The Clean and Green Club, August 2016

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Shel Horowitz’s Clean and Green Marketing Tip, August 2016
This Month’s Tip: Event Planning and Marketing Lessons from a Wedding, Part 2
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Logistics and operations—What we could have done better

event planning and marketing lessons from a wedding

Early Arrivals Trying to Keep Warm

Last month, I shared some of the logistical things we did right. But there were other things we could have been a lot more prepared for.

Work with Experienced Venues
Some of the problems we had were because this was only the third wedding they’d ever done. The first was the site owner’s own large wedding, but that had been more than 20 years earlier; she didn’t remember how she’d handled the specifics. And the second was a much smaller event for her housemate. So we were the first large-scale outside wedding they’d done in 20+ years. Several issues arose because nobody knew to raise them ahead of time.

Plan for the Unexpected
June in our part of New England is usually quite warm and buggy. We’d rented cooling fans and brought in several gallons of drinking water as well as bug protection—but the day of the wedding it was in the low 50s and windy. We didn’t need fans and the water, and we didn’t need to worry about bugs—but women guests in thin summer dresses with bare shoulders were shivering during the ceremony. My wife had called me from the site some hours earlier to tell me to bring every sweater we owned, and we passed them out during the reception—but we didn’t have them available at the ceremony, where they would have been eagerly used. The grandparents in their 80s spent a lot of the reception in the main house, which (unlike the rented reception tent) was heated. The rest of us finally got warm when the dancing started. The cold also cooled the food very quickly once it was off the serving table and onto a plate. And I realized during the reception that if it had rained, our contingencies were not adequate. The one tent we’d rented for the reception would not have been practical for the ceremony. Luckily, it was a gorgeous sunny day and that wasn’t an issue.

Revisit the Venue in the Right Season—Notice the Weak Points—Know What Questions to Ask
We encountered several very stressful surprises in the weeks leading up to the wedding. The worst of these was the site owner telling us that she didn’t think the house electricity would be enough for our needs. We brought in an electrician she had worked with before, and he gave us a $1500 estimate to put in temporary circuits for the reception area and take them out again afterward. Yikes! Luckily, we consulted with two other electricians and asked them about alternatives. Someone suggested we simply bring in generators, and that’s what we did—renting them for $300 including delivery and takeaway.

Making a site visit to meet the electrician just three weeks before the ceremony, we discovered a serious problem with black flies—something that we hadn’t thought about when we’d tromped through the snow in 20°F temperatures on our first visit. This time, the site owner met us wearing a face net! Fortunately, there was time to purchase 100 citronella bracelets and some citronella candles and incense sticks—which, as it turned out, we didn’t need because the same high winds that chilled the guests (and the food) kept the bugs away.

On that same visit, the owner raised her concern about overwhelming her septic system. We agreed to bring in a portapotty, but the wedding program didn’t mention it, I never knew where it was, and I don’t think it was used much except by the campers. Had we known ahead about needing extra electrical and toilet capacity, we would have negotiated on the price of the venue.

If I were doing an event like this in the future, I’d get everything spelled out in writing about what the venue was providing and what was expected of us.

Have a Point Person Onsite and Unload Systematically, in the Presence of the Point Person
Hire one person who knows where everything is and needs to be, has a checklist of what’s needed by whom, and coordinates what has to happen when. Introduce this person to all outside contractors and to everyone bringing in supplies. We didn’t do this, and a lot of things slipped through. Multiple drivers brought up loads of stuff and unloaded them wherever. People didn’t know that items they were waiting for had arrived, or where they were, or whom to ask. One consequence was that the bar never received the cranberry juice it needed to mix certain drinks, and another was the shuttle driver not communicating that he was taking a few people back to town—which resulted in others being stranded at the site. It would have also been helpful to the site owner to have one person she could talk to as issues arose.

In Part 3 of this series, we’ll move from logistics to marketing.

Hear and Meet Shel

Sunday, August 28, 9-10 a.m. ET/6-7 a.m. PT: Eric Moncrief interviews Shel on The Talk with Green Guy Show, WGST 640AM/iHeart Radio, Atlanta, online at

Order your copy of Shel’s newest book, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World

Learn how the business world can profit while solving hunger, poverty, war, and catastrophic climate change (hint: they’re all based in resource conflicts). Endorsed by Chicken Soup’s Jack Canfield, business blogger and bestselling author Seth Godin, and many others. Find out more and order from several major booksellers (or get autographed and inscribed copies directly from me).
Download a free sampler with several excerpts, the complete Table of Contents and Index, and all the endorsements.
Another Recommended BookBiomimicry
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Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature by Janine M. Benyus

Since I’ve watched videos of several of Benyus’s wonderful talks (including at least one TED), I thought I knew what to expect: a look at how nature can teach us the solutions to all sorts of human engineering problems, because nature has solved them eons ago. And nature has consistently done this with just sunlight and materials on hand, no special chemistry, pressure, or external energy source other than renewable clean ones, and no waste that isn’t used by some other organism for another process. Consider, for instance, spider webs: made from water and dead flies, using six different types of silk, a web is five times as strong as steel, and has five times the impact resistance of bullet-proof Kevlar, while stretching 30% farther than nylon. A web made by a human-size spider would be able to catch a moving jet plane, she says (pp. 129-130, 1998 paperback edition).

Published in 1997 and thus older than the talks, the book certainly contains some of this. Perhaps the most dramatic example is in solar power itself. Benyus points out that all green leafy plants and many bacteria are more efficient solar collectors than anything we humans have come up with. “Though [photosynthesizing organisms] use only about 2 percent of the sunlight that reaches the Earth, they make the most of it, achieving an astounding 95 percent quantum efficiency” (p. 260). So far, the best we humans have done is 46%, in an experimental array ( Typical commercial panels are in the 12-17% range (, so only about a fifth as good as a plant, even while requiring very complex, energy- and resource-intensive manufacturing.

But I wasn’t expecting the deep dive into chemistry, biology, and what she calls “industrial ecology,” and the wide net of applications for harnessing our growing knowledge. For instance, when we get past the limits of silicon-based computing to biological (p. 223) and molecular (p. 234) computing models, “a DNA computer could perform more operations in a few days than all the calculations ever made by all the computers ever built—and with a billion-fold increase in energy efficiency, and similar reduction in physical size.

Ecology, she says, is basically a form of accounting: making sure all the inputs and outputs zero out (p. 50). And that includes costing out not just any individual process but the entire lifecycle (p. 243). Benyus challenges us to incorporate these ten lessons (pp. 254-277) into all our human endeavors, and offers many examples of each:

  • Use waste as a resource
  • Diversify and cooperate to fully use the habitat
  • Gather and use energy efficiently
  • Optimize rather than maximize
  • Use materials sparingly [and let them serve multiple purposes]
  • Don’t foul their nests
  • Don’t draw down resources
  • Remain in balance with the biosphere
  • Run on information
  • Shop locally [meaning use local resources and inputs, a non-commercial version of shopping]

Number 2 in the above list is part of the reason why she calls monocropping (as most humans grow plants) a suicidal disaster. But she calls us to get past this unsustainable model, noting, for ex ample, that “diversity is also the cheapest and best form of pest control” (p. 26) and that we have life-friendly alternatives to “heat, beat, and treat,” even for making complex materials—as nature does with mussels, rhinos, and more (p. 97).

She also lists “four steps to a biomimetic future” (pp. 287-295); I might call them four stages:

  • Quieting: Immerse ourselves in nature
  • Listening: Interview the flora and fauna of our own planet
  • Echoing: Encourage biologists and engineers to collaborate, using nature as model and measure (this includes asking questions like “Does it run on sunlight? Does it use only the energy it needs? Does it fit form to function? Does it recycle everything? Does it reward cooperation? Does it bank on diversity? Does it use local expertise? Does it curb excess from within? Does it tap the power of limits? Is it beautiful?
  • Stewarding: reserve life’s diversity and genius

One key takeaway embodied in her second list, and especially stages 3 and 4, is that solutions are situational. The way nature solves the same problem in a tropical rainforest, a midwestern prairie, and an arid desert will be unique to those environments. They can scale within their own ecosystem, but they may not travel well.

This book is quite complex but despite the advanced science, pretty readable. And a great expander of the sense of what actually is possible by emulating nature in every facet of human activity.

Recent Interviews & Guest Articles: 
Five-minute interview on Jennings Wire: “How Ordinary People Can Do The Extraordinary” How ordinary people start and lead movements—and how Shel saved a mountain in his own town.


Mike Schwager:
How I got started in social/environmental change at age 3 and returned to it (for life) at age 12. Dialog with Jack Nadel, 92-year-old entrepreneur with a green product line. The easiest ways a business can go green—and the real 7-figure savings that are possible when counting all the costs. Why market share doesn’t matter, and how to partner with competitors


Western Massachusetts Business Show with Ira Bryck, Profiles of several companies that were founded to good in the world. Green companies as price leaders. How to get a copy of my $9.95 ebook, Painless Green: 111 Tips to Help the Environment, Lower Your Carbon Footprint, Cut Your Budget, and Improve Your Quality of Life—With No Negative Impact on Your Lifestyle at no cost.


Bill Newman: (segment starts at 28:28): A quick, intense 11-minute trip through the highlights of my work


Ask those Branding Guys: (segment starts at 9:23)



Todd Schinck, Intrepid Now, with a nice emphasis on the power of ordinary people to change the world: (segment starts at 2:28)


JV Crum, Conscious Millionaire, second interview: We cover my first activist moment at age 3, how I helped save a mountain, the next big environmental issue, and how a simple vow in my 20s changed my life (segment starts at 3:25)


Jill Buck, Go Green Radio: (segment starts at 0:52). The difference between socially responsible and socially transformative businesses, impact of a social agenda on employees, urban farming, new energy technologies…and a cool case study of how a dog groomer could green up.


Kristie Notto, Be Legendary: The perfect example of a business that addresses social issues, the hidden revenue model I showed a social entrepreneur, how a famous gourmet food company went head-to-head with a much larger competitor, what we can learn about engineering from nature, and why wars are solvable


Guest on Leon Jay, Socialpreneurtv (you’ll get to see what I look like when I’m overdue for a haircut/beard trim—a rare glimpse at Shaggy Shel)


Two-part interview on Steve Sapowksy’s excellent EcoWarrior Radio podcast: (Listen to Part 1 before Part 2, of course)


The first of two excellent shows on Conscious Millionaire
Connect with Shel


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About Shel & This Newsletter

As a green and social change business profitability/marketing consultant and copywriter…award-winning author of ten books…international speaker and trainer, blogger, syndicated columnist – Shel Horowitz shows how green, ethical, and socially conscious businesses can actually be *more* profitable than your less-green, less-socially-aware competitors. His award-winning 8th book Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green: Winning Strategies to Improve Your Profits and Your Planet was a category bestseller for at least 34 months (and is now available exclusively through Shel). Shel also helps authors/ publishers, small businesses, and organizations to market effectively, and turns unpublished writers into well-published authors.

Shel Horowitz’s consulting firm, Green And Profitable, is the first business ever to earn Green America’s rigorous Gold Certification as a leading green company. He was inducted into the National Environmental Hall of Fame in 2011.
He began publishing his monthly newsletter all the way back in 1997, making it one of the oldest marketing e-zines (it’s changed names a few times along the way).
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