UNT symposium to focus on sustainability in hospitality, retail industries

Monday, April 19, 2010

What: The sixth annual Creating Consumer Experiences Symposium presented by the University of North Texas School of Merchandising and Hospitality Management. This year's theme is sustainability.

When: 9 a.m.-noon April 27 (Tuesday)

Where: Silver Eagle Suite of UNT's University Union, located one block west of Welch and West Prairie streets (1155 Union Circle)

Cost: Free

Contact: Joy Wright, SMHM director of development, 940-369-7051 or joy.wright@unt.edu

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- Sustainability is more than a buzzword in today's marketplace. For most retail and hospitality businesses, sustainability simply makes good business sense as companies seek to design innovative products, minimize the impact of global supply and ensure the livelihoods of communities. Through one business decision at a time, these companies are reducing their impact on the environment.

Students in the University of North Texas School of Merchandising and Hospitality Management will learn about sustainable practices in both the hospitality and the retail industries by attending the school's sixth annual Creating Consumer Experiences Symposium April 27 (Tuesday). The symposium is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon in the Silver Eagle Suite of UNT's University Union, which is located one block west of Welch and West Prairie streets.

Erika Harms, executive director of the Tourism Sustainability Council and senior adviser on tourism at the United Nations Foundation, will be the symposium's keynote speaker.

In her role as senior advisor, Harms oversees programs that are dedicated to preserving and protecting UNESCO World Heritage Sites -- forests, mountains, lakes, deserts, monuments and buildings that have cultural, natural or physical significance as determined by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee -- and promoting sustainability for communities in and around these sites. A native of Costa Rica and graduate of the University of Costa Rica Law School, Harms developed passion for and knowledge of environmental issues while serving as a consultant in environmental law and politics for the government of Costa Rica.

The second session of the symposium will feature Pam Marcus, co-founder of Lifefactory Inc., a design and manufacturing firm of green products for adults and infants, and Jen Millard, the chair of Lifefactory's board of directors. Millard, a member of UNT's Merchandising Board of Governors, is the executive vice president of channels and new business development for ZoomSystems, which offers automated, self-serve stores at airports, malls and other locations.

Marcus and Millard's presentation will highlight how the company developed from the concerns of medical professionals about baby bottles that contain plastics believed to lead to health risks. Lifefactory manufactures bottles that are free from plastics.

The final symposium speaker, Kirk A. Longo, is vice president of supply chain operations for The Apparel Group Ltd., a leading apparel manufacturing company based in Dallas. Longo, who held director-level operations positions with Tuesday Morning Inc. and Amazon.com before joining TAG, will share myths and one company's strategy for social responsibility across the global apparel supply chain.

The symposium will coincide with the annual student research competition showcasing the scholarly and creative work of both undergraduate and graduate students. This year's competition will feature students' work in composting, recycling and reusable shopping bags. In addition, four undergraduates will present findings of a research project titled People, Planet and Profit: Consumer and Industry Perspectives.

For more information about the Creating Consumer Experiences Symposium, contact Joy Wright at joy.wright@unt.edu or 940-369-7051.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108