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  • 7 Feb 2023 8:44 AM | Francis Purvey (Administrator)

    What happens when eliminating food waste and community volunteers collide? Change that can unite communities for the better.

    Thank goodness for volunteers - in hospitals, airports and at events, food pantries and almost everywhere in most communities. In essence the world and many populations rely on volunteers to survive. 

    When Sue Flak, a SENFC Board member and Sunrise Rotary Club of Vero Beach member presented the concept of a Community Fridge to her fellow Rotarians and the city leaders of Fellsmere, Florida (near Vero Beach). She received immediate support - and even a donor for the fridge itself. It opened officially on February 26th, 2022 so will soon be celebrating its one year anniversary. 

    What is a Community Fridge? Quite simply it typically is a household size refrigerator. Sometimes with a pantry. In communities with known food insecurity, food is positioned in an easily accessed and safe location. Food items are donated, and food items are used with the mantra “Take what you need, leave what you can.” Sue Flak shared the purpose of a community fridge “to reduce food waste, build stronger communities and promote equal access to healthy food.”

    And now meet Gail Deroy and Linda Scalco, also members of the Sunrise Rotary Club and avid volunteers for the Fellsmere Fridge. They deliver food, some donated and some paid for out of their own pockets. According to Gail, “As a special education teacher in Rhode Island before retiring and moving to Vero Beach, I have always appreciated that not all people have the same opportunities. Now, when I drop off food at the Fellsmere Fridge and see happy faces coming to take some food, it is heart warming and with huge self satisfaction”. Linda, a former school counselor in New Jersey, added, “I really feel what gratitude is all about and feel it in my heart on every visit”.

    They both acknowledged there are many volunteers supporting the Fellsmere Fridge and are happy to be involved. “Fellsmere Police Chief Keith Touchberry has been particularly supportive,” added Linda. While the corporate donors list is long, Gail recognizes a few regular donors - Publix, Panera, the Food Pantry of Indian River County, and the Shining Light Garden Foundation. These help to ensure that community needs are met by the community, allowing us all to benefit in the rewards of depleting food waste.

  • 16 Aug 2022 3:51 PM | Francis Purvey (Administrator)

    This article was written by Sam Berens, as an op Ed for his UF European sustainability study abroad program.  The Gainesville Sun picked it up and published it on August 7th, 2022.   He recently graduated from University of Florida with a major in Political Science and International studies, and a minor in urban and regional planning.

    In America today, the road to abundance is paved with rotting fruit. At least, that is a cringeworthy example of some of the most frivolous excesses of our waste-based lifestyle. This will not come as a shock to anyone who has ever stepped foot in a Ruby Tuesday “salad” buffet, but Americans waste an average of 30-40 percent of our food supply every year, or roughly 80 billion pounds. 43% of that waste comes from private households. At the same time, roughly 35-50 million Americans, including at least ten million children, are estimated to be food insecure, lacking a reliable meal source. 

    While you should get on cooking that two-week-old asparagus in your bottom shelf right after finishing this article, the most tangible target for policymakers comes from production and distribution. This represents the combined 57% of food waste in America that does not come from private households. On my recent study abroad trip, I was strolling through a French supermarket called Auchan Supermarché. I recalled once reading about laws in France that prohibit grocery stores from wasting food, which was comforting to know as I perused the aisles. Upon further research, I discovered that, while French food waste law is complicated, it is miles ahead of where we are in the United States.

    The first major law in 2016 mandated that supermarkets larger than 400 square meters, (~4300 square feet), must establish a relationship with a charity organization to donate their unsold food. Simultaneously, they prohibited retailers from destroying food that was still “fit for consumption” and mandated that unsold food be handled in accordance with a hierarchy. Thus, the store must first discount the product and inform customers of how their purchases can help prevent waste. After that, food that is still unsold must be donated to charity, then used as animal feed, then composted or used for anaerobic digestion (production of biofuels). If those options are exhausted and still impractical, only then is disposal in the trash permitted. 

    France added to these laws in 2019 and 2020. They required commercial catering operations that produce over 3000 meals a day to follow the waste prevention regulations. They also required caterers at this scale to offer a doggy-bag option, encouraging clients to take all leftovers home. Some purveyors were mandated to publicly display their waste reduction efforts. Finally, the amendments strengthened fines for destroying unsold food and compelled donated products to be shipped out no less than 48 hours before their expiration date. Misunderstanding of “best before” and “use by” dates by consumers contributes massively to food waste and is a reason that dairy is the most common food group to end up in American landfills. 

    Rescued food carts in France; source: The Guardian

    The French laws have not been a panacea for obliterating food waste. As critics note, they do not require a minimum proportion of excess food be donated and do not mandate how frequently the donations must be made. Furthermore, food banks often do not have adequate storage or distribution infrastructure to handle a large influx, meaning they must throw out food too, especially perishable goods. Nevertheless, the laws have encouraged conservation among French grocers, as over 90 percent of French supermarkets donated unsold food in 2018, compared to just 66 percent in 2016. A new industry has cropped up in France of grocery consultants who match stores with charities and recover their food for them, proving especially useful to rural grocers who may be farther from receiving communities. 

    Overcoming Western stigmas around food aesthetics requires innovative branding tactics. French grocer Intermarché did this by planting an “inglorious fruits and vegetables” section in their stores. Since 2014, they have bought the produce that growers toss aside for not meeting industry beauty standards and sold it to customers at a 30 percent discount. Employing humor, they leaned into the stigma and referred to fruits as “the grotesque apple” or “the unfortunate clementine.” The campaign was a gleaming success, boosting store traffic by 24 percent in one month. 

    The status quo is driving climate chaos as 11 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from food waste. 30 percent of food in American grocery stores is thrown out and the restaurant industry loses $162 billion annually to lost food. The case for these changes makes business sense across the supply chain. France wastes 18% of their food, whereas we waste double that proportion. We should emulate the culinary icons across the pond and implement similar legislation in the United States to curb food waste.

  • 6 Feb 2022 11:58 AM | Francis Purvey (Administrator)

    As originally published at

    Despite its many uses, plastic is an enemy to the environment and we as a collective body of human beings use far too much of it. If reducing plastic use was a personal goal for you this year, you’re not alone – a record number of people resolved to use less plastic in 2021 and some brave souls have even adopted trash-free lifestyles. Whether you’re hoping to become more conscious of your daily use of plastic or hoping to actually reduce your consumption, we’ve pulled together some tips that will help to reduce your carbon footprint and aid in the health of our planet.

    1. Ditch the Plastic Bottles
    It’s easy to purchase a Swell bottle (sold at Atelerie in a variety of sizes, shapes and colours) but it’s more difficult to cease purchasing water or soft drinks in plastic bottles altogether. To make it easier, fill your swell bottle with water each day before you leave the house and make the resolution to only purchase drinks sold in cans or glass bottles, which can be recycled.

    2. Say No to Plastic Straws
    While straws are helpful for small children, the elderly and those with special needs, straws don’t have to be plastic. Metal or glass straws can be purchased for a very reasonable price and all you have to do is remember to take one with you when needed.

    3. Carry a Reusable Coffee Cup
    Much like the reasons we carry Swell bottles for water, carrying your own reusable coffee cup can have a massive impact, especially considering the fact that it takes 100 years for a plastic coffee cup and lid to decompose.

    4. Consider the Packaging
    When given the choice, always choose less packaging. A prime example of this would be to choose loose fruit and vegetables rather than produce that comes in plastic bags. Further, skip the plastic bags the supermarket provides for produce and instead purchase reusable produce bags, which can be found at Lindo’s stores.

    5. Use Refill Stations for Detergent
    While we don’t yet have a bulk shopping store in Bermuda where you can fill up on things like rice and oats and seeds using your own mason jars and bags, there is a detergent refill station at Miles Market. Simply buy one of their glass bottles and fill and refill it whenever you need to.

    6. Cut Out Disposable Cutlery
    Plastic cutlery can easily be avoided. Bringing your own fork, knife and spoon along with you in anticipation of digging into a take-out meal is not a difficult thing to do and it’s an impactful way to reduce the use of plastic in Bermuda if we all resolve to do it.

    7. Avoid Microbeads
    There has been a huge crackdown on microbeads in recent years. In the US, the Microbead-Free Waters Act 2015 phased out microbeads in rinse-off cosmetics in July 2017 (thanks, Obama!) and several other countries have also banned microbeads from rinse-off cosmetics, including Canada, France, New Zealand, Sweden, Taiwan and the United Kingdom. Some brands and manufacturers in other parts of the world are still using the micro plastics so it’s a good idea to avoid all toothpastes, face washes and other products that boast microbeads in their makeup.

    8. BYOB
    No, this acronym doesn’t mean bring your own beverage, it stands for Bring Your Own Bag, as in reusable shopping bag. In 2021, this is an obvious one and while most people do shop using their own bags, it’s worth mentioning that many places in the world have banned plastic bags altogether, including Karnataka, India, Kenya, Chile, United Kingdom, Australia and China.

    9. Bake Your Own Bread
    Not only is homemade bread more delicious but it doesn’t come wrapped in plastic.

    10. Start Composting
    Reduce your waste in general by starting a compost heap in your backyard. Food scraps can be added every day and the byproduct is rich, healthy soil you can use to benefit your plants and shrubs.

  • 18 Jun 2021 11:57 AM | Francis Purvey (Administrator)

    Members United for Sustainable Events (MUSE) is happy to be a partner of the Sustainable Event Network of Florida and Caribbean (SENFC).  Today, MUSE founder, Michele Fox is sitting down with the current president of the SENFC, Francis Purvey.

    Hi, Francis, how are you today? 


    I'm excited to learn more about the SENFC.

    It’s an exciting thing, and it's always a work in progress. We’re growing in leaps and bounds with people, especially now as the pandemic effects seem to be diminishing.  People are seeing the need for sustainability in meetings and events again, and they're being re-energized in that direction. 

    Meetings and events are great opportunities for sustainable practices. A lot of us think of conventions, conferences and meetings in hotels and convention centers, but there are also events in cities including  festivals where the public and consumers are involved. And so we’re reaching out to cities and communities, to say, “Hey, there are simple things you can do - or stay away from - to make this event more sustainable.”

    There's food insecurity in many communities and we work with partners such as Food Rescue US, and Feeding Florida.  As the SENFC, we can't possibly do all the work, but we can help others understand the process, implement the solutions, and see the reward.

    It's great that you've all created a local group, even though Florida is a big state.

    Yes, Florida is a large state. And the Caribbean is a multitude of communities, islands, dialects, languages and governments. Islands have a lot of other sustainability challenges such as freshwater, power, and items that are unique to islands.  I grew up on an island, and each house has its own water tank, and you use water with that in mind. If you took a long shower, or ran the water while you brushed your teeth, you’d hear it from your parents. You knew that if you used more water than you should, you’re going to be in trouble. 

    How did you get involved with SENFC?

    I got involved with the SENFC in 2013. Actually in those days it was called the Florida & Caribbean Chapter of the Green Meetings Industry Council. I was the Vice Chair of the SITE (Society for Incentive Travel Excellence) annual global conference in Orlando. We wanted to make the event as sustainable as possible.  I took on that responsibility, and that led me to get involved with all of the providers like the hotels, and all the attractions including Disney and Universal. We created an elaborate document for sustainability. And that's where I personally got started in meetings and events sustainability. 

    The SENFC has grown over time, then we had this little hiccup with COVID 19. And now we're ready to get back in step with everything. The Millennials have brought this to a common public perspective. And now the government is taking it seriously. So I think we're in a great position to participate in this overall momentum, and it’s up to our profession to make sure that people do it right and do it effectively. 

    Food rescue is a key initiative of the SENFC.  Can you tell me more about this?  

    Food rescue, which evolved into the name “Zero Food Waste,” has become one of our initial points. There was so much food waste at events, and there is so much need in the community for this food. The Super Bowl in 2020 in Miami, before COVID, donated 150,000 pounds of food and product that was distributed to the community. Right now we have the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. had to re-engineer their safety and sustainable practices, and they did it successfully. The need is there and everybody feels good about doing it. 

    One of our biggest challenges is that people need to understand there is no liability with food donation. The Good Samaritan Laws enacted over 20 years ago has been effective in discounting liability for people donating food.  People still use that as an excuse, or don't understand that this is no longer an issue. It was an issue. But it is not an issue today in food rescue.

    Can you tell us about some of the guidelines for food rescue?  Do you have to have a refrigerated food truck?

    Yes, there has to be reasonable care taken. For example, once you've put a chafing dish out for a buffet you can't send that to food rescue, but you might have two or three more trays that are still in a cooler or a hot box that can be donated. 

    We’ve found that once hotels or convention centers get used to this, they've managed to do it very well. And they start to think ahead and say, “We've got this event tomorrow, why don't we combine it with this event the next day, and we'll send it out at one time.” Now, there's also a lot of smaller events where it goes directly to a food pantry, or a church, or to someone who needs it. And they deliver it so quickly that the amount of time that it's out of the cooler is insignificant. But you do have to be careful in those types of things.  The Good Samaritan laws are easily understood, in fact, we post them on the SENFC website (HERE).  They're not challenging, but there are policies that you do have to live by.  

    Download the SENFC PDF that simplifies food rescue (HERE).

    What kind of advice would you give to planners just starting on embedding sustainability into their events?

    The most important thing is that you don't start thinking about it the day before the event. You start off at the time you're contracting with a hotel or convention center. Take food rescue as an example: you have to save the food, you have to transport the food, and you have to have somebody to receive the food. And you don't go around the night before saying “Oh, I gotta find a food pantry to do this.”  Although sometimes the hotel will have a food pantry they work with on a regular basis, and they take care of getting it there.

    The key thing is to start at the very beginning, and start thinking about what can be made better in terms of sustainability. Do I absolutely need to have all of these signs? And if I do have signs, do they have to have the year and venue on it? Or can I reuse them next year? What are they made out of? Could I donate them to a school and church nearby? 

    The other big thing is to encourage the use of non single-use water bottles. Try to get people to use reusable water bottles, or get a sponsor to logo reusable water bottles. Or the hotel can use pitchers of water. There are things you have to be careful with right now regarding safety and cleanliness. And I'm not suggesting those are not important. But I’m saying that you have to do what you can.

    Freeman and other organizations have sustainability programs, so you don't build exhibits once and throw them away. You either repurpose or reuse them, and you’ll save money. And make sure that you truck it efficiently. So, there are a lot of things, but the core is think about how you can reuse things, get started early, start working with your hotels and vendors. Then the other part of it is communicating to your attendees: get them on board early, get them anticipating what to expect.

    Use apps instead of paper, or print on both sides. There are a lot of things people can do.  So from the large convention to somebody just getting started, I would say start early, plan for it, engage everyone, and communicate it to everyone. 

    And at the end of the program, write down what you accomplished, we saved this much water, or we saved this many bags of trash, or we recycled this many cans of sodas.  Share that with your constituents, your stakeholders, your attendees to make them feel good. And this also creates a benchmark so you can do even better next year. But don't think it can all be done by one person. And don't think it can be done overnight.

    What would you say to a person that feels overwhelmed by recording all the measurements and the benchmarking?

    Sometimes it can be as easy as saying we distributed 10 trays of food, or we made this particular donation, or we recycled 10 bags of materials. 

    Something you have to remember is that you can have all the biodegradable products in the world and feel great about it. But the minute you throw them into a plastic garbage bag and put them out, it’s doing no good because they won't decompose in those garbage bags. Make sure everything is disposed of or recycled properly.

    There are ways you can individually calculate carbon to offsets your flights. I think that's marvelous. But the more you, as a planner, can get your partners and providers  involved in your process, the more they become proficient at it, so they can do it with other people going forward. 

    And I guess that's where the whole expansion takes place. As you convince one person to get involved, they make the connection and it just goes on from there. 

    How have you found ways to save money when making events more sustainable?  

    There used to be a considerable cost if you are going to be sustainable. For example, switching to LED lights has an immediate cost, but there’s a huge, long-term saving.

    There’s a resort in Aruba called Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort, and they’ve won the Global United Nations 2020 Climate Neutral Now Award, which is an incredible accomplishment.. The owner said he looked at everything from the perspective of saving and waste reduction. And he even looked at the plates he was serving food on in the restaurant, and reduced the size of the plate and reduced the size of the portions. Not dramatically, but he saw that people were not finishing their meals. And so he took it upon himself to reduce the size of the portions with no complaints, no comments. And as a result, he saves money on food costs. And two, he saves a significant amount on the food waste pickup. So if people think outside the box, and realize they can make changes, then we've all won. 

    What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

    I think we're all excited that we’re getting out and getting beyond feeling so confined. And the need for face to face meetings has certainly been proven. There's also a pent up demand for travel. And so we’re very optimistic that meetings and events are going to be revived. And realizing we have to change our behaviors and openly accept change. There's no better time than right now to realize that change is inevitable. And let's grasp it and run with it.


    Join the SENFC:

  • 16 Mar 2021 10:38 AM | Francis Purvey (Administrator)

    The Great Restart - Regeneration

    By: Melissa Baird – The GDS-Movement (UK)

    A ground breaking research paper undertaken by IMEX, Marriott International and the GDS Movement presents a new paradigm in destination management and a future inspired by nature's principles for life.

    Threats and Opportunities

    The global pandemic is just one of many that is threatening global economic and social stability. There is rampant pollution, the decline and extinction of species and the impacts of extreme weather on vulnerable communities. As poverty increases so do the inequalities in the distribution of wealth and natural resources. This extraordinary context means it is no longer good enough to talk about sustaining a broken system, instead a focus on regenerating the social, economic and ecosystems upon which we depend is now critical.

    These extraordinary factors can be put to best use by ushering in a ´great reset´. How can we rethink, reimagine, and redesign a new restorative, resilient, inclusive and zero carbon growth model? By doing so we can restore and rejuvenate the planet, its people and create a heathier economy.

    Wasted Resources

    Every year more than 100 billion metric tonnes of raw materials are extracted and converted into products. Less than 8.6% of these materials are recycled back into the economy. While millions go hungry, 30% of the food produced is wasted equating to 6% of global emissions, more than double those produced from flying. 

    The report highlights the plastic pandemic. If plastic use were a country, it would be the fifth largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. A staggering 91% of plastic is not recycled which means 11 million metric tonnes enter the ocean each year. This annual flow to the oceans is predicted to triple to 29 million metric tonnes by 2040. By 2050, plastic production and incineration (at its current rate) could triple to 2.8 gigatons of CO2 per year, releasing emissions equivalent to 615 five-hundred-megawatt coal plants.

    These are big numbers but the impacts on marine life and coastal communities will be more than just big numbers.

    Circular Solutions

    In nature there is no such thing as greed or waste and the infinitely complex system self regulates to ensure balance and conditions conducive to life. In the critical times we are facing, we need to be inspired by natural, functioning systems, and work in collaboration with innovators to improve our planetary and social impact.

    Accenture calculated that the circular economy is the world's largest opportunity, with the potential to unlock $4.5 trillion growth. Cambridge Economics estimates that applying circular economy principles across the EU economy has the potential to create around 700,000 new jobs and create a net benefit of €1.8 billion by 2030.

    In a circular and regenerative economy, economic activity builds and rebuilds overall system health. It is restorative and regenerative by design. The concept recognises the importance of the economy needing to work effectively on all levels – for big and small businesses, for organisations and individuals, globally and locally.

    HANNUWA - a Framework for Regeneration


    The GDS Movement has developed a framework and set of tools that support event suppliers, organisers, and educators on their journey of transformation. Their approach is summed up in the word: Hannuwa, an ancient San word from South Africa that means the gathering of good fortune through living in harmony with our natural environment.

    It comprises of four key principles and an eight-step methodology, which serves to educate and guide event organisers towards more regenerative event management that includes considerations of designing for inclusivity and diversity.

    A Regenerative Future, Inspired by Nature

    Regenerative events have a focus on quality, effectiveness, harmony, and wellness. They are circular by design aiming for energy, natural resources, and materials to be conserved, enriched, reused, recycled and used to enhance equitable development. They design out waste and pollution, and improve resilience by increasing diversity, inclusivity, and equality. They also focus on regenerating and rejuvenating natural systems and communities.

    Taking the First Step

    A key purpose of the research is to pose important questions to the meetings and events industry that catalyse dialogue and stimulate debate and collaboration. It is the first in a series of #Natureworks research papers sponsored by IMEX and Marriot International) showcasing outstanding examples of initiatives in the events sector tackling food waste, show waste, social unity and stability that have utilised circular strategies for the benefit of all stakeholders.

    “A return to ‘business as usual’ would not just be a monumental failure of imagination, but lock in the inequities laid bare by the pandemic and the inevitability of more devastating crises due to climate breakdown” - C40 Mayors Agenda for a Green and Just Recovery

    “In an ecosystemic approach pollution, greed, unemployment, waste, inequalities and poverty - among others - are human inventions. Thus, they can and should be designed out of our next model of life.” - Alexandre Lemille  

    Considering the Whole Value Chain

    To activate regenerative strategies will require engagement, collaboration, and empowerment across the entire stakeholder base. Every link in the chain has a social, environmental, and economic impact and as such each are responsible for co-creating solutions that will transform not only the sector but everything that is affected and dependent on it. Collaboration is key and all stakeholders from local government, academia, businesses, NGOs, and social enterprises can contribute to create nature-based solutions that regenerate local ecosystems and improve people’s livelihoods in the face of climate threats and social change.

    “The word regenerative means creating the conditions conducive for life to continuously renew itself, to transcend into new forms, and to flourish amid ever-changing life-conditions.” - Regenerative Leadership by Giles Hutchins and Laura Storm


    About the GDS Movement - The GDS-Movement unites and enables destination management professionals to create flourishing and resilient places to visit, meet and live in. Our mission is to co-create sustainable and circular strategies, mindsets and skill sets that will enable destinations of the future to thrive, and society and nature to regenerate.

    Download the full report The Regenerative Revolution

  • 24 Feb 2021 2:01 PM | Francis Purvey (Administrator)

    By Al Mercuro, Trade Show & Event Specialist: Helping clients create dynamic experiential marketing programs with sustainability

    It may seem a little strange to say it now in the middle of a pandemic, but this might be the ideal time to reinvent how we exhibit at events with an eye towards sustainability.

    In recent years there has been a movement toward minimizing waste in the event industry, from minimizing printed materials to laying down carpet tiles that can be re-used. Nancy Zavada founder and president of MeetGreen, was thinking outside the box when she found a way to donate graphic murals from the IMEX America show, which often get trashed after one show, to a senior citizen home for use in their common areas.

    But one hurdle that hasn’t been overcome is the problem of what is known as “Build & Burn.” That’s when a custom exhibit is built for a particular event and when the show is over it literally gets tossed into a landfill. I hope it’s obvious that this practice is inherently wasteful, but while it has largely fallen out of favor in the U.S., Build & Burn is still commonplace in Europe and Asia.

    A few years ago, for example, one of my financial clients needed me to design and build three 20-foot inline exhibits, one for the US, one for Europe, and one for Asia. She accepted our proposal for two of the three but said she found a much lower price for the exhibit in Asia. I warned her about the Build & Burn issue and asked her whether the exhibit will be designed and constructed for long-term, multiple-event use. Well, three months later she called me to say the vendor disposed of the exhibit after the first show.

    “Even though there are increased efforts internationally to use sustainable or recycled materials in the construction of trade show exhibits, Build & Burn is still the predominant method of booth construction in many parts of the world,” says Tom Beard, Regional Sales Manager of Classic Exhibits. “It has a major impact on the environment due to the amount of materials sent to a landfill.”

    There are some legitimate reasons why companies choose Build & Burn exhibits. Some shows may only happen once every three or four years and exhibitors won’t want to pay to have their exhibits shipped back and stored, especially if they’ll need new design and graphics to match the company’s future marketing messages.

    However, there are eco-friendly alternatives to Build & Burn. One alternative is what some call “Euro-Booths.” They’re modular designs based on a common white-wall structure, each with the same counter. Exhibitors rent the booth and just bring their graphics. The booths are reusable and since they’re usually stored on-site or near the venue, they also cut down on shipping costs

    “Rentals are the most eco-friendly way to exhibit internationally,” says Beard of Classic Exhibits.

    Some vendors, however, want a unique look that will differentiate them from their competitors. To fill that niche, some vendors are now offering custom rental solution that looks more like a custom-built exhibit with the sustainability benefits of a reusable exhibit.

    As companies increasingly emphasize sustainability throughout their businesses, they’ll want to work with event partners that can support those goals through re-usable alternatives, that often also save money, rather than wasteful Build & Burn exhibits.

    “From what I’ve heard, the tide is turning from Build & Burns based on awareness of the wastefulness of it in some areas and the associated shipping/labor/disposal costs,” says Candy Adams, The Booth Mom, expert Exhibit Management Trainer and well known Tradeshow Speaker, “Another cost factor is the availability of more aluminum extrusion systems/SEG (silicone edged graphic) fabrics; it’s getting to the point of being cheaper to rent the extrusion, and print it in Asia and ship it to shows, rather than building a one-time-use exhibit onsite and then trashing it.”

     As we look toward the day when live events resume, let’s hope that sustainability becomes an important part of the conversation. The Pandemic Pause could provide an important opportunity to rethink the events business and move past Build & Burn exhibiting. Glenda Brungardt, Global Tradeshow/Event Manager at tech giant HP said it best. “Bottom line for me: Build & Burn may be a simple solution for a specific show. But as an event planner it is my job to look at the bigger picture and what impact my choices in the construction of a booth have not only on the environment but also on the brand I represent.”

  • 18 Aug 2020 6:49 PM | Anonymous

    Pre and Post-Wedding Events

    Pre and post-wedding events including wedding showers and bridal brunches are a smart time to introduce sustainable planning. 

    1. My #1 favorite sustainable tip is a flavored water station using real stemware – and avoiding single-use paper products. Be creative by using local seasonal fruits and herbs to infuse the water.

    2. Real stemware is elegant and green. If you are hosting your event at a private home, consider hiring some help with dishes and cleaning up afterward. 

    3. Rental dishes and stemware is an environmentally responsible choice with many options to fit your decor or theme. 

    4. Vintage stemware and dishes can be purchased at very affordable prices and are guaranteed to be noticed – and unique! After the event, you can gift the pieces to the bride and groom – or re-sell them to an antique dealer. 

    5. Repurpose flower petals from an earlier event to make beautiful floral ice cubes. 

    Event Venue Sustainability

    When choosing your event venue ask questions about their practices and policies to #GoGreen. 

    6. Schedule your wedding and reception at the same venue to cut down on transportation needs – and your carbon footprint.  

    7. Don’t hide the trash: place recycling bins in spots at the venue where guests can see them – and use them! 

    8. Choose restaurants that offer sustainable and eco-friendly menus and service. Look for seasonal, local foods; suppliers who follow green practices; environmentally conscious decor and lighting and waste policies that promote recycle and reuse.


    Select a caterer who supports your event sustainability goals and can contribute their own ideas for ethically sourced foods.  

    9. Request disposable and biodegradable serving pieces. Bio & Chic specializes in eco-friendly dinnerware and disposable catering supplies.  

    10. Source your alcohol from local wineries, distilleries and breweries as a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and feel great when you #ShopLocal. 

    11. ONEHOPE Wine gives back with every bottle of their Napa wine purchased. Each glitter bottle provides 15 meals to children in need. We all can drink to that! 

    12. Find a local bakery that sources local, all-natural ingredients such as seasonal berries and edible flowers and uses eco-friendly practices to prepare and deliver wedding cakes and deserts.

    13. Food waste from events is a tragedy considering the number of families that are hungry. Plan your event based on local food donation guidelines and find a way to safely donate leftover foods such as Feeding South Florida’s MealConnect app. 

    14. Choose a meal caterer that supports local farmers. 

    15. Sustainability can be fun! Here in South Florida (where plastic straws are banned) a cocktail looks better with a sugarcane straw!  Cookie or chocolate straws are also fun green options to serve event drinks.

    Green Couture

    From weddings to special occasions, pre-worn couture is a family tradition that is also sustainable! 

    16. For decades family traditions have included passing a cherished wedding gown from mother to daughter to granddaughter. Baby baptisms often feature christening outfits worn for generations.  

    17. Something borrowed, something blue… jewelry is another opportunity to reuse and repurpose. Engagement rings are often redesigned for a new bride-to-be by setting an existing stone into a new band.

    18. Estate jewelry sales offer one-of-a-kind antique, vintage and jewelry pieces. A nationwide favorite place to buy estate jewelry is the annual Original Miami Beach Estate Jewelry Show that is held every January – a perfect time to enjoy South Florida weather!

    19. A pre-loved or vintage wedding gown that is ready for a second walk down the aisle is easily sourced online at shops like Stillwhite or from local vendors.

    20. Rent a bridal gown or Nearly Newly Wed are special occasion and wedding dress national vendors – who also buy wedding and occasion gowns!

    21. Consignment shops are also a great place to find veils and bridal accessory. Online marketplace Etsy has many vendors who sell vintage bridal accessories. 

    22. After your event, consider donating your dress to brides against breast cancer or a special occasion dress to an organization that provides prom dresses for high school girls who can’t afford them. 

    Wedding Gifts and Favors

    Many couples who are getting married simply don’t need more things – but care very much about those who are in need. 

    23. For your wedding registry, sign up for the I Do Foundation where your guests and loved ones can help you celebrate generously and make a charitable donation in lieu of a gift. 

    24. In lieu of gifts, consider asking guests to volunteer their time and participate in a beach clean-up, at a local food kitchen or Habitat for Humanity. 

    25. If you receive a duplicate wedding gift, local half-way houses are always in need of home goods. 

    26. Create a biodegradable cloth menu that doubles as a napkin and event SWAG or wedding favor. 

    27. For guest Welcome bags use fabric totes rather than paper bags as a charming memory of the wonderful time they had at your event.

    Flowers and Decor

    Cut flowers don’t last long – but they will last far beyond your event and can give pleasure to others.

    28. Research local organizations such as Petals with purpose, Random acts of flowers Rebloom  and Repeat roses that will pick up your post-event arrangements and donate them to local hospitals, police stations or senior centers. 

    29. Select a sustainable florist who composts flower trimmings, re-uses vases and recycles leftover arrangements and trim. 

    30. Choose seasonal blooms that are grown locally.  

    31. Design your event recycled paper menus or made of Plantable Paper flower seeds. 

    32. Skip the rice or birdseed and cheer the wedding couple with eco-friendly send-offs biodegradable confetti, custom floralfetti, sproutfetti or coconut flake confetti. 

    Gifts For The Bridal Party

    A special gift from the bride and groom to their wedding party is even more thoughtful when it is kind to our planet.

    33. Choose environmentally-friendly spa and self-care products.

    34. Select tasty local specialties sourced from your local farmers market. South Florida’s Delray Beach Greenmarket offers everything for a fabulous destination- themed gift basket from soaps to honey to doggie treats to gourmet products – and everything in between. 

    Events The Give Back

    Adding a charitable component to your wedding or corporate event lets guests donate to a cause that is close to your heart. 

    35. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) events can benefit local or national non-profits with activities such as silent auctions, in-kind or matching donations, bridal money dances or money trees and other ways to benefit your designate charity.  

    Sustainable Event Management
    However you decide to celebrate your special event, the extra time and effort required to design a sustainable event makes Mother Earth a better place for all of us. Sustainable Event Managers can guide you in making eco-friendly green choices that make a difference and have a long-lasting impact. The benefits of sustainable practices that minimize your environmental footprint are very doable for your wedding or special occasion. 

    written and originally published by Anna Hess of Anna Hess Events

  • 18 Aug 2020 12:28 PM | Anonymous

    10 Sustainable Ideas for Post-Corona Practices in the M.I.C.E industry to meet the new hygienic standards 

    Disposable items seem to be the apparent easy solution to keep things clean and safe when facing the post era of an epidemic. But do not throw out the baby with the bath water! We have come a long way these last few years regarding solutions to slow man-made climate change, which has its own health challenges down the road. It is still absolutely possible, safe, hygienic and in the interest of our health now and especially in the future to use sustainable practices. Take a look at this list of 10 good practices for the post-Corona event industry in keeping events safe and sustainable! 

    Remember: If we are not part of the solution, then we are part of the pollution! 

    Meeting/ Conference Set-ups: 

    1) SIGNAGE: Instead of print-outs, make signs reusable (for instance by avoiding the year of the conference), or even better: Make use of electronic sign boards! 

    2) PENS, PENCILS AND PAPER: Use note pads made out of recycled paper. If you want to offer pens for a one-time use, consider those made out of paper, which will compose centuries faster than plastic. And to note down great ideas with pencils, try using a “sprout pencil”. When it’s time to stop writing, you can start planting the end of it! It contains seeds, that you can plant (anything from “Forget-me-not to Thyme). Before you know it, you will see vibrant flowers or fragrant herbs. 

    3) IN-ROOM TECHNOLOGY: By using smart technology in meeting space from temperature controls to lights you can make an almost effortless positive impact, especially when you don’t forget to turn it off when not in use! 

    4) EVENT APPS: Luckily, we live in the tech age and many things that once were disposable such as hand-outs or even binders are almost a dinosaur of the past. So let’s embrace it by using Apps instead of printed agendas. By using e-signage over printed signs, especially those on foam-boards. By sending invitations and registrations strictly digitally (so much easier to track as well!). 

    Food & Beverage: 

    5) FOOD CONTAINERS: Use eco-friendly containers made out of 100% compostable natural fibers from harvested wheat or corn. These boxes are gluten-free, eco-friendly, microwave and oven safe. Unlike plastic and Styrofoam containers, no harmful chemicals will leach into the food.  For some foods, containers made out of paper might be the solution: BioPlus Terra II boxes are made in the USA from 100% recycled paperboard and certified by BNQ to be 100% compostable in a commercial facility. Grease & moisture resistant due to a non-GMO lining, these boxes have no plastic, PFAS or flourine-based chemicals. 

    6) DISPOSABLE CUTLERY: A great alternative to plastic are those made from bamboo or wood. BTW: Using real silverware that will be washed later in a dishwasher are safe as well! 

    7) STRAWS: Traditional plastic straws are nearly impossible to recycle as their shape makes it difficult to fit through recycle sorter machines. These typically end up in the landfill or worse. Compostable & biodegradable straws fully compost in commercial compost facilities and paper straws marine degradable. There are several types of great alternatives: Paper Straws - made from FSC Certified paper in a variety of colors and sizes. OR PLA Straws: Made with corn-based bioplastic PLA that is compostable, non-toxic and as strong as traditional plastic. OR “The Naked Straw” made from Avocado Pits! The added benefit here is that it’s made from agro-waste! To keep it hygienic, look for packaging made out of paper, for instance rice paper, rather than plastic! The devil is sometimes in the details! 

    8) TEA BAGS: Forget about plastic spoons and stirrers, the Sprout®SPOON is a fully biodegradable spoon and tea bag in one. Simply unfold, brew in hot water and enjoy a cup of delicious fair trade tea. And what tastes great feels even better. This clever spoon can be broken down by nature’s own composting processes. 

    9) MENU CARDS: Print your menus on seeded paper and ask your attendees to take them home with them. This is a win-win- for all in many ways: No trash left behind. The attendee can plant this seeded paper in his yard or flower pot, where the paper will turn to compost and the embedded seeds will turn into flowers. A few weeks later, your event will still be remembered – in a great way! 

    10) WATER: Plastic water bottles seem the easy solution, but it’s the worst for our planet! There are plenty of alternatives that in the long run are more healthy. Remember that with each sip you take from a plastic bottle, you are ingesting a tiny part of the plastic – sometimes you can even taste it. Use water-filling stations instead that meet today’s hygienic standards: Touch-free and provide a reusable container, whether it is a glass or a reusable stainless steel bottle. Over the course of a day, the cost you save from using water dispensers and offering branded stainless steel bottles will offset the cost a hotel has to charge you for the plastic bottles. 

    BONUS: REUSABLE MASKS! Support a local charity producing hand-sewn masks! This will surely be a good conversation starter and won’t end up in the trash! In fact, it will be a good reminder of your event! 

    Almost all of these products, you can also customize with your logo or brand message, making it an ideal way for your company or organization to spread your sustainability story and get people talking. Most of the products are also made in the USA and make for less shipping-carbon-offset as well as supporting the local economy. 

    This list was put together with the best of intentions to keep a tsunami of pollution at bay as participants face some uncertainty in the post-Corona pandemic. The vendors mentioned have not endorsed us in any way and there are others out there, this might just be a start for you to explore. It is not a complete list, please share other good sustainable practices and ideas with us! 

    About Cocoon Incentives 

    The philosophy of Cocoon Incentives is to create long term memories with the events and services we offer to you. This goes hand in hand with a sustainable approach to nature and our resources, both human and natural. 

    Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) done right is a win-win for everybody involved: It creates a bonding factor between your clients or employees and your brand. It helps the community or project you selected. And it certainly boosts your company's image and your attendees’ spirit. 

    Cocoon Incentives and its trademark "Think Outside Your Cocoon" is the brainchild of founder Steffi Kordy, a German native with many years of experience in the hospitality and M.I.C.E. industry. She has lived and worked on six continents, for the last 20 years in Chicago and Florida. As such she has worked in the hospitality industry in various capacities. She has written several books on travel, culture, and trends, and is a frequent contributor to magazines and newspapers. She also has a "green heart" and is passionate about corporate responsibility and sustainability in the services she provides. She currently serves as the "Sustainability Chair" on the board for SITE (Society of Incentive Travel Excellence) Florida & Caribbean. 

    Learn more at 

  • 30 Jul 2020 1:43 PM | Anonymous

    Saving The Planet seems very daunting as a personal goal, perhaps left better to governments and major socially responsible entities.  But each of us can participate in our everyday life to impact the earth’s survival.  While the Sustainable Events Network, Florida & Caribbean encourages meeting and event planners to become professionally engaged in food recovery, recycling and repurposing, utilizing biodegradable products and other corporately responsible protocols, we are here today to say that each person can play a part in the overall sustainability goals.  

    Knowing the staggering food waste statistics and looking beyond the obvious – buying only the fresh produce you will use in short periods and serving only the amount that will be consumed at each meal – think of ways you can create a zero waste home.  Some thoughts:  print documents two-sided, use rechargeable batteries, fix leaky faucets, buy recycled paper products, install energy saving lighting, and there’s many more.  When you break it down into small steps, you realize you have more power than you thought.

    After experiencing a global pandemic, most people are apt to ditch their planet friendly habits and start using disposable products more routinely.  Don’t believe the hype. Reusable products are just as sanitary when cleaned regularly and stored properly, they actually save families significant amounts of money too.  Single use plastic water bottles are still serious sustainability offenders.   

    Have you thought of a small vegetable garden?  Growing your own vegetables is a fun family project and then you can use discarded vegetable stems and leaves to fertilize your garden. If not a vegetable garden, then fresh herbs require a small space and are easy to maintain.

    a backyard garden is a fun & sustainable family project!

    A backyard garden is a fun & sustainable family project

    Palm Beach County utilizes a twin-stream recycling program – the yellow bin is for paper products and the blue bin is to co-mingle containers (aluminum, steel cans, plastic containers and glass and jars).  No plastic bags or Styrofoam go in anything other than regular garbage.  Better yet, don’t use them.  More information is at

    Considering we have all been quarantined for the last few months, you are ready to start planning in-person social events - birthday parties, baby showers, weddings, and reunions. If your family is planning one of these celebrations, consider sprinkling in a few sustainable ideas and using the process to teach your family, friends and neighbors about the environmental effects your choices will generate for the future of our planet.  

    utilize biodegradable balloons to liven up events

    Utilize 100% biodegradable latex balloons to liven up events

    “I personally believe that guests will remember a sustainable event more than an event that does not demonstrate a concern for our community and environment.  Let guests know about your choices and educate them on why you made the choices you did on decor, recycling, centerpieces, gifts, or utensils. Once they understand, they will feel like they are a part of the process and will get inspired to incorporate a few green ideas into their next party”, said Candace Maser, President of the National Association of Wedding Professionals in Palm Beach County and SENFC enthusiast.

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