Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year from The Hub!

...We'll be back on Monday!
Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve, everyone, and may your 2011 be off to a fantastic start!

Monday, December 27, 2010

EcoMonday: Ecoresolutions!

...What's a resolution, anyway? In most cases, they're just good intentions, and they often go the way of the dodo by March.
So what's a good-intentioned person to do? And what are the most manageable tips for a good, ecologically sound start to the new year?
  • Start small. Even something like changing out just a few of your incandescent lighting sources for compact fluorescent ones can make a difference. Small resolutions can soon lead to bigger ones.
  • Set a goal for yourself. Say you want to reduce office paper waste by 20% by the tim 2012 rolls around. Make that goal public, and make sure that you post it in a place that's visible every day, so you can remind yourself.
  • Make it a team effort. Your employees want to help, too. Crowd-source some good, tangible resolutions for your office, and make sure everyone has a role to play. You'll get a lot more done working together than you will working by yourself.
  • Take it outside. Your annual office retreat can work surprisingly well to get people excited about being good stewards of the environment--we have an annual cleanup day in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park, and it's a treat to be outside with our co-workers when we're used to seeing them in work togs. Trail maintenance days work as terrific team building exercises, too--the end result of seeing your hard work take shape in a trail that hundreds of people will use makes for a terrific confidence booster!
What are your EcoResolutions for 2011?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Hub Day!

Happy holidays, guys!
The Hub blog will be back on Monday with another great EcoMonday tip.

Monday, December 20, 2010

EcoMonday: Giftwrapping. What to do with it?

This is going to be a short one, because we know you have a ton of stuff to do in the next FIVE DAYS before Christmas. *Shrieks.* (Have you done all your shopping? We haven't.)
Anyway. We want to take three minutes and talk to you about gift-wrapping. Do you know that, although most plain gift-wrapping paper is recyclable just in your standard curb-side recycling bin, all that fancy pretty stuff with the foil and the glitter and the flocking isn't recyclable? And neither, regrettably, is tissue paper.
That's right, it just gets lumped in with all those unrecyclable plastic adhesive bows. Never mind, it's okay. We know you already have a ton of it purchased.
But hey, there's good news. Gift wrap is totally reusable. We're not going to suggest you make beads out of it, or whatever, like some well meaning and talented people do, but we are going to suggest that you take an iron to the stuff. Yes, you can iron your gift wrap. Takes all the creases right out.
Iron your giftwrap, reuse it next year. Who knew?

As for the plastic bows, well, those are reusable too, but harder to store.
So this holiday season, don't go at your gifts like some kind of sugar-plum-crazed four-year-old. Hang onto the stuff. You'll reuse it next year, feel good about what you're doing for the environment, and hey, save yourself a little money. (We at the Hub Twoffice haven't purchased giftwrap for something like a decade!)

What's your favorite holiday earth-saving tip?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Hub Friday: Wearing your holiday cheer on your sleeve

We do have a dress code here at The Hub. Our associates wear name tags and dark trousers or skirts. Of course, it's nothing like the dress code at UBS (it encourages women to put on their perfume right after a hot shower, so as not maximize the effect, and has pretty strict notations about the color of your nail polish and the shape of men's ties), but we do ask that our staff keep their shirts tucked in.


But the holidays are funny. How do you stop the Christmas cheer from becoming too much, without seeming the Grinch? Here, drawn from real-life experiences at other workplaces, are our favorite mishaps, from head to toe.

  • Ribbons and headbands okay, reindeer antlers not. We had an experience in a past life where an associate went on a sales call in a hat with ears on it. She thought it was cute. We thought not. Put it this way: Anything that looks like it belongs on an animal does not belong on a working professional.
  • The sweater question. To applique or not? Bad-Christmas-Sweater parties are fun, but they're definitely not for the workplace. Your guideline here is whether or not anything on your sweater sticks out more than--okay, your guideline is whether or not anything on your sweater sticks out. Same for things like brooches, pins, and other jewelry. If it's flashing lights or making noises, leave it at home. A nice tasteful snowflake will do wonders. No need to hang mini tree lights from your ears.
  • Color me happy. Newsflash, people: Red and green do NOT go together. They never have. (See "anything that sticks out" cautionary note above.) Red is fine by itself, and very very cheery. Stick to it and you won't go wrong.
  • Noisemakers belong to New Year's. We had an ex-boyfriend who wore socks that played "Jingle Bells" every time he moved. They had reindeer on them and a tiny box in the cuff that was motion-sensitive. It. Was. Horrible. The relationship didn't last, and we're pretty sure his socks weren't long for the workplace, either.

What are your favorite holiday-dress snafus?

Monday, December 13, 2010

EcoMonday: Holiday Shopping

Okay. How many of you have done all your Christmas shopping? Mmhmmm, we thought so.
Never fear! We dug up some options that are lovely *and* eco-friendly, along with a few guidelines for you.

Consider consignment. We've already ranted to you about the benefits of Freecycle Philadelphia, but you don't always get what you want on the boards. However, you'll almost always find something beautiful at one of Philadephia's great consignment stores, which take gently worn items (think top-notch brands like Chanel, Prada, and Eileen Fisher), sell them to lucky consumers, and then give a portion of the sale price back to the lucky person who thought to recycle her items in the first place. Consignment stores tend to be choosy about what they take, since they have to make a buck on it, too, so you can count on good quality. You'll find everything from belts to bags and great suits at a good consignment store. All of it makes for good gifts, and in Philly, there are at least two great stores we can think of, Greene Street Consignment and Josie's Sophisticated Seconds.

If you're going to buy new, consider looking for toys and gifts made locally. Foodstuffs and other consumables, like wines and honeys, make great gifts. We found Baxter's Bee Farm, a terrific estorefront that sells not only honey but everything honey-based--and Baxter's is located in central Pennsylvania.
Soap! From bees! In Central Pennsylvania! What a lovely gift!

Toys are an obvious guess for kids, but you can go one step further. Tree Blocks, a company out of Santa Barbara, CA, makes their blocks out of discards from local paper companies. The result? Remarkably rustic-looking toys that are somehow works of art in and of themselves. They're finished with flaxseed oil and last for years. And yes, they make toy treehouses, too.

Of course, if you're one of those who's a browser and a one-stop shopper, consider a dedicated green store like Big Green Earth Store, where you'll not only have a lot to choose from, you may also learn a thing or two. On a recent trip to a similar store, we learned all about wormless composting.

While you're at it, you may want to consider a gift that truly gives. Remember when you were kids and you'd spent all your allowance money on gum, or whatever? What'd you do when you had to give a gift? You did something nice for someone else, didn't you? Scribbled on a nice piece of paper some verbiage about baby-sitting or something? Guess what? You can still do that. Consider giving someone the gift of service. Take them on a date to volunteer at a soup kitchen. Or spend a day packing boxes at your local food pantry. They'll never forget it. And they won't be forced to regift the thing.

What's the best holiday gift you've ever gotten?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Hub Friday: Education is Elemental

We wrote a few months ago about our friends at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. (One of The Hub facilities is based there.)
This outstanding organization demonstrates that a potentially boring high-school subject (yours truly scraped by with a C-) can be fun and exciting, and even (gasp!) interesting. In fact, you need only look at one of their excellent competitions for high-school students going on right now to see just how much the folks at the foundation believe in their subject matter.
In the "It's Elemental!" competition, students are encouraged to mix old information with new technology: they're asked to submit videos based around an element in the periodic table. From there, their 3- to 5-minute video is judged on the obvious bits, like "presentation of scientific information" and "technical merit."

What will it take to make this interesting? The guys at the Chemical Heritage Foundation know.

But from there, the competition rapidly veers away from your run-of-the-mill science project: Students will be judged on overall artistry, and their videos will be carefully vetted to see that their chosen element is presented in a light that makes evident its historical and social significance.
At the Hub, we value education pretty highly. We think there's true social and historical potential in everything. So when we talk to new clients, we look at the potential to host their events as opportunities to educate the conference attendees that are coming in that day.
And we encourage our employees to continue to educate themselves too, on everything from social media to trends in meeting planning and events. This philosophy, we think, keeps us fresh, and it keeps us thinking in new directions when it comes to planning conferences for our clients.
Visit the Chemical Heritage Foundation's "It's Elemental!" contest here.
What's your philosophy of work?

Monday, December 6, 2010

EcoMonday: Closet Purging, and what to do with it

We've written before about our flooring and how important textiles are to the recycling industry. Textiles can be recycled again and again without much breakdown in quality, but they can sit in landfills for decades, not getting enough sunlight or moisture to break down.

Where does all this cloth go?

So what can you do? Here are a few tips as we head into the holiday season.

  • Freecycle it. Freecycle is a nationwide online network of people who are are constantly "gifting" items to each other. You send out a note describing what you have to give away and wait. (All posts are moderated, and the entire board is watched over very carefully for spammers and other unsavory sorts.) In our experience, you don't wait very long, and your stuff will go to someone who wants it. There are at least four Freecycle groups operating in Philadelphia, according to where you live.
  • Give the gift of an animal. Animal shelters often need old sheets, towels, and blankets to provide warmth to a furry friend. Consider giving your bedding and linens to an animal shelter before you put them in a landfill.
  • Dress someone for success. Dress for Success's Philadelphia branch takes new and gently worn suits to women who are just getting back onto their feet in new careers after economic hardship. The group also provides networking opportunities and career counseling.
  • Get someone to help you. Pottstown-based Recycling Services, Inc. has open community drop-off days for everything from your electronics to your curtains, so take advantage of their open house days and put your stuff in their hands for repurposing into something new.

Now go on--purge your closets, both at work and at home, and know you're doing something good.

What's your favorite way to recycle?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hub Friday: Showing Appreciation

It's over a week after Thanksgiving, but we wanted to share something that made us especially thankful.
It's just a little card that fell out of our wallet as we were rooting through our notebook after we left work last night. It looks like this:
What is it? We call it a Wow card, natch, and really, it's meant to help us recognize the staff members that make our clients' lives a little bit easier, and their experience at The Hub top-notch. Fill it out, it goes in a box, and we pay attention to every one.
Quite simply, it's the way we let people say thank you, because we realized something: getting to say Thank You feels just as good as having it said to you. Letting our clients tell us about something good that's happened in our offices is just as effective as letting them tell us if something ever goes wrong.
How do you show appreciation?