You Had the Meeting,Now Here's the Compost

Meeting attendees who are used to being surrounded by name badges and sponsored coffee-cup wrappers may be startled to be handed post-meeting detritus as a parting gift—made into compost and bundled with seeding pots made out of cow manure.

But this past holiday season, Seattle's Washington State Convention & Trade Center sent its clients a 100-percent sustainable flower-growing kit, containing a small bag of "Post-Meeting Special Blend" compost, a package of locally sourced flower seeds, and three "Cow Pots."

Michael McQuade, the center's director of sales and marketing, noted, "For years, we sent gifts that represented the exceptional capabilities of our culinary team or Washington's wonderful wines. This holiday season, we decided to thank our clients for their business by giving an eco-friendly gift that is not only fun to receive and use, but also represents the center's longtime leadership in the area of recycling and sustainability."

McQuade said Stephen Gould Corp., a Whippany, NJ-based packaging company, was "a real asset, in finding the different products and being cost-effective."

According to Art Miranda, a Seattle-based sales manager for Stephen Gould and the point person on the project, a similar program could cost between $10 and $20 per package, "depending on how environmentally conscious you want to be." In WSCTC's case, the paper is forest-certified—meaning that it can be traced back to whence it grew; the inks are soy-based, the peanuts are starch, and the manure pots are "very unique," said Miranda. "Molded and dried, they have no smell. Definitely not like you'd think."

Originally published Jan. 5, 2009