We are all aware of how much emphasis has been put on being more eco-friendly. As a kid, I heard about ecology. Now, I hear about “greener meetings,” and sustainable practices are much more at the forefront of our industry. You may want to do your part, but not know how to even begin to implement your own program. Here are a few things that you can do to begin to make your next meeting more sustainable:
- Write it down. Establish a policy for your meetings, and make sure that you get all of your company or organization’s stakeholders to stand behind and support the effort. Distribute and promote your position to all of the people who will participate in making the meeting happen.
- Save paper. Utilize the Web to promote and connect people. Publish handouts online and ask that attendees download and only print those that they truly need. Utilize electronic survey software to gather feedback and distribute findings via e-mail.
- Save gas. Try, when possible, to do regional meetings where mass transit, or even drive-in opportunities exist. The savings in airfares and the reduction of carbon emissions are extreme.
- Reduce-reuse-recycle. Get your venues to commit to a plan to reduce the use of plastics and paper/cardboard, recycle materials post-event and donate unused food to the local food bank (if allowed by local laws). Rather than purchasing new supplies, see what can be reused from past events; or purchase things that can be used multiple times for future events.
- Think big. Use bulk dispensers for sugar, salt, pepper, cream and other condiments.
- There’s no place like home. Select hotels that offer a linen reuse program and bulk dispensers for shampoos and soaps. Just like at your place.
- Don’t forget to eat your veggies. Include vegetarian meals, and have meals planned using local, seasonal produce.
- Close the loop. Have your printed materials published on recycled paper, using vegetable-based inks, on both sides of the page.
- Conserve energy. Have your meeting venue ensure that lights and air conditioning will be turned off when rooms are not in use.
- Show your conviction. Tell attendees, speakers and the media about your success. It will be contagious. Really!
Take the time to think about how small steps can make a difference. You don’t have to go big all at once. Walk before you run … then quicken the pace. Sustainability is really all about common sense and communication. So, take a moment. Get inspired. And make a difference.