Archive for the ‘Guest Posts’ Category

Smarty Pants: Fairware welcomes guest blogger Shawna McKinley

February 18, 2013

With this post, Fairware begins an occasional series of expert pieces presented by guest bloggers. These people are industry colleagues whose experience and opinions we respect, and we think you’ll be interested in what they have to say. The following post originally appeared here on 27 September 2012.


Tap #water stations prove how much is saved by ditching the bottle

Oracle OpenWorld’s unique approach to water stations is a compelling case study in water conservation for events. Since 2007 Oracle has gradually moved away from individually bottled water, to initially use five-gallon water bubblers and now exclusively uses water stations that provide fresh San Francisco tap water at 11 different venues.

Four different water station designs have been used:





The net result? A staggering reduction in water waste: from 4,369 gallons of attendee drinking water consumed to 1,020 gallons consumed. This while attendance has increased and no complaints have been received about attendees going thirsty. Just how much water has been saved? Enough to:

  • Serve 50,700 cups of water
  • Provide 420 four-minute showers
  • Flush 2,090 toilets

Furthermore, this has prevented the use of over 56,000 water bottles, which have an additional estimated manufacturing footprint of 13,600 gallons of water!


Graphic courtesy of Hartmann Studios

Do you know the difference you’re making by providing a smarter, more sustainable drinking water service for event attendees? Dig into the numbers and quench your thirst to make a difference!

Shawna McKinley is Director of Sustainability for MeetGreen, an event-planning company specializing in “green meetings” and based in Portland, Oregon. She lives in Vancouver, and is the author of Sustainable Destinations, a blog that shares information and ideas that lead to discussion and action about sustainable events and sustainable event destinations. Shawna’s favourite Fairware product is the lanyard library.

What you don’t know about sustainability could come back to bite you in the brand assets: Guest Post from Green Briefs

May 31, 2012

When we read this post that Lorne Craig of Unicycle Creative wrote for Sustainable Brands, we couldn’t help but share it. It’s a great read on what marketers need to know about sustainability (and why they need to know it). Plus, Lorne’s Green Brief’s Blog has the best logo ever.

The Golden Age of Marketing was like the Golden Age of Air Travel – a worry-free world of possibility, where confident captains whisked you away to exotic destinations with drinks served by beautiful people. No one made you take off your shoes at security. Heck, no one even asked you to butt out your Marlboro once the No Smoking sign was off.

These days, marketing is more like a round-the-world flight with 50 stopovers under terror threat twelve. Woe to those who don’t know what is hiding in their corporate baggage.

Welcome to Sustainability Literacy 101. Once the lonely purview of university professors and public TV documentary hosts, this thick file of supply chain subterfuge, carbon calculation and global guilt gone wild has now landed squarely on the marketer’s desk.

So what do you need to know? As no two brands have the same sustainability context, it helps to understand the issues in your space. An electronics marketer should be familiar with the traditional vulnerabilities of offshore manufacturing, like factory working conditions, child labor, conflict minerals and hazardous material content. Companies that make anything that goes in us, on us, or around us (think food, cosmetics and cleaning products), may have to go even further up their supply chain to understand production of sub-ingredients, sourcing of raw materials and even post-consumer biodegradability.

But can’t we just forward all those grumpy calls to the Customer Service line? Or better yet, to the freshly-minted Sustainability Coordinator in the repurposed janitorial closet office down the hall?

No, for two reasons.

Risk And Opportunity

As marketers, it is our job to tell the stories about our brands that engage people. As we filter through agency pitches, website content and social media mayhem, it is easy to approve an idea that could have unfortunate fall-out. (Like launching a North America-wide video contest for kids just as a story breaks about child-labor infractions in your supplier factory overseas) Even if your obscure B2B communications never see the public light of day, it is critical that you understand where you are most sustainably vulnerable.

Sustainability illiteracy could also cost you competitively. Many companies do more than what is required by regulation, and too often, the people and passion behind these efforts go unsung. These tales can be the stuff of viral media legend, putting you head and shoulders above competition that does not know or care enough to share them.

So how do you begin to tackle this world of science, faith and superstition?

Getting Started

One useful resource I have found is the website for the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), a widely accepted standard for sustainability reporting. Their G3.1 Guidelines put issues of social, environmental and economic sustainability into categories that can help you see which are most relevant.

Consider involving your sustainability department in a marketing brainstorming session, to create a stronger bond between what your company is saying and what it is actually delivering.

And don’t forget to engage your stakeholders. Talk to your customers, sales team, and executive about which sustainability issues are most pressing. This can narrow your field of inquiry into what might otherwise be a very deep rabbit hole.

Above all, as you embark on your Sustainability Literacy voyage, remember the world of marketing should still reflect a glow of the golden age. The main objective of knowing what your baggage contains is to avoid the rubber glove at security, but you should always enjoy the view out the window once you take flight.

Preferably while sipping an organic, fair-trade-certified piña colada with an FSC-certified paper umbrella in it.

Check out more Green Briefs here.

Two Words: Alignment and Authenticity > Guest Post from Conscientious Innovation

May 18, 2012

This article was written by Kierstin DeWest of Conscientious Innovation (Ci). Ci  is a strategic information company founded in 2002 focused on insight for innovation, business success and a better world. Ci produces the Shift Report; a strategic research tool specifically designed for innovation, business success and positive change. 

I was recently at lunch with two friends, one of whom brought her husband. After the couple departed, I found myself apologizing to my other friend for the husband’s rude behavior, the mildest part of which included leering gestures at the waitress and comments that don’t need to be repeated.

“Don’t worry about it,” he responded. “I always try to focus on the points of alignment with someone. There’s always something. And once I found them, it was an interesting conversation where we were both engaged.”

Alignment is crucial.

As businesses seek to define and tell their sustainability story in the landscape of shifting consumer values — which they must do in order to be culturally relevant — there has been significant focus on environmental issues where there is less likely to be alignment and which aren’t necessarily the most important to some people.

Sustainability (a word so overused, misused and abused that I’ve started calling it the S-Word) is about the issues that lie underneath it. These are a collection of issues that include but go beyond green and include personal, social and spiritual sustainability issues.

This was uncovered both qualitatively and quantitatively in our market intelligence tool, The SHIFT Report. These sustainability issues are important to mainstream consumers in varying degrees. However, across most consumers groups — from either a brand consumption, activity, demographic, lifestyle or political point of view — green issues are not necessarily the most important ones. They are significantly surpassed in importance by social and personal sustainability issues: community connection, fair trade and employee treatment. These are areas consumers feel personally affected by or connected to, and represent two key motivations for caring about brands and companies.

People aren’t waking up across the globe declaring, “I want a green life.” Rather, they are waking up saying that they want a connected, conscious, thriving and sustainable life (though they don’t necessarily use those words). Brands and their storytellers need to understand this in order to define and tell their stories and engage consumers in conversations. As one respondent put it during one of our focus groups, “How can we take care of the environment if we can’t even take care of ourselves?”

Environmental sustainability is crucial, but it’s not the only piece of the puzzle. Green needs to be looked at in the context of other sustainability issues, not in a silo. Green may turn out to be the best color of a brand’s sustainability message, but it might not be.

Unless brand manager focus on the issues that define a brand and determine which issues authentically align with their initiatives and audience, they risk making misleading claims, not connecting with their audience and potentially alienating others. When brand managers targeting a diverse global or national audience look primarily at environmental issues without interconnection and context to broader sustainability issues, the result can be a brand experience that doesn’t bring disparate and diverse audiences together, but keeps them apart. Looking at green in a silo doesn’t reflect a big-picture understanding of the cultural shift to sustainability, in which people are redefining the criteria by which they make lifestyle choices, purchases and brand decisions, It misses the forest for the trees, and in doing so can also reinforce sustainability myths, such as that those on the political left are more engaged with sustainability than those on the political right.

Indeed, looking at political parties in the U.S. and Canada and how voters connect with sustainability issues is a good way to assess brand alignment within a mass and diverse mainstream audience. For Republican and Democrat voters (or, in Canada, Conservative, Liberal, NDP and Green Party voters), alignment is not necessarily around environmental issues, it’s around all the other issues: schools, housing security, health care and general well-being. This bigger-picture, interconnected approach doesn’t minimize the importance of environmental sustainability. But it delivers on its importance in a different way.

Let’s take look at two social sustainability issues where there is alignment across a diverse audience: community connection and supporting locally based business, which are themselves interconnected. With the support of local business and local economies, the environment becomes the beneficiary (such as lower greenhouse gas emissions) rather than the direct strategy. Environmental sustainability issues are supported, but they are a direct result of focusing on key areas of alignment across a diverse audience: buying local and supporting locally based business.

Thus, brands — political or otherwise — that speak to a diverse audience have two key words to keep in mind when telling their story in a culture of shifting consumer values: authenticity and alignment. What can they authentically talk about given their initiatives around sustainability? And where do these internal sustainability truths align with their diverse audience?

Determining the sweet spot that aligns these truths will uncover opportunities that deliver on business priorities to drive positive change and business success.

Read the original post here:

Hope for calendar sales in the rain

November 24, 2011

Re-posted from the Hope in Shadows Blog with permission from Project Director Paul Ryan.

Over the next few months you might see Hope in Shadows vendors sporting new rain-proof bags, warm toques and large blue umbrellas.

The rain is more than annoying for many Vancouverites, but for the Hope in Shadows vendors, it’s more than an inconvenience – it really does affect sales. Vendors don’t have a choice if they want to sell the 2012 calendars as they are almost all sold on the street.

We’ve suspected for years that the rain affects calendar sales. In an effort to understand what was happening, we looked at the calendar sales results over several years and noticed a trend: when the “pineapple express” rain hits Vancouver in November and December (usually several fronts coming in from the Pacific Ocean, one after another causing many days of unrelenting rain), sales of the calendar dip. If the rains come in November, but we have a dryer December, November will be the slow month. If November is mostly dry, but December wet, sales will be slow in December.

The bags were made locally by Common Thread, a non-profit operated by the Kettle Friendship Society, also a location of one of our calendar vendor training workshops. Common Thread creates employment for groups such as newcomers to Canada and Aboriginal communities, and is also based in the Downtown Eastside.

I spoke to Common Thread’s vice-president and co-founder Jenette MacArthur who says the people making the bags were women who, like Hope in Shadows vendors, thrive in a flexible work environment. Melanie Conn, who coordinated the making of the bags says that they were made by people who, for a variety of reasons, wouldn’t fit into a formal manufacturing setting. Like Hope in Shadows, Common Thread has an overriding social purpose. “We don’t usually have a customer (such as Hope in Shadows) where we’re so in sync.”

Fairware, who sourced and branded the toques and umbrellas with the Hope in Shadows logo, is a local company dedicated to high standards both environmentally and socially.

The uniform purchase was a team effort. We were very happy to have the financial support of the City of Vancouver and the Betty Averbach Foundation.

New Report Reveals Trends & Best Practices in Canadian Municipal Sustainable Purchasing and Ethical Sourcing

May 12, 2011

The following article has been re-posted with permission from our friends at Reeve Consulting and originally appeared on the Reeve Consulting blog.

Read on to learn about the current status of sustainable purchasing among Canadian municipalities. There’s also an introduction to an innovative project called the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Purchasing, a group of municipalities from across the country that are leveraging their collective experiences and resources to improve their sustainable purchasing practices.

Reeve Consulting and the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Purchasing recently released the first annual Trends and Best Practices in Canadian Municipal Sustainable Purchasing report, the most comprehensive discussion of municipal sustainable purchasing and ethical sourcing in Canada to date.

Beyond revealing key trends across the country and valuable best practices, the report offers a national snapshot of how Canadian municipalities are implementing sustainable purchasing programs.

Complete with a listing of common program barriers and recommended solutions, the report is a valuable resource for municipal decision-makers looking to implement impactful sustainable purchasing programming.

>> Download the Summary Report.

The full report is available from Reeve Consulting by request at or 604-763-6829.

Status of municipal sustainable purchasing in Canada

Sustainable purchasing has become a hot topic in the municipal sector. Few other internal sustainability initiatives can directly contribute to multiple civic agendas around zero waste, climate leadership, economic development, staff engagement, risk mitigation, improved operational efficiencies and cost reductions.

While comprehensive sustainable purchasing is still a relatively new field for local governments, municipalities are finding the support they require through the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Purchasing (MCSP). Formed in 2010 as a pilot project, the MCSP is comprised of a group of Canadian municipalities that are leveraging their collective experiences, knowledge and resources to strengthen their respective sustainable purchasing programs.

The Trends and Best Practices in Canadian Municipal Sustainable Purchasing report documents the great wealth of expertise shared by these and other local governments, pulling from them practical insights for municipalities looking to advance their sustainable purchasing practices.

Emerging Trends in Municipal Sustainable Purchasing

Key findings of the study show that municipalities continue to give priority to environmental issues over social or ethical considerations. The study also found that achieving some noteworthy early returns on investment, particularly a strong financial return, is key for generating momentum and further senior support for the advancement of sustainable purchasing practices. Municipalities say that their efforts are focused on developing realistic annual action plans, implementing policies or guidelines and collaborating with others to share experiences and resources.

Best Practices in Municipal Sustainable Purchasing

Readers wanting to fast track their efforts will find great value in the report’s identification and description of the 10 Program Success Factors required to maximize the impacts and benefits of sustainable purchasing.

Among these elements are following a written action plan, defining a clear sustainable purchasing policy and product guidelines, developing supplier scorecards and Codes of Conduct that outline fair labour standards, providing adequate training for purchasing and staff and engaging directly with suppliers in sustainability conversations.

These and more best practices are discussed in detail in the summary and full report.

Municipalities team up to overcome the challenges

The release of the report also marks the first year of full-fledged programming for the MCSP, which through its collaboration and resource sharing programs will help participating municipalities address challenges and priorities raised in the 2010 Trends & Best Practices in Municipal Sustainable Purchasing report. This includes seeking goods and services that conserve energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and minimize waste, as well as increasingly using scorecards and eco-labels to evaluate suppliers based on multiple social and environmental measures.

Key activities and tangible deliverables for the MCSP in 2011 include:

  • 4 best practices peer exchange teleconferences
  • 2 technical training webinars on focusing specific best practices
  • The 2011 Trends & Best Practices in Municipal Sustainable Purchasing report
  • Individual customized action planning sessions for each municipality
  • Access to a helpful resource library

Fast Track your Municipal Sustainable Purchasing Program – join the MCSP

Local governments of all sizes are invited to participate in the MCSP. If you’re interested in joining the project, or would like more information, please contact Tim Reeve at or Kevin McCarty at or by phone at 604-763-6829.

The MCSP project is led by a steering committee comprised of the cities of Edmonton, Ottawa, London, Whitehorse and Victoria and is being facilitated by Reeve Consulting.

Guest Post – Eclipse Awards: Employee Motivation & Engagement

September 29, 2010

Earlier in the year our friends at Eclipse Awards attended a conference of Recognition Professionals International (RPI). They picked up some great tips and best practices which they shared on their blog Happiness Delivered in May.  We’ve re-posted their blog entry here. Read on for insights on employee engagement and motivation as well as an introduction to Eclipse Awards, an experienced, world-class supplier of crystal awards, green awards and glass recognition awards.

The following post was written by Toby Barazzuol, President of Eclipse Awards (Twitter: @tobybarazzuol).

Last week we returned from an epic conference of the Recognition Professionals International (RPI) Association in Henderson, Nevada.  For Eclipse Awards, the conference was a success on many levels – over 5 days we attended workshops and courses, learned best practices from Fortune1000 HR managers and recognition professionals, displayed our crystal awards while introducing our new line of green awards, and generally gained a deeper understanding of the power of recognition and acknowledgement to strengthen an organization.  In addition, our resident recognition guru Nelson Borges even became Western Canada’s first Certified Recognition Professional (CRP) after 4 days of intensive training.  In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing more of this knowledge, but for now, here is an overview of the conference.

The RPI conference provided an opportunity to network with HR managers from massive organizations that manage thousands of staff – 5000, 20000 or even 75000 people!  Companies like United Airlines, Delta Airlines, DirectTV, BELL, TD Canada Trust, T-Mobile and Wells Fargo were in attendance, as were organizations like the University of Florida, Ohio State University Medical Center, City of Calgary, and McGill University Health Care.  There were even attendees from India and the Netherlands.  In all, an amazing cross section of recognition professionals that provided unique insights into the current state of employee engagement, motivation and best practices.

Here are the top 10 key learnings, and though some may seem simple on the surface, they have some deep implications:

  1. Recognition helps reinforce positive behaviours and improves employee performance through improved attitude and morale. Recognition also improves employee engagement and commitment. (more…)

Responsible Education

July 19, 2010

We’re happy to feature the following guest post from Mary Hanlon, Founder of Social Alterations, an education lab for responsible fashion design.

It is no secret that human rights violations run rampant behind the seams of the mainstream apparel industry, while environmental destruction remains unchecked (alongside unchecked environmental degradation). Seeing responsible education as the first point of intervention, at Social Alterations (SA) we’ve set out to design interdisciplinary learning resources and tools that strive to mitigate these wrongs; SA is a transdisciplinary, service-based learning organization, an education lab for responsible fashion design.

SA Co-Founder, Nadira Lamrad, on what organic cotton means to her at the 2010 Fashioning an Ethical Industry Conference in London, England

We deliver key insights into the social, cultural, environmental and economic impact (both positive and/or negative) of fashion products and systems. At SA, we argue that designers and design educators have a responsibility to consider the social, cultural, environmental, and economic consequence and impact (positive or negative) of fashion products and systems. They can do this during the design process by understanding the way in which their product interacts with each of these categories through every phase of that products life. This is arguably the toughest design brief out there, (more…)

The high cost of cheap T-shirts

January 19, 2010

Photo: Johnnie Utah/Flickr

This post by Siel Ju originally appeared on the Mother Nature Network.

Learn how that $3 T-shirt could be creating water shortages, trade imbalances and environmental pollution.

In his book Ecological Intelligence, Daniel Goleman argues that even organic cotton T-shirts aren’t necessarily very eco-friendly, since they can still be shipped all around the world to be sewn together in sweatshop conditions before being chemically dyed in a polluting facility. Of course, conventionally grown cotton T-shirts still fare much worse under eco-scrutiny, especially those grown and made in China.

Just how ecologically damaging those “all-natural” T-shirts are has been laid bare, thanks to a feature article in the latest issue of Miller-McCune magazine. In “Can China Turn Cotton Green?” Chris Wood takes a close look at a study conducted by the International Institute for Sustainable Development in Winnipeg, Canada, that drew from an international network of experts to look at the cotton T-shirt manufacturing process.

Read the rest of this article on Mother Nature Network >

Ethical & sustainable purchasing around the dinner table

December 15, 2009

This post was written by Tim Reeve of Reeve Consulting and re-posted with his permission. For more great posts, view the full Reeve Consulting Blog.

Photo by

What happens when you bring some of the leading policy makers and practitioners in ethical and sustainable purchasing together over dinner? Lively and informative discussion on maintaining VANOC’s Ethical and Sustainable Purchasing (ESP) momentum, the influence of larger contracts vs. smaller ones, concerns of audit fatigue, as well as the importance of supplier engagement and looking inward at your own practices were all subjects discussed in a recent congregation of Vancouver-based thought leaders.

On November 30th Reeve Consulting hosted an Ethical and Sustainable Purchasing dinner with the goal of facilitating conversation between some of Vancouver’s movers and shakers and exploring the opportunities and challenges facing the ESP movement. (more…)

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