It has long been thought that sustainable meetings are expensive to execute—the top reason that organizations do not implement greening strategies. For everyone who has bought in to this notion, I have good news. Green meetings and events have proven to benefit not only the environment but the economic bottom line as well (bonus!). What’s even better is that most efforts will save your company money AND time—who wouldn’t want that? The Convention Industry Council (CIC) offers the standard for best practices in their Green Meetings Report to use as guidelines for implementing policies of sustainability throughout your event. If you are already doing some of these things, keep it up. If not, it’s time to get on board! Here are some easy changes that your organization can make to help save the planet and some serious cash:
- Use electronic marketing collateral (i.e. save the dates, invitations, event registration, confirmations, etc.). You will save trees and a fortune in printing, postage and manpower.
- Diminish transportation costs. Alert attendees that you are taking initiative to reduce the carbon footprint of your event by eliminating bus transportation between venues that are easily walkable. You can also provide information and tickets for environmentally preferable transportation choices (mass transit) where applicable. Be sure to provide maps and allow for casual dress if you are asking your attendees to walk more than just across the street.
- Print signage, lanyards and conference bags without dates so they can be used for future events.
- Post session information online instead of printing handouts—when printing is required, use recycled paper, vegetable based ink and double sided copies.
- Serve condiments and dry snacks in bulk—the product is less expensive and eliminates excess packaging.
- Skip bottled water in favor of water dispensers. If you are hosting a three day meeting for 500 people, you can expect to spend an average of $12K – $18K on bottled water— if you stick with tap water, this becomes a direct savings and keeps 3,000 – 5,000 plastic bottles out of the trash.
- Use laptops and inkjet printers rather than desktops and laser printers (both use less energy).
- Collect plastic name badge holders for use at future events.
- Recycle paper, cans, bottles and toner/ink cartridges. While recycling will not directly save you money you should implement a plan and notify local media—it is the responsible thing to do and may just get your event some good press!
Once again, an old adage rings true: “every little bit counts”. Each environmentally sound choice you make will add up to a big impact on the overall environment. If your decision makers are still hesitant to sign off on these changes, just remind them that the more precious our natural resources become, the more economic savings will be realized when implementing sustainable practices. Check out further updates on key areas where sustainability is making an impact in the event world.