Monday, December 19, 2011

Green Fern Events Helps Produce ZERO WASTE Event for 700 Person Bazaarvoice Holiday Party

On Thursday December 15, 2011 Green Fern Events, Austin's premier sustainable event management company, alongside Wandering River Recycling successfully offset 97% of all the waste for Bazaarvoice’s holiday event held at the Austin Music Hall in downtown Austin, Texas. There were over 700 guests in attendance. Bob McGivney, Owner of Wandering River Recycling said, “In my experience I have never seen an offset percentage as high as this.” He added, “This end result is a testament of how well an offset program can work when proper planning is in place for any event at any size.”  Zero Waste is defined as diverting 90% of trash from landfills by recycling and composting. Not only was this goal met, it was exceeded by 7%.

So how was this achieved?

First, it starts with a company like Bazaarvoice who is dedicated to improving sustainability, minimizing negative environmental impact and demonstrating community goodwill. For the second year in a row, Bazaarvoice hired Green Fern Events to provide recycling and composting services to help “green” their holiday event. Not only is Bazaarvoice a global leader in social commerce solutions and marketing for some of the world’s largest brands, they are setting a powerful example of environmental leadership and corporate social responsibility. With special help from the Bazaarvoice G.I. Joes (a.k.a. the green team), Bazaarvoice implements many green strategies into their business culture, community, as well as for the events they produce.

Second, “It takes a Village.” Green Fern Events, Direct Events staff (management group for Austin Music Hall), Pascal’s Catering, and Red Velvet Events all collaborated in efforts to help minimize waste and environmental impact. 

Third, it requires communication. Emily Kahn, President and Founder of Green Fern Events, effectively communicated the waste management plan to everyone involved. The key to the program’s success was having an informed staff. For example, Green Fern Events asked Pascal’s Catering to provide compostable plates, cutlery, and napkins for the food service. When real china is not available, this is the second-best option. This helped reduce the waste significantly as everything related to food service was compostable and/or biodegradable. Also, all drink containers used for the event were recyclable.

Lastly, limit non-sustainable options. Given the abundance of composting and recycling bins we limited “trash” receptacles; this helped eliminate the option for guests and/or staff to place items in the wrong containers. Pascal’s Catering staff pro-actively bussed the tables and placed all waste in the proper bins. This not only elevated the level of service, it kept all recyclables and compostables from ending up in trash bins.

At the conclusion of Bazaarvoice’s 2011 Holiday event, only 1 bag of trash (weighing 25 pounds) remained. 63% of all the waste was recycled and 34% was composted. The end-result: 97% (600 lbs) of all waste was diverted from a landfill.

About GFE
Green Fern Events is Austin’s premier sustainable event management company. GFE helps clients reduce the negative environmental impact of their events, while at the same time producing flawless, professionally executed events at a cost effective price. More information can be found at

Saturday, December 3, 2011

“Bob & Irene’s Offbeat yet Sustainable Wedding”

Bob & Irene were married Saturday, October 15, 2011 at the beautiful Springdale Farm (Sustainable Urban Farming) in East Austin. Festivities began when the wedding party and approximately half of the guests arrived in a bicycle brigade with the Austin Bike Zoo. Talk about carbon emission reductions! It was a wonderful beginning to one of the most unique and creative weddings I’ve ever experienced.

Preceding the ceremony, guests gathered around the ceremony site for cocktails served in mason jars and a variety of “snacky snacks” as the bride called it. This included local artisan cheeses and crackers, house roasted almonds, and one of the groom’s favorite staples, pretzels. Live music provided by The Inheritance (a local Eastern European folk/experimental dance band) set the perfect mood for the evening.

After the ceremony, guests meandered over to the reception area for an evening filled with “Festivities, Food & Fun.” Whiskey Shivers, an incredibly talented roots music band kept the crowd on their toes with foot-stomping hootenannies and hoe downs throughout the night. Food catered by East Side King (delicious Asian-fusion street food) and Franklin Barbeque (voted best BBQ in America by Bon Appetit) was devoured by everyone.

So besides being incredibly unique, what made this wedding sustainable? Here is a quick rundown of the creative “green” strategy that went into the planning:

Location- Central location near downtown Austin

Venue – Wedding was held at a sustainable urban farm. Rental costs for the venue even went back into the farm to support growth of produce for community.

Transportation – Bicycles and carpooling, local transportation.

Invitations - Were printed on the back of Whole Foods paper shopping bags.

D├ęcor – Centerpieces included reused glass yogurt jars from bride & grooms home, hand-dyed egg shells from their own chickens. No living plants were used. Confetti for the wedding ceremony was also made from crushed egg shells hand-dyed by bride.

Food & Beverage – Real plateware, silverware and linen napkins used. Local foods provided by East Side King and Franklin Barbeque. Salad was made from greens provided by the farm. Homemade margaritas were crafted using simple syrup made from organic raw sugar, hand-squeezed limes and served in mason jars that the bride & groom now have at home for everyday use.

Lighting – LED string lights, compact florescent bulbs, soy candles.

Waste Management – 89% of all waste was recycled or composted. Only 1 bag of trash for over 100 guests.

So now the question many ask..….did it cost more green to go green? It certainly did NOT. This is one of the greatest fallacies we hear in the events industry. Many think it is more expensive to produce sustainable events. This is simply not true. With smart planning, management and implementation, there are many strategies that can be implemented to minimize negative impact without hurting your wallet. This is Green Fern Events area of expertise. As a result, we helped the bride & groom produce a beautiful and unique wedding that was not only cost-effective but sustainable.

To view more picture from the wedding visit HERE
Photography by Zach Hunt

Monday, October 31, 2011

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Eco-Friendly Trick-or-Treating

This FEED trick-or-treat bag is a great way for your kids to collect treats while helping to provide life-saving nutrition for children around the world. Designed by Lauren Bush, this program was launched in 2010 in partnership with UNICEF (United Nation's Childrens Fund). FEED's Projects' mission is to create good products that help feed the world. They do this through sale of FEED bags, bears, t-shirts and other accessories. The products are made using environmentally-friendly and artisan-made materials, along with fair-labor production.
CLICK HERE to learn more.

1) Individually wrapped organic lollypops by YUMMY EARTH.
2) Organic candy bars by ANGELL
3) Organic & Natural Gummy Candy and Jelly Beans: SURF SWEETS

Tonight, across the U.S., over 100,000 households will receive candy back. This is in an effort to raise awareness of child labor, forced labor, trafficking, poverty, and environmental degradation that is widespread on cocoa farms. Click on LINK here or above to read more on Equal Exchange's FACEBOOK.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Green Tips for the 4th of July Weekend!

As you begin to plan your parties here are a few ways to stay green during the 4th of July:
  • The obvious choice is to use real plates, utensils, and glass ware. If you cant, the second best option is using biodegradable, compostable, or bamboo products.
  • Make recycling easy and available!
  • Serve finger foods such as sliced fruit, veggies & dip, cheese & crackers, and mini sliders.
  • Drink local.
  • Compost kitchen scraps (remember no meat, only organic material).
  • When BBQ-ing try burning a propane or electric grill.
Here are a few web sites where you can buy earth-friendly products
  • Located in Austin:
  • NatureWorks

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New Tasty Desserts for your Wedding or Special Event!

Tiny Pies is a unique new Austin-based bakery that creates delicious bite size pies for businesses, weddings and special events. Tiny Pies uses the freshest seasonal ingredients, such as summer peaches, that will leave your mouth watering for more. They have a variety of pies such as Strawberry Rhubarb, Blueberry Bliss, Sweet Texas Pecan, and Dutchy's Apple. Tiny Pies is a great snack to enjoy out at Barton Springs or Zilker Park.

Tiny Pies treats can be found at the Barton Creek farmers market, on-line, and at your favorite neighborhood grocery store or retail shop. Tiny Pies tries to be as conscious as possible about the environmental impacts of their business. They take the following steps to minimize their foot print:
  • Only print on recycled paper
  • The plastic packaging for their pies is from partially recycled material
  • They communicate with their customers via email marketing (they do not send any hard copy mail pieces)
  • They are currently moving kitchens and will begin a composting bin at the new kitchen
  • They recycle all materials that they can in their kitchen

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Coming Soon! 2011 APEX Green Meeting Standards

APEX/ASTM environmentally sustainable meeting standards have reached a new milestone! Currently, eight of the nine sustainable meeting standards have been completed and are pending final approval for publication. When launched, the comprehensive standards will give planners and companies real metrics for applying best green strategies to the nine sectors within the event planning process. Green Fern Events is excited to implement these new standards as well as to educate and consult with interested parties.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Energy Conference 2011

Green Fern Events, alongside a team of colleagues at Technology Transition Corporation and McNabb Marketing Resources successfully implemented the FC&HE 2011 Conference in National Harbor, MD in February. With over 800 attendees and representatives from 19 countries in attendance, this was the first official event of the newly formed Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Energy Association (FCHEA). In October 2010, the National Hydrogen Association (NHA) and the US Fuel Cell Council (USFCC) joined forces to accelerate the commercialization of fuel cell and hydrogen energy technologies.

The Conference entitled "Hydrogen and Fuel Cells: Pathway to Our Clean Energy Economy" featured high profile speakers such as policy makers, corporate leaders, and independent energy strategists. In addition to the powerful keynote and parallel sessions, the Expo portion of the event provided great networking opportunities as well as insight into the breadth of commercial-ready systems. With over 73 exhibitors and 112 booths, the Expo was the second largest ever. Overall, the event went very well. We would also like thank all the vendors and service providers for all of their support.

But would this event have been a success if it was not also sustainable? Maybe yes according to budget, but in this day and age success and sustainability go hand-in-hand. Below is a list of some of the measures we took to minimize negative environmental impact for FC&HE 2011 while at the same time keeping costs down.

Greening FC&HE 2011
  • Venue Selection: We chose a conference center hotel so people would be able to walk to meeting space and exhibit hall and not have to drive. All of the meeting space was in the same space as the sleeping rooms.
  • Destination & Transportation: We chose a central east-coast destination (Washington, DC) to minimize travel distance for attendees as well as for attendees to be able to use mass transportation while in town, i.e., metro, bus, rail, or to be able to walk or bike ride.
  • Food & Beverage: Eliminated bottled water completely. We had water stations set-up throughout the venue and encouraged attendees to bring/use their own water bottle. We used compostable/biodegradable cups for water and coffee breaks. We used real china for every food function and also reduced food waste by not over ordering.
  • Recycling: Recycling bins were requested and used in all food function areas, exhibit hall and in meeting rooms.
  • Audio Visual: We used LED stage lighting for general session and made sure all projectors were off when not in use.
  • Exhibition Services: Used reusable signage where we could, had carpet repurposed/recycled, made sure all cardboard from shipments was recycled
  • Printing: Conference bags were made from recycled plastic bottles (reusable grocery totes) and printed with soy-based ink. We combined the Abstract Booklet with Final Program (2 publications into one) to minimize print/production costs. Final program was printed on recycled paper and printed locally.
While these are just a few of the many sustainable practices we applied to the event management process, there is always room for more. The strategies we implemented worked for this group, as it was also important to stay within or under budget.

About Green Fern Events (GFE). Green Fern Events is an event management company which specializes in the production of sustainable meetings, conferences and special events. Based in Austin, TX - GFE helps clients reduce the social, economic, and environmental impact of their events, while at the same time delivering flawless, professionally executed events at a cost effective price.