Kermit the Frog lamented, “It’s not that easy being green.” That may be true for Kermit and his particular brand of greenness, but it doesn’t have to be that way for green meetings. Sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) are terms that continue to generate thought in the events industry. If you’re still not sure what those terms mean or how they impact the way you plan, here are the definitions:
Sustainability is a method of using a resource so that the resource is not depleted.
Corporate social responsibility is an organization’s sense of responsibility towards the community and environment. The hospitality industry might express this through their waste and pollution reduction processes, or contributing to educational and social programs.
How can you plan with greener practices in place? How can you work better with hoteliers and vendors to make sure they are using the best practices? Here are some ideas:
Interactive technologies like tablets, video walls, and kiosks allow you to communicate your messages electronically on a real-time basis, saving on both paper and printing. Some ways to work them into your program include using them for:
1. Directional signage for a conference or meeting
2. Maps of the property and/or the tradeshow floor
3. Agendas for conventions or conferences
4. Speaker bios
5. Live speaker video feed to the hotel lobby
6. Videos and photos of the property, event, or current happenings in the city
7. Conference handouts
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle by offering recycling bins, and/or partnering with sustainable organizations that help keep materials out of landfills and allows them to be re-purposed instead. Let guests know of your efforts so they can participate—and feel good about doing it. For example:
1. Put a sign by the light switch asking guests to turn off the lights when they leave their rooms.
2. Eliminate paper and plastic products and replace with glass, china, and silverware.
3. Ask for filtered water in pitchers instead of individual water bottles
4. Make sure you host hotel has a towel- and linen-reuse program (only changing them out when specifically requested) and encourage your guests to use it. This is helpful anywhere, but particularly for meetings in the West, where drought conditions are at historic levels. Very likely guests won’t resent being asked to make small sacrifices if you let them know how their contributions will help. Use an online calculator to predict the energy savings your group will generate by participating.
5. Ask if your hotel is LEED certified and/or participates in environmental initiatives. In the past decade, many more U.S. hotels have come on board.
6. Donate banners that cannot be used again to organizations that will recycle them into message bags, file folders, wallets, or attendee goody bags.
7. Work with vendors to set up recycling bins all around the hotel property, including guest rooms, meeting spaces, and even on-board transportation.
8. Ask if your hotel works with an organization like Clean the World, which collects unused amenities like soap and shampoo, then recycles and distributes to communities in need. Clean the World will send a helpful status report at the end of your event to say how much was collected, which you can share with attendees in post-show outreach.
Transportation contributes to your carbon footprint, of course, so be conscious of that when considering your transportation options. To green up your transportation:
1. Understand the most efficient ways your guests can get to your hotel or destination. Promote those ways on your website for meetings when transportation is not being covered.
2. Utilize bus shuttle service instead of individual sedans to get groups to/from the airport versus.
3. If individual sedans are necessary, work with companies that offer hybrid or electric cars.
4. Consider destinations with a high ‘walkability’ score.
5. Encourage attendees to walk to local restaurants and attractions and/or share a cab when they have free time.
We would love to hear what your groups and hotels are doing to be eco-friendly!