SHRM’s ‘Green’ Efforts Aid Chicago Students, Seniors

By Kathy Gurchiek Jul 28, 2008

Chicago students, seniors and St. Bernards will reap the benefits of a greener Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference & Exposition.

After the 60th Annual Conference, hosted in June 2008 in the Windy City, SHRM donated approximately 700 conference bags to local schools and shelters, 350 signs to schools for classroom projects, and 25,000 badge holders to local seniors when the four-day event wrapped up June 26, 2008. One hundred of the donated bags came from attendees relinquishing them when the four-day conference ended June 25.

“I am very pleased with the final numbers” of donated items “and I think this was a great start for our first green conference,” said Lauren Seplow, SHRM meetings coordinator and team leader of the 2008 Annual Conference Green Team.

SHRM partnered with the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS), which acted as a liaison matching recyclables with local organizations. CAPS was “a huge help,” Seplow said.

“They work with a lot of large conferences” and are experienced at finding homes for recyclables. “Most of the time when people think of green meetings, they’re just thinking of recycling, but it also [is] being socially responsible” in other ways, she said, noting that she “was most proud of what we were able to give back to the community.”

The bags and badge holders will go to 25 police districts for community distribution.

The Kankakee (Ill.) Sheriff’s Department, for example, will receive 1,500 badge holders and 25 bags to distribute to a seniors program. Many senior citizens like using badge holders for carrying bus passes and other documents, Seplow explained.

Bags and badges also will be given to other groups to be used for such things as National Night Out, the Cook County Senior Citizen Law Enforcement Academy, and the St. Bernard Rescue/Benefit that raises money for public awareness and rescues dogs.

Poster boards from the conference will be distributed after the start of school in 2008 to the Williams School and others in the area. In addition, any signage and banners not donated to CAPS will be recycled and reused by Freeman, the company SHRM uses for dressing its conference sites, Seplow said.

This annual conference was SHRM’s first major foray into implementing green initiatives at one of its conferences. Conference attendees can expect it to become a part of other SHRM conferences, such as the Diversity Conference set for Oct. 27-29, 2008, in Atlanta.

“We’re going to carry it over into the smaller conferences now” and build on those initiatives, Seplow said. “It’s easy and doesn’t cost anything to collect conference bags, and it’s an easy way to give back to the community,” she added.

She hopes attendees returned from annual conference with ideas that their employers can implement. She recommends allowing at least six months for planning conference-related green initiatives and emphasizes the value of using a team for brainstorming ideas.

Useful web sites Seplow recommends as resources in planning greener meetings:


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