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Good Information on Greening Your Meetings July 7, 2011

Filed under: Event and Meeting Tips — attract2engage @ 6:07 pm

Green Meeting Guidelines – Click here for a cohesive explanation of how, what when and why you should be greening your meetings.

It seems like “Going Green” is just as hot of a topic as “Social Media” is these days. If you are a meeting planner, you might have had your clients more recently ask you what your policy was on greening your meetings and how do you implement these plans. Rather than building your own set of standards and asking the hotel or convention center to build it into your contract, check out these tips I have gathered along the way.

For a quick reference, you can always count on these 5 things:

  • Eliminate paper
  • Do an “eco-audit”
  • Reuse and recycle everything
  • Communicate with your venue

For 50 More Specific Tips…..

Site Selection

1) Start with a detailed statement of environmental expectations for your meeting, along with measurable goals so you benchmark results.

2) If a destination requires extensive attendee travel, consider using carbon off set programs.

3) Ask if the destination you’re considering has an environmentally sound disposal system for solid and liquid wastes. Does it have a program in place to reduce the consumption of water? Does it have a program in place to reduce energy consumption?

4) Consider cities withmass transit systems that connect major venues with each other and with major transportation hubs (i.e., airports, train stations).

5) Ask if the hotel has a recycling program that includes the collection of materials such as paper, metal, glass, and plastic.

6) Is the hotel staff instructed to shut blinds, turn off lights, and turn down the heat/air conditioning when guest rooms and meeting rooms are vacant?

7) Do guest rooms have dispensers for soaps, shampoos, and lotions, or does the property donate unused amenities to charity?

Are guests offered the option to re-use linens/towels? Is the housekeeping staff fully trained to follow guests’ wishes?

9) If using multiple facilities, choose locations where the hotel and event venue are within walking distance of each other.

10) Ask the hotel or venue to provide banquet event orders and rooming lists electronically, in addition to providing electronic check-in and checkout services for attendees.

11) Ask the CVB and local destination management companies to recommend venues and suppliers that have environmental practices in place.

12) Consider off-site events, activities, and tours that involve event attendees in the area’s natural environment with minimal impact.


13) Inform transportation companies of your environmental preferences and ask about their environmental practices.

*14) Include a clause in your contract with the transportation provider that states their commitment to comply with your environmental requests.

15) Alert attendees to environmentally preferable transportation choices, such as mass transit and carpooling for getting to their destination.

16) Arrange for shuttles, rather than cabs, to transport attendees to and from the airport and the event venue.

17) Ask transportation providers if they follow environmentally responsible maintenance and recycle used oil, batteries, antifreeze, and tires.

18) Ask providers if they train drivers to minimize idling and the use of air conditioners, especially when no passengers are in the vehicle.

19) Ask providers if they offer fuel-efficient or alternative fuel vehicles.

20) Provide a public transit pass and map in attendees’ registration packets.

Air Transportation

21) Ask airlines if they use reusable or biodegradable service ware.

22) Ask if they collect service items used in flight and recycle them.

23) Ask what efforts the airline has made to improve the fuel efficiency of its fleet.

Food & Beverage

24) Inform F&B suppliers of your environmental preferences and ask about their environmental practices.

*25) Include a clause in the contract with suppliers and caterers that states their commitments to comply with your environmental requests.

26) Require by contract that the caterer use reusable cutlery, dishware, linens, and decorations. If disposables are unavoidable, make sure they contain a significant amount of recycled content.

27) Require that they use compostable and/or biodegradable products only when they are able to be disposed of in a municipal or commercial facility operated in accordance with best composting management practices.

28) Ask that condiments, beverages, and other food items be provided in bulk instead of individually packaged and that any packaging is recyclable and recycled.

*29) Ask themto use locally produced seasonal and/or organic food and beverages when possible.

30) Ask that leftover foods be donated to a local food bank or soup kitchen, or composted. Donate table scraps to farms where possible.

*31) Have attendees sign up for meals on the registration form to indicate their intentions to attend specific meal functions throughout the event. Better attendance numbers will reduce food waste and costs. (this also helps your F&B Minimum stay low if you’re on a tight budget!)

On Site

32) Instead of speaker and/or attendee gifts make a donation to a local charity.

33) Have attendees bring a conference bag from home and have a contest for the most unique or creative bag. (or if it’s an annual event, have a contest for who has the oldest conference bag!)

34) If you are exhibiting at a trade show, consider the following practices:

•minimize packaging and recycle packaging when appropriate

• use products that contain a significant amount of recycled content as giveaways and do not use gift items made from endangered or threatened species

• recycle cardboard, pallets, paper, cans, plastic, glass, and other recyclable materials

• ensure clean-up crews are trained to keep recyclable and reusable items out of the garbage

• choose decorations and display materials that can be reused and/or are made out of recycled materials

• try to use locally grown/made products for give-aways.

35) Provide materials electronically on memory sticks or on a Web site for future reference.

36) Bring only what is needed for the event; reuse what is not distributed. Inform facilities and decorators of your environmental preferences and ask about their environmental practices.

37) Reduce transportation emissions and support local economies by using local speakers and entertainers whenever possible.

38) Consider opening each plenary session with a green tip of the day.

39) Communicate the event’s green initiatives to attendees, stakeholders, and the media.

40) Reduce paper use by using the Web and e-mail to promote the event.

41) For materials that need to be printed, print on double-sided, post-consumer, recycled paper using vegetable-based inks.

42) Reuse nametags by providing collection bins for them.

43) Save directional, food and beverage, and other generic signs for reuse.

44) Turn off lights in meeting rooms, office, and guest rooms when not using them.

45) Use in‐roomTV or hotel telephone message service for on-site meeting announcements instead of printed changes.

46) Recycle key cards.

47) Eliminate water bottles and either give attendees refillable water bottles or paper cups made with a minimum of 30 percent post-consumer recycled content, not glasses and pitchers.

48) Set up collection stations for any printed materials or collateral so that they can be recycled.

49) Ask attendees for feedback on other ways you can make the meeting “green” the next time.

50) Remember: You don’t have to be 100 percent green; even one small change or decision can help lessen your impact on the environment.

These 50 tips were pulled from


As you can see from these tips, every little bit helps.  Plus your attendees will notice the efforts and appreciate that you made it easier for them to “be green” as well. It will also look good for the association, organization or group who you are planning the meetings for. People won’t forget your efforts, especially when it’s such a hot topic in today’s world!




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