Green Event Hit and Misses for 2009 Net Impact Conference

net impact2009

About 2,600 MBA students and business professionals from around the world got together a week ago at the 2009 Net Impact Conference at Cornell University to learn and discuss how to use business as a force for social and environmental good.  The event was a success on many levels, and I’d like to highlight some of the creative ways that Net Impact made the conference a great Green Event–as well as suggesting tips for improvement for future conferences.

Cause for Applause

  • Compostable cups, silverware, plates.  Great job at making those products available throughout the conference.
  • Farmer’s market closing reception.  Way to integrate Cornell’s/Ithaca’s local food growers and community in the event!  All that produce (and cheese!) from Upstate New York was quite a treat.
  • Partnership with Terrapass to offset the conference’s carbon consumption and staff travel.

Tips for Improvement:

Here are a few more suggestions that I’d like to add to Monday’s Triple Pundit post on how to reduce the impact of the Net Impact Conference:

  • Encourage participants to offset their travel.  People flew in from all over the world, which is awesome, but that creates a bigger event footprint.
  • Avoid boxed lunches.  There were times when people didn’t eat/use everything in their lunch boxes, from apples to silverware, which is a real waste.
  • Provide Electric or Biodiesel powered shuttles (instead of SUV limos, see photo below) for participants.

To be honest, it was fun to ride in that limo.   (And to Net Impact’s credit, the only two transportation options out of the Syracuse airport for visitors are limos and taxis.)  But I couldn’t help to think about the large carbon footprint of such a large SUV vehicle.  And then I thought about what such a car represents in our society: excess and unsustainability.  And that’s certainly not at all what the Net Impact Conference is about.  Perhaps next year Net Impact can get some electric vehicle company to sponsor the Conference and provide free shuttle services for all attendees!

SUV limo

Nayelli Gonzalez

Nayelli Gonzalez is Managing Director of Marketing & Strategic Partnerships at, a capacity building organization that supports the growing ecosystem of impact-focused conveners, accelerators, and mappers. A sustainability innovation strategist and storyteller dedicated to purpose-driven work, Nayelli has advised startups, nonprofits, small businesses and Fortune 500 companies to drive engagement and amplify positive impact in the world. She's a trained journalist with an MBA who writes on sustainable business and social impact trends for a variety of publications.

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