The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

August 8, 2008

CRRA: They know how to do a conference!

As I mentioned, I had the privilege of presenting the Take Back The Filter campaign as part of a panel on zero waste grassroots activism at the conference of the California Resource Recovery Association this past Wednesday. I’ll tell you more about the presentation itself in a second. But first, I need to gush a bit about how the waste was handled at this conference, vs. the Blogher conference I attended a few weeks ago, and how easily other organizations could adopt this model for their gatherings.

Granted, CRRA is all about zero waste. It’s the whole point of the organization, after all. But so what? Just because other organizations might not cite waste reduction as their purpose for being in existence doesn’t mean they can’t make it one of their values and strive for zero waste at their gatherings. So, that said, here are a few things I saw that made me smile:

The requisite recycle/compost/trash stations throughout the hotel:

Water stations in every meeting room with actual glasses and no bottled water in sight. There were (unfortunately) bowls of plastic-wrapped hard candies. I wonder how many people actually took them.

Amazingly, there were even compost bins in the bathrooms for paper towels!

At the front registration desk was a box for returning the plastic nametag holders to be reused, as well as a white board tallying how much recycling, composting, or trash the conference has generated over it’s 4 days and the total diversion rate, which by Wednesday was an impressive 94.9%.

And by the way, the lunch was served on durable tableware with cloth napkins. There was not a disposable anything in sight. I was told there were 800 registrants at this conference. (Blogher had 1,000.) So, it is possible to feed a large number of people sustainably without resorting to disposable boxes, whether those boxes are compostable or not.

Our presentation itself went really well! Here’s the description from the conference brochure:

Working Together Toward Zero — Grassroot Outreach Efforts/Coalitions With National Impact

In Carbonopoly, whatever card you select, collaboration is the key. To pass Go and to collect a functional future, coalitions, grassroots efforts and the new media — social networking websites like YouTube, Myspace, Facebook, as well as email and even cell phones — are some of the best ways to implement change in your community.

* Sierra Club National Zero Waste Committee, Ann Schneider,
* Clorox/Brita – Take Back The Filter, Beth Terry
* Zero Waste, the “New Media” and The Success Of The Story Of Stuff, Portia Sinnott, LITE Initiatives/Waste Reduction Project
* Zero Waste Los Angeles, Reina Pereira, City of Los Angeles
* Moderator: Stephanie Barger, Earth Resource Foundation

Each of us had about 15 minutes to present the work that we have been doing with a question/answer period at the end. I wish I could tell you more about it, but I was so nervous — about presenting and also about my kitty — that once it was over I promptly forgot the whole thing. Kinda like my wedding day. Fun and exciting and I wanted to throw up. Can’t wait to do it again! (Present the campaign, that is, not get married.)

Plastic tallies for last week and this week coming up Sunday night, barring anymore unforeseen disasters. My sister and her husband are coming from Maryland to visit, so I may not post a lot next week either. But I do have at least one guest poster coming up, so stay tuned. And if anyone else wants to fill in with a guest post, let me know. I’d be happy to take a little break.

Clif? Are you listening?

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14 years ago

I am impressed with the greenish waste organization throughout the conference. I too noticed the plastic bags tho and immediately thought plastic containers, not perfect but better than bags.

But the reason I’m writing was the numbers so proudly posted. They were not entirely legible, but I’m guessing 8.85, 45.64, and 25.1. Why is the compost so high? Was there a lot of wasted food? Or so many wet paper towels from the restroom?

Keep up the good fight, but stay this side of the nutjobs.

Going Crunchy
14 years ago

How cool!

And sniff, I want to live near CA so I can have fun picnics too.

14 years ago

I’m always listening!

Here is the bad news of the day. My sister has landscaped her entire yard with fake plants made of plastic. It’s remarkable…they really do look real and no maintenance for her.

14 years ago

Sounds like a great conference and I was thrilled to know the hotel was recycling. But did anyone notice they used “plastic” garbage bags for all the recycling bins? Why not use permanent containers with no plastic bag liners?

14 years ago

SOunds like a great conference. How about a guest post from michael/terible person? I like reading a michael/TP post!

ruchi aka arduous
14 years ago

Wow, how cool!! I’m so jealous that sounds like a fascinating conference! :)