In the midst of this holiday season, you may have the color green on your mind. But we’re not talking Christmas trees or dollar bills here, we’re talking about green meetings. And that’s a green that’s good all year long.
Earlier this year the Green Meeting Industry Council launched a campaign promoting the APEX/ASTM Environmentally Sustainable Event Standards. From the start, GMIC’s mission was to lead the charge for more sustainable meetings and events through responsible practices at our programs. But as an already overworked planner with no time to read long reports, what could that possibly mean to you?
We do encourage you to read the full report as time allows, but we’ve culled some highlights applicable to any type of meeting or event, no matter its size or location. These are simple and practical ideas that require very little effort on your part.
At your venues
- If recycling bins are not already in place, make sure to request some along with clearly marked labels — paper, cans/bottles, trash — and by placing the receptacles in heavy traffic areas.
- Encourage attendees to use them via signage and announcements.
- Consider opting out of daily housekeeping, especially for short-term meetings.
- Participate in towel and linen reuse programs.
Food and beverage
- Don’t waste food by over-ordering. Even small things matter, such as excess coffee breaks and eliminating rarely touched food buffets in staff meetings/office areas.
- Focus on portion sizes for group events.
- Eliminate bottled water and, where possible, serve beverages by pitchers or gallon pours.
- Never use disposable utensils or service ware.
- Work with your facility to purchase local food and beverage whenever possible, and to donate leftovers to area food banks.
- Create edible centerpieces. Repurpose any floral for multiple usage, and always put to additional good use by donating these to charities at end of program. Most will even arrange to pick them up at your venue.
- Recycle name-badge holders and make it clear to attendees that you will charge for lost/forgotten badges. (Many groups donate this money to charity.)
- Print only what’s necessary in quantities as needed, using only 100 percent recyclable materials. Ask vendors to do the same.
- Review signage needs with the venue so as not to duplicate efforts and, again, repurpose signs wherever possible with interchangeable information.
- Power down your office equipment each night when locking up.
- Encourage attendees to walk everywhere by tracking their steps/distance traveled from registration to general session and so on. Many health-conscious people now have daily personal exercise minimums they try to reach, so empower them with this information.
- Arrange airport carpooling as often as possible, and work with executives to cut down on wasteful personal limo pickups.
- Provide bus service sparingly; much waste is attributed to “constant shuttle/no wait” service.
This is just a starter kit of practical and easy-to-implement ideas; we’re sure you’ll come up with more. As you do, remember to track your efforts and share them with your clients, management, vendor partners and audiences. It can be just that easy to start a trend, one water bottle, printed program or name badge at a time.