Tuesday, December 11, 2012

2nd Year in a Row: Green Fern Events Helps Bazaarvoice Host Zero Waste Holiday Event for 700

We've done it again! I must admit, at first I was a bit skeptical that we could beat our very high diversion rate of 97% from last year's event at the Austin Music Hall. As I mentioned once before, anything over 90% is considered ZERO WASTE and last year we exceeded that percentage with flying colors. 

On Friday, November 30 at Brazos Hall (a new hip venue in downtown Austin) we broke all records diverting close to 99% of all the waste from the party from a landfill! This is the best we've ever done.

Pink Avacado Catering Brazos Hall staff were amazing! To give you a few examples...the servers were pouring out ice from cups, putting lemons in the compost bins and then recycling the plastic. The bar managers helped the bar staff get all of their recyclables to the proper bins in the back. The kitchen staff made sure every single bit of food waste was composted (even to the last little black bean). 

High Beam Events did a great job of coordinating the overall event as well as for taking the time to setup a pre-planning walkthrough with all the vendors to communicate our green initiative. 

About Green Fern Events: Green Fern Events (GFE) is a sustainable event management company. Based in Austin, TX – GFE helps clients across the nation improve the positive environmental impacts of their events while at the same time delivering high-quality, flawless, professionally-executed events at a cost effective price

Friday, November 16, 2012

Formula 1: Circuit of the America's Key Sustainability Initiatives

Austin is buzzing in preparation for its first Formula 1 US Grand Prix race taking place on Nov. 16-18, 2012. The new circuit in Austin is a 3.4 mile loop.  Drivers will make 56 counter-clockwise laps around the course.  Mario Andretti recently drove his championship-winning Lotus 79 through the track claiming “The track is phenomenal.  It has all the features that you are looking for, giving you the opportunity to overtake, while negotiating some tighter corners.  You can tell that a lot of thought has gone into it.”

Before plans were finalized to bring F1 to Austin, an environmental commitment agreement was drafted between the City of Austin and the Circuit of the Americas (COTA).  COTA as agreed to comply with the sustainability initiatives set forth in the agreement and will report on these measures annually. But that is not all. COTA has committed to long-term sustainability goals. Edgar Ferrara, COTA Director of Sustainability, recently stated,  "we're going to raise the bar and we're going to set an example, ' And that's the approach we all have taken".

COTA has committed to setting a standard for sustainability in North American motorsports. They have joined the Green Sports Alliance and are working closely with many leaders in the industry. "We are excited to be collaborating with the best minds in sustainable facility management", said Ferrara.

See some of COTA's Sustainability Initiatives highlighted below:
  • They have removed invasive plant species as well as introduced more tall grasses in efforts to restore dry creek and blackland prairie areas.  
  • They have planted over 1,000 new (mostly native) trees.
  • Low flow toilets are being used to conserve water at the facilities.
  • Recycling and composting programs are in effect. Also food and beverage vendors will be using recyclable or compostable/biodegradable cups and dishes.
  • Carbon Reduction project in effect with non-profit group TreeFolks
  • Transportation: Mass Transit Options and Access for Cyclists
  • Eco-Opt Ticketing Program. Ticket buyers have the options to add a charge to their purchase to support one of three local eco projects.
For more information on the Austin Grand Prix, visit: http://circuitoftheamericas.com/

Related Articles:


Circuit of The Americas Joins Green Sports Alliance

Formula Farrera: Formula One Cranks Up Sustainability Engine

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Happy Green Halloween!

written by Tiffany Harelik 

Halloween is a fun time of the year to ring in fall flavors and have parties.  Whether young or young at heart, there are several things you can do this year to make your Halloween celebrations climate neutral and earth-friendly.


  • Reuse: Organize a costume swap pre-Halloween party
  • Recycle: Get crafty and turn existing clothing into a costume - search "DIY costumes"for ideas

  • Wrap LED Christmas lights around a pumpkin and line the walkway to your front door
  • Remove seeds from a pumpkin (put aside to toast with olive oil and salt).  Wipe interior shell of the pumpkin out with vinegar.  Place a blooming potted plant inside and tie a ribbon around the belly of the pumpkin.
  • Use glassware to entertain at parties.  Or if you are using themed plastic, consider washing and saving for next year's Halloween.
  • Have a recycle bin present at your celebrations.
  • Compost food wastes into your fall garden.

Garden Craft:
  • Remove the top of a healthy pumpkin, leaving seeds inside.  Fill with good dirt, and a little water.  This creates a self-containing pumpkin patch.
Give treats that don't have excessive packaging:
  • Fruit comes in it's own biodegradable casing and doesn't require extra plastic bags.  Ex: oranges, apples, bananas.
  • Consider giving out non-food treat ideas that aren't wasteful (ex: crayons)

More fun sources we found to help you have a Green Halloween: 

Take this quiz to see how Green your Halloween truly is via Planet Green.

Here is a great big list of healthy and earth-friendly treat alternatives for a "Green Halloween." Follow them on twitter at @greenhalloween

Thanks to @GetGreenBeWell, the 28-day Green-Your-Halloween Challenge has started.  Check out some of their ideas for a greener Halloween.

TreeHugger is one of our favorite go-to sites for useful environmental information.  Here is their take on how to have a Green Halloween.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Natural Swimming Pools

With summer started, many eco-conscious families are interested in ways to transform their current pools into a more natural environment for swimming. Natural swimming pools utilize native plants in an aquatic garden to circulate the water and keep everything fresh, clean and clear.  These are a little different than the increasingly popular saltwater pools.  The modern trend in natural pools is to replace chemicals and filters with elements from Mother Nature. 

Perhaps our ancestors would be laughing that we are seeking out natural swimming pools for our homes since there are so many natural wonders available.  If you want to spend more time in the water instead of cleaning it this summer, here are some reasons you might want to consider building a natural pool.

Benefits of a natural pool:
1. Low maintenance: let Mother Nature do the work
2. Costs less: no electricity, plumbing, chemicals
3. Green: healthy for all the plants and organisms in the pond
4. Nature sounds: improve your feng shui

1.  Keep your planting zone equal in area to swimming zone
2. Use a variety of water garden plants to keep the space aerated, warm, safe for an animal habitat and beautiful
3. Even though plants are great natural filters, many natural pools will still require an underwater aeration system to keep the water from becoming stagnant

You can also swim at these natural beauties this summer in Central Texas:
1. Barton Springs
2. Deep Eddy
3. Hamilton Pools
4. Krause Springs
5. Blue Hole

1. Havasu Falls (Arizona)
2. Peekamoose Blue Hole (New York)
3. Little River Canyon (Alabama)
4. Carlon Falls (California)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

International Compost Awareness Week: May 6-12

Let this picture help you see the benefits of composting: the field on the left has utilized compost, the field on the right has not.  

Many farmers are weighing the financial benefits of switching from manmade fertilizers to natural compost.  In an article on composting rules in the Southwest, one farmer reports saving nearly $100,000 on his fertilizer bill because of having switched to compost.  

This May 6-12 is National Composting Awareness Week.  Although there are several varieties, "compost" is a general reference for decomposed organic material.  We have put together some compelling reasons to compost, a quick guide to getting started, and a fun activity for the next generation of conservationists. 

  • replenishes nutrients from food waste back into food-growing Earth
  • improves soil pH
  • provides beneficial microorganisms to the soil which helps suppress plant diseases
  • improves soil structure to make a better environment for roots and prevents erosion
  • manages moisture by reducing need for irrigation
  • creates more drought resistance 
  • mitigates climate change
  • reduces water pollution through pollution prevention, bioremediation, and stormwater management 

Howtocompost.org gives some great tips for the new composter.  Here are a few they recommend:
  • "Gather all grass clippings and green yard waste but be sure to mix with the "brown" materials like leaves and shredded paper to add carbon. You will need both, but if you only add grass clippings your pile will compact and start to stink.
  • Do not compost meats or pet droppings. Stick with food scraps and yard waste only.
  • Avoid all pesticides and/or herbicide treated material.
  • Turn your pile as often as you can. Each time you turn it will speed up the process.
  • Keep your compost damp but not wet. As you add material to your pile make sure that each layer is moist as it is added. During the summer your pile will dry out and the composting process will slow down.
  • Add compost to your garden a few weeks before you plant. Let the compost have a chance to work into the soil. Try to mix it in and let it sit before you plant.
  • Bugs, worms and most bugs are ok. No need to go crazy trying to keep bugs out of your compost.
  • Since the compost process works best at temperature between 120 and 150 degrees composting in the warmer months is easier to do, if this is your first attempt at composting best to try in the summer."
For the serious composter, check out this article on composting toilets

Cut a recycled 2 liter bottle in half and fill the bottom portion 1/4 way up with water (enough to emerse the upturned other half).  Turn the top half of the bottle upside down and place two wicking strips in the bottom, then fill it with damp, soil-less potting mix and a handful of organic fertilizer.  You can plant seeds or start with a seedling and water from the top.  The wicking fabric will pull water up to the plant, conserving water. 

The United States Composting Council offers a multitude of resources for people wanting to know more about composting.  They provide a compost locator map to illustrate where to find quality composting as well as educational webinars, training and certification.  They are a national non-profit organization dedicated to the composting industry.  Green Fern Events is proud to be involved with the USCC's 21st annual conference and trade show in January of 2013 as the conference manager.  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hottest Green Trends: Earth Day 2012

1. Slow Food Movement - The Slow Food movement has over 100,000 members globally.  In founder Carlo Petrini's words, "Slow food unites the pleasure of food with responsiblity, sustainability, and harmony with nature."  There are multiple local chapters available, and their website is a great source of information for those wanting to know what they can do to be a part of this effort.  

2. Smarter Cities - As our cities are growing, green roofs are becoming an increasingly popular trend.http://www.greenroofs.org/.  Also, check out IBM's Smarter Cities" initiative. 

3. Organic Cotton - Did you know that the pesticides used on cotton are some of the most harmful chemicals on the planet? Find out why you should care about organic cotton: Organic Trade Association 

4. Renewable Energy - Earth Day Network reports that the Renewable Energy for All Campaign is asking world leaders to "agree on a long-term vision that inspires decision makers, triggers incentives, and bases the green economy on a 100% clean and renewable energy system." 
5. Clean Technology: Fuel Cells & Hydrogen - 10 trends to watch for 2012 in the fuel cell and hydrogen industry. 

6. Green Films - Check out this list of best documentaries on the environment (http://www.kalev.com).

7. Top 5 Green Cars: The Detroit auto-show named the 2013 Ford Fusion as the top Green car on the market.  Here are the other four.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

GFE sponsors recycling for Austin Chamber open house event

Tonight, Green Fern Events is pleased to provide recycling services for the first major event at the new offices for the Austin Chamber of Commerce.  The Chamber's open house will be held at their new home, located at the Hilton downtown at 535 East 5th St. 78701 from 4:30p-7:30p.  Signature food and drink will be provided by local chamber members including Chez Zee, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Carmelo's, Truluck's, Another Broken Egg, Hilton Downtown and Twin Liquors.

Green Fern Events will gather plastic cups and aluminum cans and take them to a local recycling facility.  To give you an idea of the environmental impact even a small community event might have, consider this:  400 people are expected to attend tonight's open house.  We have found the best way to measure plastic cups is by volume (not weight) in cubic yards.  If everyone uses at least one plastic glass, about 400 cups will be used.  By recycling 400 plastic cups, approximately .25 cubic yards of landfill space will be spared and the plastic will be reused!

Recycling and event waste measurement is just one of Green Fern's services:

GFE Consulting Services Green Fern Events provides consulting services for businesses, organizations and individuals. GFE provides custom proposals based on an hourly rate. Examples include:

1- Development of Sustainable Event Management (SEM) systems for corporations, businesses, & venues
2- Sustainability Event Reporting & Environmental Assessments
3- Education/Training in international sustainable event standards: BS 8901 (ISO 20121), APEX/ASTM Green Meeting Standards, and GRI for Event Organizers
4- Eco-friendly product purchasing at discounted rates
5- Waste management solutions for events 

GFE Recycling Services 

As an extension of our event planning services we also handle waste management services for events of 1000 people or fewer. For less than the cost of a Starbucks latte per person we will manage all the recycling and food compost of your event. We will provide the staff, containers (with proper signage) and haul away services. Post event we will provide you with metrics showing how much waste was diverted from a landfill. This is great PR for any business.

If you hire Green Fern Events to manage and produce your entire event we include this service 
FREE of charge (Maximum of 250 people). We care that much!
Recycling Bin Rentals

We now offer ClearStream bins with billboard signs for rental.Recycling haul away services are also available for an additional cost