Recently, I began a keynote presentation at PYM LIVE in Atlanta by quoting from the book “Everything I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” Sad, but relatively true, especially the concept of leaving things as you found them. “Greening” or sustainability is not really difficult to grasp. Plan for the future, because whether we want to acknowledge it or not, we’ll get old, time will continue to pass, and our kids and their kids will be here to deal with it all. So, let’s plan now to have them complain more about how we spent their inheritance than how we depleted all their natural resources!
It’s not difficult, you just have to plan to plan with a “greenish tint” for your next event. Here are a few things that you can insert into your RFPs and next venue contract that will make you a better and more sustainable planner:
- Detail your expectations – insert (via an addendum) that your venue of choice will adhere to the following sustainable practices: waste management, recycling, energy usage, use of renewable resources and conservation of non-renewable resources.
- Request that they detail how they will recycle all paper, plastic, glass, aluminum, cardboard and ,oh yes … grease for the entire hotel during your event.
- Request that they have clearly marked recycling containers throughout the facility and in the guest rooms. (Really, in the guest rooms, too!)
- Request that housekeeping shut the blinds and turn down thermostats and turn off lights when guests are in meetings.
- Ask that they implement a towel reuse program.
- Ask the hotel to instruct housekeeping not to replace consumable amenities daily unless they are gone. You’d be surprised on how much this wastes (and costs!). Ask that they participate in an amenity donation program.
- Use non-disposal plates, cups and glasses.
- Always donate all leftover food!
- Donate all table scraps to local growers for compost.
- Ask that produce/goods be purchased locally
This is my Top 10. The key is that you can always ask, but you must plan to follow up and ask for an accounting from your venue partners. Ask for the weight of recycled goods, amounts of food donated and to what organizations, etc.
Another easy way to go green is to choose venues that already have many of these practices in place. Check your venues’ Web sites. Ask the CVBs for assistance, and don’t forget to ask your sales person what Sustainability Practices they have in place.
In the end, you are responsible. Responsible for making a difference. If you don’t ask or don’t take the time to plan ahead, it may not directly affect you, but it will affect others … eventually. Make a difference, plan smarter, plan for the future, think green!
Kermit was wrong. It’s pretty easy being green, especially when you insert green clauses into your RFPs and contracts!