An Earth Day Reflection on Meetings, Apps and Sustainable Business

Happy Earth Day! In 1995, the local chapters of MPI, PCMA, WAEM, ISES and the Greater Vancouver Regional District all worked together to write the first Green Meetings Guide for Vancouver. We covered all the key areas that are now covered by the APEX/ASTM standards developed by the Convention Industry Council (CIC) and provide a blueprint for planners seeking information to become more sustainable across the mail aspects of their planning.

Fast-forward to 2014, and a group of authors led by the inimitable Mariela McIlwraith have just completed work on the ninth edition of the CIC manual. This is now fully integrated with the CMP blueprint, has sustainability woven through each element, and mirrors the International Standards for Meeting and Event Planning. BCIT has included a Sustainable Event Management Operations class into its core curriculum for event marketing and tourism hospitality programs showcasing the need for understanding our impacts. Sustainability is no longer something separate from planning functions, but can (and should) be easily integrated from the RFP process to the final flight home, and there are many ways to do this.

To me one of the most exciting integrations of sustainability that affects the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit is using mobile. At its most basic, it reduces the requirement for paper, but it also connects participants, allows the key tool to be something most participants have already, and can support the bottom line of a meeting. It is a key part of what drew me to this new role, and upon arriving here I have been very impressed with the many sustainable initiatives woven into the day-to-day life at QuickMobile by and for the employees.

There is a deep commitment, (underlied by being part of the United Nations Global Compact) that requires annual reporting on progress. Some of the initiatives include:

  • ride to work programs with on-site showers for bikers and a secure bicycle storage room
  • no disposables in the kitchen: china and flatware are available
  • filtered water stations for reusable cups
  • the use of long-life LED bulbs
  • rechargeable batteries for devices that require them vs disposables
  • fair hiring practices that embrace diversity – I love hearing multiple languages and having the great knowledge offered from various backgrounds being brought into play each day
  • QuickMobile has donated a stake in the company to the David Suzuki Foundation in partnership with VanCity Equity
  • Donating furniture and electronics used at QuickMobile tradeshow booths (all items were purchased new for the shows) to various Boys & Girls Clubs after the events

At last week’s Green Meetings Industry Council meeting in San Francisco a key theme was about celebrating both successes and failures, and understanding that both are important to evolution. At QuickMobile, the Sustainability Committee is responsible for monitoring these activities above, and for communicating both successes and setbacks directly to the senior management team.

Sustainability begins and ends with people passionate about keeping our planet and ability to have the lifestyle we now enjoy healthy as we grow in the next 40 years to an estimated 9 billion people. Please join us in taking small steps with each and every meeting and event – it’s fun!