendees in the right direction (which may change from year to year if the venue changes).

      If you are going to reuse the posters, then you might be able to get nicer quality, slightly more expensive ones. Dividing the cost by two or three years will result in a less expensive per-year price than a less expensive one used for only one year. It may give a better impression too!

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The Green Conference

  • - EPA website – look for download of EPA booklet “It’s Easy Being Green”

  • - Green Marketing Industry Council


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The Green Conference

  • Questions or Comments?

Our Contact Information:

Marie Sitter, SPHR, VP – HR, Span America Medical Systems

[email protected] 864-678-6934

Rita Revels, SPHR, HR Manager, Schaeffler Group USA

[email protected] 803-547-7927

Sharon Sellers, SPHR, GPHR, President, SLS Consulting, LLC

[email protected] 843-819-5129

Special thanks to Sharon Sellers for creating our slides.