I haven’t been posting much recently because I’m hard at work on the Plastic-free Book. But I had to take a break to fill you in on a pretty cool story about what happens when enough of us speak up. As many of you know, I attended the annual BlogHer conference in early August. I brought my usual travel supplies (reusable mug, reusable utensils, Lunchbot container, etc.) so I wouldn’t get stuck with any unexpected plastic waste. In previous years, the conference venue has provided real china and silverware, so assuming this year would be no different, I didn’t think to bring my stainless steel container with me to the actual conference center. I left in my hotel room. I gasped when I got to the lunch buffet line, starving after having missed breakfast, and encountered black plastic plates. And not just any kind of plastic, but polystyrene — a particularly toxic kind that is rarely recycled.
What should I do? I could go… Read the rest
BlogHer is about community, the power of women’s blogs and the promotion of women’s voices. It’s also about corporate sponsorship, commercialism, and the tradeoffs made to create a platform and conference experience for 2,400 women. I LOVED my BlogHer conference experience this year. It was a rockin’ good time. Nevertheless, I am troubled by some of the fundamental values of the organization, and I won’t be participating on the Green Team for future conferences.
But first, the good stuff…
1) Connecting with other women bloggers.
The BlogHer conference gives women bloggers a place to come together, to meet up in person, and to let our diverse voices be heard. According to Gloria Feldt in the Closing Night keynote, BlogHer is ranked as the #4 most powerful social media outlet. It promotes women’s voices in a time when men are still the loudest in the blogosphere. Here… Read the rest
Last year, I ranted about feeling overwhelmed at the BlogHer conference. In my post, Blogher ’09 and The Story of Stuff, I asked how BlogHer could move away from the commercialization of the conference and how we as bloggers could get back to our roots and avoid getting swept up in the barrage of swag and parties pushed by conference sponsors. I also revealed that I spent all of the first night drunk off my butt and that because I felt so overwhelmed and exhausted going in to the conference, I failed to make the most of the educational tracks offered.
BlogHer 2010 will be different from BlogHer 2009
I’m hoping this year will be different. But the difference will be inside of me… not the conference itself. From the program guide, it looks like there are even more sponsors this year — big companies like Procter and Gamble, Pepsico, Walmart, and McDonald’s. But BlogHer has made one important change, and that is that vendors … Read the rest
Chicago is one of the best cities to see without a car! And boy, did I see a lot. I won’t bore you with all my trip photos in this post. Here’s a link to my Chicago vacation photos on Flickr, for those who are interested. I’ll just give you a glimpse of the car-free fun I had. Click on any photo to see the larger version.
My feet are my favorite mode of transit. Sunday evening, after I checked into the hostel, they took me around the neighborhood and over to Buckingham Fountain to see some wonderous sights in the dark:
Monday morning, I met up with a Fake Plastic Fish reader: the one and only Clif Brown, he of the awesome, thought-provoking comments. Clif lives nearby and made an excellent tour guide for our hours-long walk…
and along Lake Michigan…
where we had zero-waste ice cream cones and chatted with a few ducks. How fortunate I am to be able to spend a simple day on foot enjoying… Read the rest
So, I’ve been blogging (whining) about the Blogher Conference in Chicago, but did you know I stayed a few more days to hang out and see the city? This was my vacation, and wow did I need one.
During the conference, I roomed with Micaela Preston (Mindful Momma) at the Chicago Sheraton, the same hotel where the conference was held. And while I can deal with a pillow-topped bed a few times in my life, I couldn’t afford to stay at the Sheraton for the remainder of my trip.
Instead, I moved to the Chicago Hostel, where I shared a dorm with several other women half my age!
Less luxury, for sure. But certainly more green, and in a way, more fun!
The Sheraton provides many individually-wrapped amenities. Take a look at what is provided in the bathroom. Also, a hair dryer (not shown.)
At the hostel, you get soap and a hair dryer. And the soap comes in a bulk container, so you only use as much as you need. Zero waste.
So what did I bring? Here’s a peek at the contents… Read the rest
Despite the impression I might have given in my previous post, “Blogher ’09 and The Story of Stuff,” the BlogHer conference was not only about swag and vendors and overconsumption. The experience had a huge impact on me, bigger than I can properly articulate at this point. But for right now, here are my photos and a few thoughts, in chronological order, beginning with Thursday night.
1) It doesn’t really matter if I order my martini with “no plastic spear” for the olives…
if I drink so much that I end up sick and needing a plastic bottle of this…
2) When we ask for “greener” sponsors, “organic” is not enough.
How organic is a product that is more plastic than food? And that is promoted with a ton of paper waste?
3) Green moms party by hanging out at cocktail parties testing their purses for lead. Thankfully, Jennifer’s XRF Analyzer did not find any lead in my organic hemp… Read the rest
What have you heard about #BlogHer09 so far? Stories are circulating around the web that the conference is no longer about connection and content and community and is instead all about sponsors and swag and greed. Check out this damning video by a Chicago writer who worked at the Pepsico booth for a few days. Read Jessica Gottlieb’s followup interview with him. Another blogger asks, “BlogHer ’09: Does Swag Pervert the Purpose?” and a disenchanted blogger I met at the Saturday night cocktail party posts a crazy photo of all the plastic swag she picked up.
Here are just a few of the big vendors represented at BlogHer09:
But lest you think I’m above all this, let me tell you a little story.
A (Fake Plastic) Fish Out of Water
For two weeks before BlogHer, I was staying up late and running around like mad trying to finish up projects and prepare for the trip. Finding out I had won the style consultation with Tim Gunn only accelerated… Read the rest
I have a lot to say about the Blogher Conference, plastic, traveling, Chicago, disillusionment, and frustration. But first things first!
I won a personal style consultation with Tim Gunn!
You got that right. It’s Tim Gunn from Project Runway: probably my favorite guilty pleasure TV show. I don’t normally enter contests, but this was one I couldn’t resist. Last week, I found out I had won (and spent a few days obsessing about what to wear before giving up in futility), and this afternoon, I joined him at the Four Seasons for lunch.
(Whatever your feelings about style, the fashion industry, advertisers — the contest I won was sponsored by Tide — or reality television, this post is not about those things. It’s about a one hour human connection, and that’s all.)
What I thought was going to be a makeover and style criticism consultation turned out to be a lovely meal and conversation … Read the rest
First of all, thank you all for your support. I’m grateful to everyone who left an encouraging comment on my Fark post. I’ll write more about it in my own comment on that post. Right now, I need to ask for your help again.
The annual Blogher Conference is coming up in July. Last year, it was held here in San Francisco. This year it will be in Chicago. But that’s not the only difference. After several of us bloggers made our green voices heard critiquing last year’s event, the organizers listened and have put together a Green Team for suggestions of how to make this year’s conference as eco-friendly as possible.
I’m happy to be a volunteer on the Blogher ’09 Green Team. We’ve already had one conference call and discussed all kinds of issues, from how to get attendees to the hotel from the airport using group transit to planning buffet-style menus requiring no disposable tableware.
One of the ways that conferences… Read the rest
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… Read the rest