June 22, 2010 – Santa Barbara, CA – Santa Barbara, CA based Merryl Brown Events is honored to be nominated for the prestigious 2010 International Special Events Society (ISES) Esprit Awards for “Best Green Solution.” The ISES program is designed to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts, performance, and outstanding contributions of ISES members in special events planning.
Merryl Brown Events has been nominated for this award for planning and producing The Community Environmental Council’s (CEC) 2009 Green Gala, held at the Rockwood Woman’s Club in Santa Barbara, CA. The event was a gorgeous and green party that was not only beautiful and elegant but also had a very high waste diversion rate.
For forty years, the Community Environmental Council has actively taken to heart the motto “think globally, act locally.” The CEC is dedicated to moving our region away from fossil fuels in one generation. Merryl Brown Events took this mission to heart in planning out even the smallest of details for the event.
Two people on the staff sorted all of the event’s waste to ensure that it was recycled and composted, minimizing the amount of waste that was sent to the landfill. The event produced approximately 458 pounds of total waste. Due to careful planning and detailed waste management strategies, over 90% of that waste was diverted away from a typical landfill. Approximately 415 pounds of that total waste, or 90.75%, was recycled or composted, leaving only 10% actual trash. These numbers far exceed waste management practices of any standard event, and are exemplary even for an event striving to be considered “zero waste.” The remaining 10% trash resulted in large part out of the necessity to package delivered food.
These numbers were derived from a waste audit supervised by trained staff from Merryl Brown Events. There was little to no contamination of each of the three waste categories due to cooperation of event planners, staff, caterers, and participants.
Some of the other ways in which the CEC’s Green Gala created an environmentally and socially responsible event include using “save-the-date” cards that were paperless, saving paper, time and money. By using minimal collateral materials – printing 50% less programs than years prior, and not printing menu or place cards, far less paper was used. Using the projection screen was another alternative way to showcase major donors.
Guests were given one glass for the cocktail hour and were asked to keep it for the duration of cocktails in order to reduce water usage needed to wash the usual average of 2.5 glasses per person. Ridesharing, solar usage, green practices at home and work, and donations to the Green Gala “ask” were rewarded with Greenpoints which were then placed in a drawing for great prizes. Vegetarian meals were offered to all interested guests because there is typically less food waste when vegetarian guests are pre-identified and offered an alternative meal.
Turtle Dreams, a turtle and tortoise rescue organization, received all of the organic wheatgrass centerpieces for their turtles, tortoises and iguanas to eat, thereby taking the centerpieces out of the waste stream and recycling them. Wine and the fresh fruit and herb-based cocktail mix were both organic and locally sourced and the vodka served was organic. LED up-lighting from Bella Vista Designs reduced energy usage. The party favors were from Green Star Coffee, a local business which is both organic and fair trade. The coffee mugs were served with no saucers in order to reduce water wasted to wash an extra 220 saucers. Classic Party Rentals, one of our natural leaders of the event, is a company working hard to demonstrate its commitment to minimizing the impact of the rental industry on the environment. They committed to re-using all hangers that the linens came on and recycled all plastic and velon used at this event. All of the props and décor used were borrowed or items that had previously used at prior events.
About Merryl Brown Events
Merryl Brown comes to this work with almost twenty years of experience organizing parties, fashion shows, gala grand openings, corporate events, meetings, non-profit events, lectures, and intimate dinners, each with its own special look and feeling. Merryl formerly held the position of Director of PR and Events at Saks Fifth Avenue Santa Barbara, and has served as a trustee of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. She is a Lifetime Honorary Trustee of the beautiful botanical garden Ganna Walska Lotusland, which is renowned for its sustainable horticultural practices. Merryl is on the Board of Directors of ISES, Ventura-Santa Barbara Chapter, and holds the position of Vice President of Membership. She received the 2010 ISES Esprit Award Nomination for “Best Green Solution” for event planning. Merryl is a certified Master Gardener. She has a master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University and was formerly an International Banker with American Express Bank and Bankers Trust Company in New York. She is fluent in both Portuguese and Spanish. The mission of Merryl Brown Events is to produce beautiful, elegant experiences and events, created within a framework of sustainable practices and social responsibility. For more information visit: merrylbrownevents.com.