An A&M Perspective

GMIC

Our very own Sales Manager Angela Obzud attended the GMIC Conference earlier this month. Here’s what she had to say:

On April 7-9, I had the pleasure of attending the Green Meeting Industry Council Annual Meeting at the McCormick Place in Chicago. Going into this meeting I did not know what to expect since it was my first time attending this conference. My expectations were not only met but exceeded by the enthusiasm and dedication to sustainability which was felt in the room.

One of my favorite parts of the meeting was the keynote speaker Eric Ryan with Method Products. Method Products sell cleaning supplies which are good for the environment.  To hear him speak of how he started by selling to people in store parking lots to now selling 70 million a year was amazing. Ryan’s presentation showed how the events industry can apply theories used by Method Products for planning and sustainability to “get the dirt out of events and meetings.”

Whether you are a meeting planner, supplier or just a green activist you will want to attend next year’s conference or join your local GMIC Chapter and help keep the environment green.

Worth while for next year? I’d say so. For more information on this past GMIC Conference, check out their about page here.

Easter Treats: How do yours rank?

I hope that everyone had a happy Easter!

When I hear Easter, one of my first thoughts is chocolate, of course. How many of you like chocolate? Or perhaps the more appropriate question would be how many of you do not like this sweet delicacy? As Easter approaches each year, stores and markets stock their shelves with the season’s tastiest chocolate delights, and the options are limitless. Craving pastel minis? Head for the m&m’s. Maybe creme-filled eggs stimulate your tastebuds a bit more. Well, Cadbury Eggs are there for you. And, for many, Easter simply isn’t Easter without chocolate bunnies. I think we can all admit to having consumed at least one of these choco-treats at some point in our lives, yes?

Chocolate bunny

But should we be allowing ourselves to have all of these themed goodies? Setting health concerns aside, what about how it’s made? This is where we encounter the concern of Fair Trade. What is Fair Trade? According to fairtradeusa.org, “Fair Trade goods are just that. Fair. From far-away farms to your shopping cart, products that bear our logo come from farmers and workers who are justly compensated. We help farmers in developing countries build sustainable businesses that positively influence their communities.” So, what exactly does this mean? Take a moment to consider all of the chocolate out there. Every supermarket, convenience store, rest-stop, evening clothing shops sell this classic indulgence – If you want chocolate, you can get it. Unfortunatley, not all of our favorites are just, so to speak. Only some are produced by the means of equally treated farmers that are appropritately compensated for their labor. In other words, those producing the cocoa that we seemingly couldn’t live without are frequently exploited and disregarded. Fairtradeusa.org acknowledges that, “Cocoa farmers are often forced to sell their harvest to middlemen who rig scales or misrepresent prices, and media reports of child slavery show the stark contrast between the delicious treat and the difficult conditions of the people who produce it.” Not fair.

Cocoa beans

Still a bit confused? The Guardian posted a relevant quiz regarding this issue that may help to clarify how Easter chocolates relate to Fair Trade. Check out which fall under this category, and which don’t make the cut.

Next time your scoping out Easter treats to shovel into baskets, consider the ethical position of various brands. Was it fairly produced? How about sustainably? Not only will you be helping yourself and your environment, but also the farmers that work day in and day out to fill our shelves with the world’s best, in my opinion, candy.

Tom’s of Maine Labels Sustainability [Corporate Conscious Wednesday]

Inspired by this article on GreenBiz, our Corporate Conscious Wednesday feature this week is Tom’s of Maine!

Tom's of Maine Toothpaste LabelTheir line of sustainable personal care products breaks the mold of eco-friendly marketing by conveying it’s message and purpose right on the label with 6 simple points.

  1. No Animal Testing
  2. Web address to ingredient lists
  3. Value of sustainable practices
  4. No artificial flavors, colors, etc.*
  5. Commitment to recycling, and finally,
  6. Donation of 10% to “human and environmental goodness”

*They even have a section of their website called “Not In Our Products” that makes it easier for customers to see what’s left out! (This is especially great for consumers with allergies or distaste for artificial or harmful ingredients.)

Tom's of Maine LogoTom’s of Maine exudes responsible business in their commitment to creating sustainable products and respecting their customers needs. Mark Dobrovolny, Director of Research and Product Development says, “Every well-run business needs strategic goals – we just believe that those goals need to include things like sustainability as well as profitability.” We think so too! 

Check out their “Reason for Being” for a deeper look inside Tom’s of Maine!

Do you know of any other companies who promote their eco-friendly efforts like Tom’s of Maine? Let us know!

South Mountain Company Creates Strength through Sustainability [Corporate Conscious Wednesday]

As concerns of climate change and the economy become more important, consumers are looking towards companies like our Corporate Conscious Wednesday Winner, South Mountain Company, for innovative ideas that lower production costs and benefit the environment. South Mountain Company, which is based in Martha’s Vineyard, works to develop commercial and residential buildings that promote a stronger, healthier and more efficient community.

This employee-owned company has created a work environment that supports their employees and their local community. Using green building strategies the company helps their customers feel good about the work that they are paying for and allows them to benefit from their decision. South Mountain Company incorporates both solar and wind energy systems to cut production costs. Additionally, the company designs residences that use less square footage, local suppliers, and both recycled and sustainable materials.

These low-impact strategies and community mindset differentiate South Mountain Company. To find out more about the work being done at the South Mountain Company visit their website at www.southmountain.com.

“Pura Vida”: Costa Rica and Our Sustainable Incentive Trip

A few weeks ago, we ran an incentive trip program in Costa Rica and it was absolutely fabulous.  The Costa Rican saying “pura vida” which means “pure life” truly reflects the atmosphere and environment of the country.  Clear blue skies and teal pristine waters surround you in a place where trees are abundant and animals are at your every turn.

In order to really immerse themselves in this new place, our clients chose to go on the El Viejo Wetlands tour. This tour takes place in Palo Verde National Park which is a wildlife refuge that has provided protection for thousands of animals. In the past, people used to come to these wetlands to kill crocodiles for their skin. Now, it is forbidden and against the law to commit such a crime. The Costa Ricans really want to preserve their natural life which is evident by the numerous crocodiles, monkeys and birds we saw along our boat tour.

Not only is the environment in mint condition, but the Four Reasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo is a model for sustainability in the hospitality industry. All of the food they buy is from local farmers that are committed to environmentally sensitive growing techniques. The organic food waste is then donated to a local Tico farmer free of charge who uses it to feed his animals. Land use is limited to 30% of the peninsula leaving 70% untouched and protected for conservation.  In every guest room, there is a bin that is divided into three sections: paper, plastic and waste. This makes it easier for everyone to recycle!

Another interesting fact about this Four Season’s sustainability efforts is that all of their trees are GPS located. If a tree were to fall on the golf course for example, all golf would stop until a photo has been taken and sent to the environmental commission of Costa Rica to ensure that the tree is replaced by another tree.

Since A&M Meetings & Incentives plans meetings and incentive trips with CSR elements, we were especially impressed by their CSR initiatives. For instance, they support “Los Ninos Pinta para Los Ninos”  an organization that helps abandoned and at risk children through the power of art! During the holidays, the resort donates toys to local schools in Guanancaste. Also, in all of the guest rooms they had water bottles that one could purchase to not only be eco-friendly, but to help support underprivileged children in the area as well.

 

Needless to say we would highly recommend that you have your next incentive trip in Costa Rica and stay at the Four Seasons Resort! Contact us today and we can help you start planning.

For more information about the Four Season’s sustainability and CSR efforts please visit thier website.