The Blogher Conference was kinda overwhelming. I feel like I’ve returned from another planet and need to be quarantined and debriefed. It was refreshing to go out to dinner last night with Michael and his sister and cousin and find out that they had never heard of Twitter. Have you? Because I had heard of it, and even signed up for it months ago, and then never “tweeted” because I didn’t understand why I should. But OMG, everyone at Blogher08 was tweeting up a storm. So, never one to resist peer pressure, I started tweeting too. Wanna follow me?
It was fun to hang out with some real live green gals whom I’d only so far met through cyberspace. From left to right: Jenn from The Smart Mama, me, Michelle from Green Bean Dreams and Jenn from Tiny Choices. Mamabird from Surely You Nest preferred to take the picture rather than be in it.
We also met Green L.A. Girl Siel, Have Fun * Do Good’s Britt Bravo, and Big Green Purse’s Diane MacEachern, as well as several other green and socially conscious bloggers. I’m sorry to have missed Aurora from Foxy Art Studio and Vanessa from Random Ramblings. Next time, we have to make a better plan for meeting up. (Like, we need to make a plan. Period.)
Heading for lunch after the meetup, we saw this…
…and the five of us (Jenn, Jenn, Green Bean, MamaBird, and I) decided to find plastic-free food elsewhere. Great conversation was enjoyed with okay food from the Emporio Rulli il Caffe on Union Square, served up on durable tableware, except for the plastic-packaged breadsticks and salad dressing that I returned to the server.
Later, we found out that the Blogher lunch was actually packaged in compostable PLA containers, not regular plastic, and will be composted in San Francisco’s commercial composting facility. Even still, the following day, Jenn, Jenn and I passed up the free lunch and took a stroll to the San Francisco Ferry Building for a nearly waste-free lunch at Mejita Cocina. If only I could remember to bring my own cloth napkin, I’d never have any trash at all!
PLA lunch offering notwithstanding, there was quite a bit of plastic at the Blogher Conference, as GreenBean demonstrates here in her best Vanna White impression. Hmm… we have the glasses. Why fill them with bottled water when I’m pretty sure the hotel has running water available? When I asked a bellhop for the water fountain on that floor, he looked quizzical and said he didn’t think there was one. So I filled up with lukewarm water from the bathroom sink, since it had one of those automatic fixtures without hot and cold knobs.
As I mentioned in a previous pre-Blogher post, the conference organizers had the brilliant idea of setting up a recycling room for all the unwanted plastic and other swag attendees didn’t want to take home. At the end of the day on Saturday, the Zwaggle recycling room had collected over 900 pounds of the stuff! The Zwaggle crew said they hoped most of it would be picked up by the vendors to reuse. I hope these vendors will also use the information they gain from picking up all their crap and come up with some truly useful schwag (or swag… there are disagreements all over the Net about the correct term) next time. Who really needs a Michelin Man key chain?
Oh, and see that bottled water? It was included in our Blogher organic cotton tote bags. It’s actually Primo water in a bottle made from Ingeo, a corn-based compostable material. I left mine on the recycling table. Why? Because I don’t think we need to be drinking any kind of bottled water, compostable or not, when perfectly good tap water is available, and San Francisco has some of the best. See my post, Think Outside The Biota Bottle, for more on this topic.
So, what the heck is Zwaggle? It’s actually not a conference schwag recycler at all, although based on the success at Blogher, they may do more schwag recycling. I had a nice conversation with Zwaggle founder Adam Levy, who explained that Zwaggle is on online resource for parents to swap used children’s items (clothes, furniture, equipment, toys, etc.) to reduce the need to buy more stuff. Zwaggle is different from Freecycle in that it is nationwide and based on a point system. Members list the items they want to give away on the site and assign a “price” based on points rather than dollars. Other members “buy” items using their points, and only pay for applicable shipping.
How does one get point? Each member gets 50 points for joining and additional points for referring friends and giving away items. Adam plans to add a system for purchasing points with dollars at some point, as well as a gift registry. Imagine asking friends to give used gifts for birthdays and baby showers rather than new. Adam says he got the idea for Zwaggle because, while he himself is not a parent, nearly all of his friends are, and he’s seen the massive amounts of new stuff they’ve purchased when children are born. I think Zwaggle is a great idea that could put Babies R Us out of business if it catches on.
So, while there was certainly a major effort to green the conference (Michelin paying the cost of carbon offsetting for every attendee; GM providing hybrid vehicles for carpooling bloggers; Blogher providing organic cotton totes; the hotel providing lunch in compostable boxes and breakfast on durable tableware; Zwaggle providing schwag recycling) and probably a lot less waste than at most conferences, I wanted more. More!
I wanted more emphasis on environmental issues and environmental blogging during the sessions. But as Green LA Girl Siel said in a comment on her blog, “Beth and other enviros at BlogHer — Part of this is our fault for not volunteering to get more involved in the planning process. We must change that next year –” To which I responded, “Siel, you’re right! One more thing to add to my “To Do” list.”
What do you say green bloggers? Should we get more involved in Blogher greening or create our own green bloggers conference?