green_fan-1024x768-300x225Do any of you meeting organizers out there think that Green Meetings are a hassle?  If you haven’t already implemented sustainable practices into your planning process, then you’re way overdue, but to clear up any previous misconceptions, green meetings involves looking at the meeting decisions you already make in a greener light. Going green with meetings/events is so important because our earth is deteriorating at a frightening speed and without our help here and now, what’s to be left to the next generation but a bunch of garbage that can’t be cleaned up.  Nearly everything we do leaves behind some sort of waste, and as meeting planners, we are under intense scrutiny to make environmentally conscious meeting decisions to not only minimize our impact, but to set an example for the masses of participants we serve as well.   How do you do that?  Here are 25, not 50, ways to “Go Green” at your meetings:

Preventing and Reducing Waste

  • Use double-sided printing for promotional materials and handouts
  • Avoid mass distribution of handouts and allow attendees to order copies
  • Provide reusable name badges, such as plastic name tag holders

Recycling and Managing Waste

  • Collect all recyclable materials in all meeting, exhibit, and food service areas
  • Meeting Areas:  paper, beverage containers
  • Exhibit Areas:  cardboard, paper
  • Food Service Areas: cardboard, beverage containers, steel cans, and plastics

Conserving Energy

  • Select naturally lighted meeting and exhibit spaces
  • All room lights and equipment (including computers and projectors) should be turned off when leaving the room at the end of the day and during breaks of 30 minutes or more

Reducing Traffic

  • Select a site that will minimize the attendee’s travel time; i.e. located near an airport and/or public transit
  • Publicize mass transportation options
  • Provide shuttle service from mass transit stops or hotels to the event site

Contracting Food Service

  • Plan food service needs carefully to avoid unnecessary waste by choosing vendors who elect to use durable food service items, such as reusable plates, cups, forks, spoons, knives, etc.
  • Choose a healthier menu by using local, organic, or even vegetarian meal options
  • Donate excess food to charitable organizations

Lodging

Buying Environmentally Aware Products

  • Use recycled paper and vegetable- and soy-based inks for promotional materials and handouts
  • Consider selling or providing refillable containers for beverages
  • Provide reusable holders for handouts or samples (pocket folders, cloth bags)
  • When reusable items are not possible, select products that are made from recycled materials and that also can be recycled

Educating Participants and Exhibitors

  • Request the use of recycled and recyclable handouts, giveaways, awards
  • Request that unused items be collected for use at another event
  • Encourage participants to recycle materials at the event
  • Reward participation by communicating environmental savings

Key Takeaways

As meeting professionals and travel managers, we have the added Corporate Social Responsibility to set an example to those we impact.  When looking at our meetings under a different light, we can see how our decisions directly impact the environment. Spurred by this knowledge, we can make changes to be more committed to green practices like recycling, energy efficiency, and educating others. In other words, think globally by acting locally.

For more on creating environmentally sound events, check out this Slideshare Presentation: 20 Tips for Creating Sustainable Events