Sustainability Conferences Come to Downtown Tulsa

Tulsa Master Recyclers Association

ECO-EXPERTS: Speakers for this year’s OSU Sustainability Conference are from the left, OSU’s Mauralee Boersma and Dr. James Pappas, OGE Energy Corp’s Trish Horn, Southwest Airlines’ Elaine Karnes, Flintco’s Terrell Hoagland, KPMG’s Joanne Beatty, Hertz’s Joy Lehman, OSU’s Dr. Scott Johnson and Julie Weathers.

BETH TURNER for GTR Newspapers

Downtown Tulsa hosted two sustainability conferences in one weekend, highlighting an increase of interest in sustainability locally and nationwide. Downstairs in the Hyatt Regency, Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business hosted its 2nd Annual Sustainable Enterprise Conference. Upstairs, The Environmental Federation of Oklahoma hosted its 21st Annual Meeting with the theme, “Smart Growth: Balancing Resources, Environment and the Economy.”

Upstairs, the M.E.T.’s Executive Director Michael Patton says many in attendance were corporate and government officials, and how someone dumping coffee on him turned into a lifelong love of helping Tulsa get greener. “ I do see Tulsa embracing sustainability…I think we are making real progress.” See his Power Point at

At OSU’s conference, some of my favorite tips came from Tulsa experts. Energy Corporation’s Trish Horn spoke about how creating a culture of empowering employees to get involved in the sustainability processes created the added benefit of better retention rates and customer loyalty. “We believe our practices of driving sustainability, community involvement and company transparency help people trust us as they learn these new ways of doing things. What a win-win for everyone.”

Flintco Director of Sustainable Projects Terrell Hoagland stated statistics about internal reduction in paper usage and storage. “Flintco stores all the data of every project we do. Through implementing e-storage and better printing practices, we are down from archiving 18-20 boxes per project to just one box. That makes it easy to see that sustainability processes really do work.”

Event Recycling Picks Up With Patrons and Vendors
Events like the Tulsa State Fair and Yonder Mountain Harvest Festival are great fun for kids and adults alike, but they do create an overnight village complete with city issues such as trash disposal. After several years of teams working hard to educate event patrons and vendors on what waste goes in which bin, the results include less oversight and more participation. The Tulsa State Fair website lists a five-year recycling total of more than 50 thousand pounds of cardboard, 1434 pounds of plastic bottles and aluminum cans, and new to 2012, 5400 pounds of glass.

Recycling volunteer organizer Lauren “Rainbow” Lunsford says, “Each year we keep track of how much recycling we take in and this year we were even able to add a new area of glass that the fair’s waste manager identified as coming from the margarita vendor.” Anyone interested in helping an event organize a trash and recycling plan, email or you can email me directly at

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for great tips, eco freebies and more TrashTalkTulsa. Favorite tweet of the month comes from KnowYourTrash: “Congratulations Tulsa – You are recycling nearly 350 tons of recycling a week since the start of the City of Tulsa’s new refuse program!”

Updated 10-29-2012

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