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Susty Things I Loved in 2012

December 31, 2012

2012 was a big year.

Our book was published, my youngest started Kindergarten, and I had the opportunity to visit some great places. During my travels, I collected several snapshots of sustainable events, practices and venues and have compiled them into a list of my favourites from 2012.

Disclosure: In case you’re wondering – this post is completely biased and the comments are not endorsements. Almost all of these images refer to industry friends or to organizations/events that have hired me as a speaker in the past year. That said, I think it’s a shame to not celebrate the great things that are being done by these individuals and organizations.


Where: Copenhagen, Denmark
What: Sustainable Transportation

I was amazed by the great public transportation system in Copenhagen. Everyone rides it, including this little guy and lots of people with their bicycles. Speaking of bicycles – I am convinced that I saw more bikes than cars in Copenhagen, even though it was cold and snowy. I recommend picking up a Copenhagen Card for admission to several attractions and unlimited use of the metro. I also learned a great word for the holidays “Hygge”, which Visit Denmark defines as “creating a nice, warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people around you.”


Where: Ottawa Convention Centre, Canada
What: Compost bins at a tradeshow

I’ve seen composting bins in a few venues this year, but these ones at the OCC were by far the classiest and were located near the buffet to help with the important issue of food waste. While I still believe that we need to reduce food waste before it happens, composting is a positive step towards managing it after it has been produced.


Where: Kimpton Hotels, Oregon, USA
What: Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

In my last post, I wrote about EPR and how happy I was to see an example of a manufacturer taking responsibility for product disposal – even if the example came from the in-room honour bar. These toothbrushes can be mailed back to the manufacturer for recycling.


Where: Tampa Marriott Waterside, USA
What: Rooftop Garden

I had heard that this hotel had converted a pool-side kitchen into a rooftop farm, and so I went investigating in the middle of the night to find it.  FYI – the hotel saves $1000 a month in lettuce costs alone from their venture. While transportation emissions only represent a small percentage of the carbon footprint of food, I love the freshness, flavour and impact on local economies of local food.


Where: IMEX America, Las Vegas, USA
What: Alternative Energy

I love the bike blender that has been accompanying the Tourism Vancouver team to different tradeshows. Here it is being powered by Glenn Thayer, who I highly recommend as a moderator/host if you’re planning a hybrid event and want to ensure that your live and virtual audiences are engaged and your content and goals are effectively delivered.


Where: Museo del Acero, Monterrey, Mexico
What: Repurposed Recyclables

I had the opportunity to visit this museum in Monterrey, and loved the wall display of painted plastic soda pop bottles converted into planters. The number of plastic items that are thrown away each year is astounding, and the impact on the ocean is particularly troublesome, so to see them used in this way made me smile.


Where: Canada Day Celebrations, North Vancouver, Canada
What: Sunscreen Stations

Outdoor events on hot summer days are wonderful, and they also carry important risks: sunburn, heat stroke and dehydration. Save Your Skin Foundation set up a sunscreen station at a Canada Day Celebration in North Vancouver.


Where: Somewhere above Iceland
What: Styrofoam Avoided

I really don’t like polystyrene, and have found that several airlines use them for their in-flight service. That’s why I was so happy to see that Icelandair uses paper cups.


Where: White Point Beach Resort, Nova Scotia, Canada
What: Bunny Food

In November 2011, White Point Beach Resort‘s Main Lodge was destroyed in a fire. This summer, I was able to visit and there were so many things that were inspiring, from the incredible views, to the clear commitment to sustainability and the undeniable welcoming nature of Nova Scotians. But what struck me the most was a basket full of bunny food for the hundreds of wild rabbits that live on the property – even when preoccupied with a massive reconstruction, they didn’t forget the bunnies. The lodge is now reopened and I highly recommend it!


Where: San Francisco Airport, USA
What: Water Bottle Refill Stations

I love the trend towards having water bottle refill stations in public areas and event venues. In addition to this one at SFO, I spotted them in the Tampa Convention Center and the Clarion Hotel Arlanda in Stockholm.


Where: Prince George Hotel, Halifax, Canada
What: Sustainability Communication

This little frog prince can be found in each of the rooms of the Prince George Hotel in Halifax and draws attention to the towel and linen reuse programs in the hotel.


Where: CINTERMEX, Monterrey, Mexico
What: Ashtrays turned planter boxes

As someone with asthma, I really value smoke-free environments. I loved this example of an ashtray-turned-planter as a way of continuing to use the waste bins even though they had ashtrays on the top. FYI – According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 235 million people suffer from asthma.


Where: Las Vegas, USA
What: Tradeshow materials turned into an art exhibit

Repurpose America helps conventions to repurpose non-recyclable materials. When I was in Las Vegas for IMEX this fall, I met CEO Zachary Delbex who invited me to attend an art exhibit made almost entirely from materials that they had collected from tradeshows.


Where: CMP Conclave, Tampa Bay, USA
What: Donation in lieu of delegate gifts

I thought it was great that Tampa & Company made a donation to Make a Wish Foundation instead of delegate gifts at the CMP Conclave this year. I love seeing this type of commitment to the community and hope to see more of this in 2013.


Where: Costa Rica Trade Show Booth, ICOMEX
What: Bags made from recycled materials

These bags are made from 80% post-consumer waste materials, mostly bottles and polymer bags by Grupo Britt. In looking over their website, I found that they have another program that employs women from a high-risk neighbourhood to make tote bags from their own waste packaging.


Where: Fundidora Park, Monterrey, Mexico
What: Shipping containers turned into food stands

I had never seen a shipping container turned into a a restaurant before spotting this one in Fundidora Park in Monterrey, Mexico, but I have since learned that they are popping up around the world.


Where: SACC Conference, San Diego, USA
What: Boxed water

Technically, I didn’t attend the Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges conference, but my husband did and he brought one of these back from the event. Although I will always prefer a refillable bottle, boxed water provides a better alternative to bottled and can be a practical way of taking water to outdoor events where dehydration may be a concern.


Where: Tijuana, Mexico
What: Anti-littering signs

This may be a stretch for a post about sustainability, but I’m going to label it as waste management. This chewing-gum covered sign, which roughly translates to “Throwing out your gum is prohibited.” located outside Caesar’s Restaurant in Tijuana (home of the original Caesar salad), made me laugh. And, for the record, it was highly effective at keeping the street clear of gum.


Where: Tampa Bay, USA
What: Bike rentals

Bike rentals are a great trend that I’ve seen in many destinations, though I think that this waterside setting was the most picturesque. I’ve also noticed that several hotels are now offering them to guests to use during their stay. I think it’s a great way to promote exercise, low-carbon travel and local tourism. The most innovative bike program I’ve seen was in Montreal this summer where a partnership with Telus turned the bikes into free, pedal-powered wi-fi stations.


Where: Clarion Arlanda, Stockholm, Sweden
What: Gluten and lactose free buffet items

I was so happy to see a section of the (phenomenal) breakfast buffet at the Clarion Hotel Arlanda Airport dedicated to gluten, lactose and sugar free items. They also features these items in the coffee break for the conference that I attended.


Where: Halifax Waterfront, Canada
What: Solar compactors

The Halifax Waterfront has installed Big Belly Solar waste and recycling stations. The sections include can and bottle recycling, garbage, paper recycling and organics. The build-in solar powered compactors reduce collection frequency. They have also been effective at encouraging recycling rates, especially beverage containers, with a reported 95% diversion rate within 3 months and combined diversion rate of 83% for containers and paper.


Where: Geo Aventura Resort, Nuevo Leon, Mexico
What: Solar panels

I attended a team building activity at this eco-tourism resort this past fall, and was really impressed by their local hiring practices and these solar panels that they use to provide part of their energy needs.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Dennis Shiao permalink
    January 1, 2013 6:06 am

    What a fantastic list! Thanks for sharing it. The list proves to me that sustainability can effect real change on our planet – based around the spirit and creativity in all of us. My favorites: Copenhagen Card, toothbrush recycling, bunny food, art exhibit from trade show materials and the gum wall.

    As a side note, I visited Seattle in 2012 and got a kick out of their gum wall:

    • January 1, 2013 11:30 am

      Thanks, Dennis! Glad you liked it! Thanks as well for the link to the gum wall. I had never seen it!

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