Sustainability at The Event: Five Ways to Get Involved


By Samantha Veide, Mars Drinks

According to the 2015 SCAA membership survey (hot off the presses!) sustainability is very important to you, our membership.

  • 47 percent of you say that you would not belong to any association that did not dedicate resources toward conservation and sustainability;
  • And 9 out of 10 of you are interested in resources that are related to sustainability practices.

The Event is an excellent way to learn about what the specialty industry is doing to address sustainability concerns, and to explore ways you can support and get involved in these efforts.

Take the Go Green Pledge

Since 2012, SCAA has been working to create and implement a Sustainable Events Strategy to ensure that we are reducing our environmental impact and leaving a positive social and environmental legacy for all association events. The strategy was designed in accordance with the leading sustainable event industry standards—ISO 20121 Event Sustainability Management Systems and APEX/ASTM Environmentally Sustainable Meeting Standards. SCAA is proud to report we achieved an 89 percent on our first assessment in 2014—an extremely high score for an event of this size, especially for a first-time audit.

Show your support for this year’s Event by doing your part, and take the Go Green Pledge

Check Out a Sustainability Lecture

There are a number of lectures addressing sustainability directly at this year’s Event. The line-up includes some true thought leaders in the sustainability space, covering a diversity of topics. Some of the lectures most anticipated lectures are:

  • 4/10/15, 9-10:15am – Sustainability In Practice: How Sustainability Professionals In Specialty Turn Good Ideas Into Better Business Practices
  • 4/10/15, 10:30-11:45am – Understanding Payments For Environmental Services (PES) As Value Creators And Brand Differentiators
  • 4/12/15, 10:30-11:45am -The Young and The Restless: Youth, Rural Communities, and the Future of the Coffee Sector

Don’t just attend; engage in the dialogue. Ask good questions. Help us keep these topics alive after the show ends.

Get to know the 2015 SCAA Sustainability Award Winner

The Sustainability Council created this award in 2003 to promote, encourage, and honor the efforts of those serving as role models in fields of sustainability. Bukonzo Joint Co-operative Union is the recipient of this year’s award, for their project “Gender Action Learning System (GALS): enhancing the participation of women coffee farmers in western Uganda.” Gender inequality and the lack of full participation by women in decision-making and financial planning for family coffee businesses are key contributors to poverty and a decrease in productivity in rural coffee-farming communities. Bukonzo Joint is challenging this narrative.

Learn more about their efforts by:

  • Attending opening ceremonies when the award will be presented
  • Attending the “Innovating for Sustainability” Lecture (4/11/15, 9-10:15am) to hear about this work directly from Paineto Baluku, general manager of Bukonzo Joint Coffee Co-operative.
  • Stop by the SCAA Membership Booth to meet representatives from this project (can we verify that this is happening?)

Visit the Exhibit Hall

Talk to the various organizations working for sustainability in our field. Approach these groups and ask questions—learn about what they are doing, engage in conversation and ask how you can get involved. Along with excellent representation for the certification organizations like Fair Trade USA (booth 13107), Fairtrade International (11104), UTZ Certified (2022), The Rainforest Alliance (10045) there are other coffee-connected nonprofits in attendance: Grounds for Health (13096), Food 4 Farmers (1017) and Coffee Kids (6031) just to name a few.

Say Thank You!

Finally, show appreciation to the people in our industry who are working to ensure the long-term health of the coffee sector—say thanks to the SCAA event staff working hard to continuously make these events more green; the Green Squad volunteers explaining repeatedly (with a smile!) compost vs recycling; the farmers trying innovative agronomy techniques to build more resilient coffee farms; BUNN, the 2015 sustainability sponsor making the water refresh stations available to attendees; and the many others who make efforts—large and small—to make the coffee industry more sustainable for everyone involved.

See you on the floor!

Samantha Veide is the director of corporate sustainable solutions for Mars Drinks and the current chair of the SCAA Sustainability Council.