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A More Sustainable Meeting Starts With You

Happy Earth Day! Whether or not you own a business that is in the environmental industry, you might commemorate this day in some way. Some businesses take their entire workforce out to some area of the community to clean it up. Others start initiatives in the workplace to address environmental issues, like installing solar panels or starting up a recycling program.

If you’re one who sets up your exhibit show display at the trade show, we’ve shown you ways to green up your booth before. But what about your meetings? Many don’t think of how sustainable their off-site meeting practices really are, while others are highly conscious and only select locations that boast sustainable practices. But is there more you could be doing? Let’s look at the meeting industry and the considerations when discussing sustainability, from the hotel room to the conference room.

What Is A Green Meeting?

It’s hard for some to see how a meeting could involve practices that are detrimental to our environment. However, meetings can be quite wasteful, can’t they? All of those handouts that most attendees will discard into the trash on their way out the door, the food that comes from some unknown place, and the bottled water provided to attendees in the name of convenience – not one bit of it can be considered green. The goal when greening your meeting is to minimize any harmful effects on the environment. It has the added bonus of being more economical for you as well!

Think about it – instead of providing all of those handouts in paper format, put them online for attendees to access on their smartphones, tablets, or laptops. Not only have you reduced the amount of waste significantly, you’ve just saved yourself a bundle on color copies and staples or binding materials! Instead of providing bottled water, turn to the tap, a free option. To reduce water waste even further, only place  few pitchers of water on the table, refreshing them when necessary. Some people don’t drink a lot of water, so you’re saving money on the bottled water that will not be touched. What’s more, you aren’t wasting water out of the tap by providing each person with a glass of water.

So we know that meetings are essential to business, and keeping things environmentally friendly is essential to the state of our planet – all it takes to combine the two is a bit of common sense. Here are some ways you can ensure you, as an attendee or an organizer, can ensure a green meeting or conference.

DOS and DON’TS:

You know that the hotel provides guests with complimentary newspapers, but do you really have the time to read it? Maybe on the last day, when you’re on your way to the airport or going to commute back to work, but if you will spend your day in the conference room, ask that they pass on leaving a newspaper at your door.

Don’t want those freebies passed out to you during the meeting? Don’t leave them in the hotel room, where they will be destined for the garbage. Instead, take them with you and give them to someone else. Bring pens and other fun items home to your kids, or if it is a really unique item, determine who would benefit from it. Schools and daycares are a good place to start – pretend play is essential to a child’s growth, and items like clipboards will surely be used often in these settings!

Be sure you aren’t heating the room when you’re going to be gone all day. Turn it down, or off completely. This goes for lights and the television as well.

Skip the Keurig. There are a number of reasons for this, but the main reason, estimated by Murray Carpenter in his book Caffeinated: if you took all of the K-cups sold in 2013 and placed them side by side, they would encircle the equator a total of 10.5 times! What’s more, only 5 percent of the K-cups manufactured by Green Mountain Coffee are actually made of recyclable plastic. If you are lucky enough to get a recyclable cup, it might be considered too small to be recycled. Keurig is currently hoping all K-cups will recyclable by the year 2020.

Recycle wherever you go, from meeting room to hotel room. Talk to the front desk with their recycling receptacles, and whether or not in-room recycling is available. Take the extra time to gather and sort these materials later on if it is not.

Paperless check-in and check-out is a must. Ask that all receipts are emailed to you.

Talk to the front desk about local shopping and dining options that are close enough to walk to, instead of getting on a bus or hailing a cab.

Reuse all linens and towels when possible. The front desk will fill you in on the hotel or conference center’s policies. If the hotel doesn’t allow this, be sure to email the corporate offices to tell them why it’s important to you as a guest.

Choose a hotel or conference center that includes receptacles for recyclables right there in the meeting room.

Stay away from the teeny condiment packets. Instead, choose a place that offers full-size condiment containers to reduce waste.

Go with a catering service that offers menu items that are locally sourced and grown. Additionally, be sure this service utilizes china and silverware instead of foam or plastic.

You can hold a sustainable meeting! Do you want to have signs printed out for your meeting, like posters or banners, that are responsible and sustainable? Contact us today – we offer a wide assortment of large-format printing options that can be put on any material imaginable.

Do you keep sustainability in mind when planning an event or meeting?

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