Opportunities to Green BlogHer 09

BlogHer '08 set an amazing precedent in San Francisco last week with the many steps it took to stage a green -- as in eco-friendly -- conference. So the last thing the conference organizers probably want to hear right now is how to make future conferences even greener. But as I "speed dated" my way through this remarkable gathering, I heard several comments over and over again that I'd like to share with the larger BlogHer community in the hopes that, yes, next year's conference will top this one in its embrace of eco-friendly accomplishments.

Swag: As much as anyone likes freebies, there seemed to be too much useless stuff in our conference bags. BlogHer 08 gets lots of kudos for setting up an on-site recycling center so we could dump everything we couldn't use. But many of those I talked with felt like they'd rather not have to deal with so much stuff to begin with. Next year, how about fewer things like those Michelin Man key chains and well, fewer things generally? Maybe rather than give the swag out, there could be a room where attendees could go to choose the swag they wanted. Alternatively, maybe we could contribute to "social swag" for good causes: books for a literacy program, trees to plant to stop climate change, carpeting and paint for one of those cool houses Brad Pitt is helping to construct in the hurricane ravaged areas of New Orleans. BlogHer could become a phenomenal funnel for contributions to worthy causes by empowering attendees at its conferences.

Program: Even though BlogHer 08 went out of its way to green the conference, the program itself was sorely lacking in substantive green content. BlogHer 09 could rectify the situation by offering at least one workshop or seminar on the challenges of blogging about technical issues like "product certifications" and "sustainability,"

Makeovers: The makeover offerings were genius. It felt great to get fussed over by the Bare Minerals specialists, and I loved sneaking away for my ten minute massage. But probably the "makeover" that was most valuable to me was the impromptu one I got up in the Typepad suite. Those folks were good enough to look at my blog with me and give me some pointers that will help make my blog more appealing. Others at the conference wished Google, Yahoo, and Wordpress, among others, had been available to do similar reviews of their blogs. This isn't particularly "green" unless you think of the energy it saves in not having to track down those folks on the Internet or through some blackhole "help" function on their sites. More technical makeover opportunities at BlogHer 09 would be very welcome.

Food: For the most part, the food was delicious. Was it organic, by chance? That would have been a nice touch. I heard several people grousing about the plastic boxes and utensils at lunch. Evidently, all that was going to be composted (was it?). It would have helped to have a sign to let folks know.

Water: It was great to have access to coffee and tea in real cups. But we didn't need a plastic bottle of Primo water in our bags. Enough said.

Materials: No suggestions here. It worked just fine to send out the conference program on the Internet and provide just the basic agenda in hard copy at registration. I'm encouraging any conference I'm associated with to do exactly the same thing.

I'd love to hear what others have to say. I'm involved in several conferences, so what I learned at BlogHer 08 I'm spreading around. Congratulations again to the conference organizers for a bold green step in the right direction.

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