The Sustainable Brands 2008 show was, like the industry it represents, sometimes a contradiction. Here, in no particular order, are my Top-10 observations on both ends of the green scale:
1. Coffee with all the right adjectives. It was nice to see a departure from the ubiquitous generic hotel swill. This selection by Thanksgiving Coffee had a nice rich flavour, and didn’t leave me with crack-jitters by the afternoon.
2. Innovative disposable dinnerware by Verterra. Pressed leaf plates and starch-based cutlery made an impression. Not to mention they styling look that will go well with your wood-paneled rumpus room.
3. The Usual Generic Hotel Buns. This could have been the most organic, free-range, vegan-victorious pastry in town. But even if it was, you’d never know it. It tasted like pure, high-fructose corn syrup sweetened lard lovin’ to me. Not that I’d know.
4. Individually-Wrapped Multinational Salt Chips. I guess there may have been some arteries going into withdrawal from their usual sodium fix. Maybe one day they’ll figure out how to make an edible starch bag. Then we could just eat them like meds. But seriously, guys. There must be a cracked-sea-salt-organic-spud-farmer version of chips to be had.
5. Free-Range Bike Racks. I didn’t see a real one while I was here. Fortunately, the Hyatt staff seemed content to let me lock up wherever. I live for the day I can pull up to the valet, toss him my helmet and stroll into the lobby, reeking of international intrigue.
7. My New Wind-Powered Phone. A company called CHOICEgadget had these peel-and-stick business cards that purported to provide a year of free carbon offsets for the manufacturing and use of a typical cel-phone. Funny, my battery doesn’t seem to last any longer…
8. Great Green SWAG from ECOimprints. Hemp, organic cotton, biodegradable pens, and a trade-show booth that ECO imprints Partner John Borg made himself from reclaimed materials. Share the love.
9. Lighting lightly on the earth. Pulse Staging and Events provided LED lighting systems for SB08 that looked great (subtle colour-changing towers provided soothing entertainment for the patient psychadelic tripper) and use 20% of the energy of traditional lighting systems. They also run cool, which can save even more on A/C energy. President Michael Karp says they also make sure their electronic equipment is as carefully sourced, and complies with ROHS guidelines wherever possible.
10. Having a conference at all. Wouldn’t it be better just to get together over webcams? Or hold local conferences wired together with big real-time videoconferencing video walls? Or plug ourselves in like The Matrix and meet in a freaky virtual world filled with chaos and mayhem? Perhaps. But there is something innately inspiring about sharing a room with over 500 other intelligent, committed, focused professionals who share a goal to make the world greener. I know I will return to my zone much more energized and prepared to take on the forces of inertia. Until next conference, Dear Readers, stay tuned for a day of Sustainable biking in Monterey, and a return Amtrak Trek which will likely sport some sort of adventure.
One in a series of articles on Lorne’s Sustainable Journey to the Sustainable Brands 08 Conference in Monterey CA. Click here for the full list of sessions, or here for the ‘Fear & Loathing’ road trip journals.
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