Archive for the ‘Green Events’ Category

From the floor II: PPAI 2013

February 5, 2013

The safety/responsibility issue is the serious face of the PPAI Expo; the super-cool fun face is the new product ideas featured there. We profile a few of them here.


Shiny red boots!

1.      Rubber boots. These were among our favorite products — so cool, so well-made, and  manufactured from a usable, durable product.

Beautiful things come from all around here.

2.      Custom world globes. We loved this use of a globe and stand. So many of our clients have supply-chain stories to tell their customers about where their food is grown, where their ingredients are sourced, and where their products are made. Here is a great use of a globe as an educational tool – the Body Shop used this to identify the origin of their ingredients.

It’s felt! It’s cork! It’s lovely!

3.      Recycled felt and cork products. We oohed and ahhhed at this new line of recycled PET and cork accessories. The colours are fabulous and the styling contemporary. These were in keeping with the “sustainable style” trend we noted in a previous blog [link to blog post]…


Liivng tools.

 4.      Grow-your-own toolkits. A fantastic use of herb and veggie seeds in these bookmarks – to encourage folks to grow their own food.

Mmmmm. Snacks . . . .

5.      Soft-touch vintage tees. A new t-shirt vendor from San Francisco that makes its product right in the USA produced cool looks, organic options and great designs.
It was a great show. We’re already looking forward to PPAI 2014!

FAIRWARE CRUSH: EVERGREEN A Mission Towards Urban Sustainability

October 2, 2012

Evergreen > Bringing Nature to our Cities Since 1991.

This month, we want to give a big shout-out to a charity that hits close to home—our cities. Evergreen Canada is a national charity that has been at the forefront of making our cities more liveable for almost 20 years!

Evergreen’s mission is simple: to inspire and engage Canadians to take action towards urban sustainability. Let’s face it: as our cities grow, developers are buying up land to meet residential and commercial needs. We are losing integral green space, and it’s taking a toll on the environment, the air we breathe and our well-being. Evergreen is making moves to change that.

From planting trees to expanding park space, over the years Evergreen has gathered a diverse group of Canadians to take part in projects aimed at bringing nature back into our cities. But that’s not all—the charity is also committed to promoting green building practices, so our cities can grow sustainably. Evergreen convenes city builders, researchers and environmental innovators to encourage a environmentally responsible and resource efficient structure during a building’s life-cycle.

Since their launch in 1991, Evergreen has helped fund over 3,000 School Ground Greening Projects and more than 2,000 Community Greening Projects in parks and recreation spaces. One of their most innovative projects is Evergreen Brick Works. Named one of the top 10 geotourism destinations in the world by National Geographic, Evergreen Brick Works is a community environmental centre in the heart of Toronto’s Don Valley offering interactive workshops and community festivals aimed at inspiring visitors to live, work and play sustainably.

For the past two years, Evergreen has been a part of a great event that we love—the Molson Red Leaf Project. Evergreen teamed up with brewing giant Molson Canadian to throw the event, which this summer inspired nearly 2,600 Canadians to roll up their sleeves and clean up our parks.

Following its launch in 2011, the program has expanded from 10 to 100 events across Canada. Volunteers from communities across the country came out to give back to land—and their efforts made an amazing impact! 3,241 trees were planted and 277 bags of litter were collected. Volunteers not only got to make a difference in their cities, but they were also rewarded with passes to music festivals like the Craven County Jamboree in Saskatchewan and LIVE at Squamish in BC—which is fittingly held at the beautiful Logger Sports Grounds and Hendrickson fields, surrounded by forests and mountains.

We’re especially stoked about this event, because this year we got to get our hands a little dirty for this campaign too—or rather, kept our hands clean! We provided all the gloves used by volunteers for this event. Product with purpose is a concept we are totally committed to at Fairware, and it was great to see our gloves put to work by so many awesome volunteers.

It’s not only a passionate commitment to urban sustainability that makes Evergreen so crushable in our eyes—it’s how the charity has brought together so many great Canadians to take back our cities and take action towards a green future.

To learn more about Evergreen and it’s remarkable achievements or to take part in their programs, check out their website.

Field Notes: What I learned on my way to buy a sustainable conference bag….

January 19, 2012

The following article has been re-posted with permission from the author, Shawna McKinley from Meet Green and originally appeared on the Sustainable Destinations Blog.

Field Notes: What I learned on my way to buy a sustainable conference bag….

Yes, I know, I know. There are steps to take before getting to this point; the point of admitting you need a conference bag. You don’t necessarily want it, but, well, eliminating it entirely is not an option. And although it might be cool to experiment with an innovative BYOB program, for some events and attendees bag reuse programs are just not feasible. So, it falls to the planner to source the most sustainable option possible!

Myself and the event team for Canada Media Marketplace recently found ourselves in this situation. Here are some things we’ve learned on our way to buy a new (more sustainable) bag:

A recycled bag claim by any other name would be just as…unreliable. Greenwashing is alive and well in the recycled conference bag market, so it’s tough to be certain if your bag, in fact, used to be a pop bottle. Always look deep into manufacturer claims: ask what kind of recycled material the bag was made from (such as PET or polypropylene plastic), what percent of recycled content your bag includes and if it is pre- or post-consumer material. Alert the media if the distributor has a quick response as I found most do not have the information available at their fingertips. If they do, hey…score one for them for researching their supply chain! If they don’t hopefully they can easily find out for you.

Recyclable? Really? Some conference bags claim to be recyclable. But unlike soda or water bottles, they rarely have that number in a triangle sewn into the bottom to let you know if the bag can be recycled in your city. Many recycled bags are made of #5 plastic, which may or may not be recyclable in some locations. This means that in reality bags are recyclable only where facilities exist that can take them. Even if facilities exist, wear and tear on the recycled plastic fibres in the bag may limit your ability to keep it out of landfill years later if the material is poor quality. So before buying a recycled content bag ask what kind of plastic it is made from so you can tell attendees how to recycle it at the end of its life (if it even can be recycled). Better yet, see if it has a label that reminds them. Manufacturers may also have a takeback program that allows you to return bags at the end of their life cycle for recycling. Try to avoid mixed material bags that have clasps, strings and metal grommets that might prevent recycling, or at least make sure these can be easily removed.

Lead? Not in my recycled bag, sistah. Concern has emerged recently over the presence of lead in reusable bags. Who knew! Ask your conference bag manufacturer what kind of safeguards they have in place to make sure the bags you’re sourcing are safe and healthy for attendees. Specific questions to ask your supplier could include if they are aware of any standards that regulate the presence of lead or other toxic materials in their products. ASTM does have standards for lead content in manufactured products such as toys. Some states also have regulations governing the use of hazardous substances that may be cited. It is also important to ask if bag companies can provide documentation to confirm their products are tested to comply with these standards as awareness of standards does not automatically assume they are followed!

For all the bags in China! Many of the recycled content bags marketed to event planners in North America are manufactured in China. That may concern those who seek to support businesses close to their home. However consider this: some distributors take the initiative to work with manufacturers globally to ensure sound labour practises are used. To ensure you’re working with a reputable company anywhere in the world ask if they inspect plants or work with ethical sourcing organisations to use factories that align with your desire to ensure fair and safe working conditions for the people who make your conference bag. Fairware has a good list of specific ethical sourcing organisations to look for to help with your purchase decision, worldwide.

Toot for jute. While some bags might use conventional or organic cotton, linen, flax or hemp, jute is arguably a more sustainable option for fabric bags. Why? According to Nexus Collections jute is a natural fibre that biodegrades, uses less water to grow and fewer chemical processes to manufacture into a textile. It also produces a usable wood by-product that can be used for other purposes. And when you consider 6.9 million pounds of chemicals are dusted on conventional cotton crops in California every year, that is something to toot about. Organic fibres can be a good option to address pesticide use, but can hide the use of excessive water and chemicals in other areas of processing.

One bag to rule them all! It’s a bit of a grey area and obviously a complex issue to consider, but TreeHugger has ventured an educated guess into which reusable bags are the best They reckon that it’s a toss up between polypropylene and polyester, both of which can be sourced with recycled content from some manufacturers. But obviously the difference narrows the more you reuse any non-disposable bag. So you know what that means:.+1 to reuse, +1 to planet karma!

Oh and on a side, note…

“You have enough sense to wash your underwear, right?” Okay all you hypochondriacs! You know those conference bags you may have avoided using for your groceries because they might harbour (eek!) bacteria? Well, in my research I came across Chico Bag’s take on the belief reusing bags may kill you. The short lesson: L2wash’em!

Will keep you posted on other useful info we acquire on the journey and welcome your insights! Happy (sustainable) conference bag shopping!

Bags for Event Camp Made from Reclaimed Materials from Another Event

Good Design and Promo Products – Oxymoron?

May 24, 2011

Font Geek / Flickr mat_honan

I had a rare chance to read an old copy of the Sunday New York Times recently and was struck by an article on a t-shirt design contest at Oberlin College in Ohio. The article touched on something we’ve known all along – gone are the days of sticking your corporate/school logo on something and expecting someone to wear it. Rather than the college name emblazoned on the front of the shirts (boring), stylized and iconic symbols of life on campus are screened to perfection. Hallelujah.

So, what up with the promo product world? A lot of companies and non-profit organizations still seem to think their brand is enough to convince folks to pull their t-shirt over their head more often than all the others in the drawer (or grab their re-usable mug, their tote bag, you get the idea).

But, seriously, when was the last time you put on a t-shirt with something like Deloitte Consulting, Kaiser Permanante or Safeway on the front of it?  I can think of a few cool killers offhand & here is a short list:

1. Brand Police. We’re often presented with brand guidelines in advance of doing work with a client. By and by, the brand guidelines were designed for letterhead and AGM reports. They’re useful for getting the pantone right and for figuring out what the black & white version of a logo is really suppose to look like.  But too often they serve as the final word on creativity – thereby rendering the creative expression of a brand to it’s logo and nothing more. Brand guidelines are party poopers when you want to have a little fun.

2. No Time to Design. Last minute planning means folks aren’t empowered to drift from what they know their boss will approve without blinking. I can’t tell you the number of times we start a conversation rife with creativity only to default to the standard logo in the standard place because the time wasn’t there to get approvals and buy-in to designs that fall outside the box.

3. Lack of Clear Marketing Objectives/No specific audience. Too often purchasing  promotional products doesn’t come under the same rigor as other marketing spends. Without understanding your audience, intended outcome or call to action, the opportunity to align messaging with a clear outcome is lost. And understanding who your intended audience is can inform design.

In the case of t-shirts, the real challenge for companies is creating a true ‘wearable’ vs. another give-away t-shirt. All of us have a dozen (or more) shirts in our drawer, and all of us wear the same 3-4 over and over. So how do you get someone to pick yours as part of their favorite stash of tees?  You get them with design, people, you get them with design. Here are a few of our favorite and tips:

1. Secret Messages. Consider printing your core messages/logo/branding inside the t-shirt, under the flap of the messenger bag, ect (and use the main real estate for a cool graphic that has a chance of being work again and again). I’m sure the marketers are cringing, but imagine – it’s like a private conversation and reminder to your core customer that you love them every time they pull your shirt over their head. At a minimum, keep it subtle. Think left sleeve not front chest.

2. Be Cheeky. We did a run of t-shirts for a client called Pulse Energy who specialize in building management energy management software. Instead of a basic logo print on the shirts we printed ‘check my pulse’ on the front with a subtle logo hit on rear nape of the shirt.  Fun, especially when worn by their cute, fit staff.

3. Design first, Logo Second. Consider starting with a cool concept or design first and worry about incorporating your logo later. Here is a great execution of that concept by BC Based coffee roaster Saltspring Coffee. They printed a series of coffee molecules on their travel mugs for the true java junkie – their logo is a subtle link in the ‘chain’.

Pantone Mugs. Lovely. / Flickr elizabeth.graeber

There are very few brands cool enough to get away with just being themselves. Pantone is one of them. The “world’s authority on color”  goes so well with your morning coffee – their mugs get picked first, I’m sure of it. For the rest of us, think about design first, your logo second.

Report from the Green Meeting Industry Council Conference DAY 1

February 21, 2011

The annual GMIC Conference is the place to be if you’re an event planner or supplier interested in sustainability issues. Targeted at a wide audience, participants range from experienced green meeting professionals to those just getting started with green event practices.

The conference looks at events through a sustainability lens, and considers topics like venue & destination selection, menu planning, measurement tools, as well as broader topics like community outreach, CSR and sustainability objectives & strategy.

Portland is such a great destination for sustainability geeks, right off the plane you know there is something different about this city. I mean it’s one thing to have mass transit via the TriMax train – but a dedicated place to assemble bikes? That’s stepping it up a notch.

I had the opportunity to participate on the opening plenary panel on the business dimension of sustainability. We were a diverse bunch, joining me was James Tansey from ISIS and Offsetters , Ian Lee from the Sprott School of Business, Regina Hauser from the Natural Step and Guy Bigwood from MCI.

Guy set the stage by leaping onto it in a super hero costume – which, while making the panelists nervous, was effective in getting folks to contemplate what it will take to up our leadership and take on the challenge of being sustainability superheros. The session was casual and conversational and probed us on themes relating to business and sustainability.

The key message I’m taking away is that there is both risk and opportunity driving the business dimensions of sustainability. I was particularly intrigued by the connections Ian made between trends in the aviation industry (only 5 airlines will survive in Europe with oil at $150 a barrel) and trends in the marketplace towards localization. While our customers may be driving demand for locally made or story laden,  ‘charismatic’ products, (to coin a term James used) dwindling resources and shifts in global transportation norms may be creating the conditions for localization to succeed.

It was great to see such synergy amongst a disparate panel on the issues of the social dimension of sustainability, the need for fewer standards, and  the desire for more transparency in, and stories about, our supply chains.

I’m looking forward to keeping the conversations going over the next couple of days – tomorrow I’ll aim to get some insights up on the vendors and exhibitors that are showing their wares.

Oh, and go team Cedar!

Crazy Sustainable Commute – full length

August 30, 2010

On Friday we mentioned that the Fairware Team participated in the Crazy Sustainable Commute, a crazy fun event all about raising awareness on taking sustainable transportation to and from work. 5 of our staff participated by riding tiny bikes borrowed from some really cool kids we know (thanks guys!). Below is a video featuring clips from our trip.

Bike to Work Week

April 13, 2010

Flickr / neotint

Bike to Work Week is fast approaching. At Fairware we’re almost ready to go. Half of us have our bikes out for the season and a couple colleagues will be pulling theirs out in the coming weeks. Fairware is well set-up for cycling staff. We have a shower in the bathroom, adequate bike storage, a casual dress code and central Vancouver location. Plus, we love bikes and the passion is contagious.

There are many benefits to businesses that encourage staff to commute by active transportation including better employee retention, less sick days, improved morale, productivity and more. From an employee perspective, it feels good to get a little exercise before and after work and it’s a nice break from public transit. Plus it’s fun!

Here in Vancouver, the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition manages Bike to Work Week – and helps mobilize workplaces across the Vancouver Region to get staff out of their cars.

Is your workplace ready for the fair weather bike season? If you’re looking for direction, we found some great online guides for helping offices become more bike-friendly. We’ve included a list of our favourite links at the end of this post.

Check out this excellent article in Momentum Magazine which outlines some of the more innovative cash and tax incentives being offered in places like San Francisco, Oregon, the UK, and Australia. Pretty exciting stuff!

How is your office preparing for Bike to Work Week? Leave a comment below.

And stay tuned, we’re in the process of adding more products to the Bike to Work section on our website. It’s filled with useful products to promote your commitment to active lifestyles and sustainable transportation.

Guides to help your office become cycle-friendly:

Employer’s Commuting Guide: Is promoting bike commuting right for you? – San Francisco Bicycle Coalition

Be a Bike Friendly Workplace – Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition

The Cycle-Friendly Workplace: Your step-by-step guide – Australian Government, Department of the Environment and Water Resources, Department of Health and Ageing

A Guide for Employers: Getting your workplace cycle-friendly – London Cycling Campaign

Employer Guide to Bicycle Commuting – Baltimore Metropolitan Council and Baltimore Regional Transportation Board

A minute with the new guy at GLOBE

March 30, 2010

I attended the GLOBE 2010 Trade Fair last week with Stefan, our new Business Development Coordinator. We had a fantastic time cruising “the marketplace for sustainable solutions”. There was so much to look at!

We met reps from alternative energy companies, environmental management firms, green building suppliers, industry associations and more. It was fascinating to hear about the latest and greatest innovations emerging from these sectors.

And because we’re promo product geeks, it was also interesting to see the wide selection of SWAG being handed out by exhibitors.

For a summary of our outing, here’s a minute with the new guy at GLOBE:

40th Anniversary of Earth Day

February 15, 2010

What is Earth Day celebrating?

Earth Day is held on April 22 each year and marks the birth of the modern environmental movement. On April 22, 1970 twenty million Americans took to the streets and public areas to participate in teach-ins and show their support for a healthy environment. The demonstration was spearheaded by Gaylord Nelson, a senator from Wisconsin, and Denis Hayes, a Harvard University student.

Of great significance was the solidarity exhibited by varying groups and individuals that had previously been fighting for specific environmental causes (ranging from oil spills, to freeway construction, to the loss of wildlife) and the realization that they had shared values and great influence with a unified voice.

The 1970 demonstration has been credited with leading to the formation of the US Environmental Protection Agency and the introduction of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts.

jetalone / Flickr

My, has it grown…

In 1990 Earth Day went global with 200 million people in 141 countries participating. The event has been credited with contributing to the success of the UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The global scope and profile of Earth Day in 1990 helped many heads of state feel the pressure to participate. It was also attributed to giving a boost to recycling efforts. (more…)

Walmart Green Business Summit and Springwise

February 11, 2010

Photo by galaygobi

It has been one of those weeks that feels like months worth of stuff happened in.

We finalized the program details for AVEDA’s 2010 Earth Month campaign (this year we’re supplying them with stainless steel water bottles and recycled steel dogtags) – a program we love for a client we adore. They raise millions over the course of their campaign and we donate 10% of our sales to Global Greengrants Fund as part of our contribution to their campaign.

The week has been extra crazy following a February 4th posting on SPRINGWISE. What’s Springwise you ask? Springwise is a “global network of 8,000+ trendspotters that scan the globe for smart new business ideas, delivering instant inspiration to entrepreneurial minds”. One of their spotters spotted us and wrote a great post on our products.  SO WHAT?

We had a 600% increase in traffic to our website that day and a %1100 percent increase this week. We have also had half a dozen media requests from places like Dubai, Rio and Montreal, quote requests from all over the world and a partnership request from a major agency in the US.  All hail social media.

I spent yesterday at the Walmart Green Business Summit in Vancouver with over 350 executives from around North America. The day started with a rallying cry from David Suzuki – with my favorite moment being when he talked about rampant consumption and note “it’s what fuels Walmart for godsakes”. Once folks were good and rattled the day went on with case studies from major brands on the challenges. If you want a more detailed summary on the day check out Green Briefs for the press conference announcements, the website launches, etc.

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