Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wonder Wednesdays: Quick Tips for Greening Your Meeting or Event

Events typically have major environmental impacts and it’s very difficult to hold a truly ‘green’ meeting- everything from printed materials, to bottled water, to ensuring attendees are comfortable by blasting the AC, gives most meetings a large carbon footprint.  Event organizers are left wondering- how can we make our meetings greener?  Old habits can be hard to break, but here are 8 easy tips for greening your next meeting or event.  

Agenda- reduce the agenda booklet down to a one-pages and/or a smartphone app.  This will reduce the amount of paper being used (and tossed at the end of the meeting) and it will make your attendees feel more tech-savvy.  If you still need to post more detailed information, post it online or in one central place where attendees get what they need.  This will also allow you to post updated information quickly.
Evaluations- this is another place where smartphone apps and online surveys can shine!  There is no need to distribute paper evaluations anymore.  This also saves you the time and pain of tabulating the results manually and typing up attendees’ feedback.
Giveways should be useful items that attendees will want to keep, not something cheap that ends up in a landfill.  You could raffle off a few great prizes instead of giving everyone something mediocre. 
One green idea is reusable water bottles.  If you distribute these, don’t use any bottled water throughout the event and encourage your guests to carry their giveaway with them and refill at designated water stations.
Compostable Items- sometimes it is impossible to do without disposable items.  There are compostable cups and flat-ware that will make your event much greener. 
Recycled Materials- many companies are offering plastic name badge holders and other items made from recycled materials.  Think through everything you are using at your event and everything you are distributing to your attendees.  Are these items green? Are they available in recycled materials?
Venue- find a venue that embraces green practices like recycling, composting and energy saving.  For US venues, look for a certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) from the US Green Building Council.  Many hotels now offer a carbon footprint report which calculates your carbon footprint based on some basic factors of your meeting.  Do your best to reduce the footprint each year.
Local Vendors- use local vendors as much as possible to reduce shipping and trucking products across the country (or world).  You’ll be surprised how much money you can save when using local resources!

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