“Sustainability” and “going green” aren’t just buzzwords. They are literally the future of our industry and our planet. Putting together an eco-friendly event takes a little more conscious planning but, in the end, your clients (and the earth) will thank you. Here are ten tips to help you go green:
1. Choose an enviro-friendly location. While rural or pastoral locations with an abundance of trees and preserved landscape may be the first thing that comes to mind, urban locations can be just as eco-friendly. Many cities such as Minneapolis, promote programs such as bike sharing, public transportation, biodiesel fuel, and green spaces, all within the heart of the city.
2.Pick a LEED certified venue. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification is a rating system that recognizes buildings that adhere to construction standards of sustainability, high-efficiency, and cost-saving green practices. In 2016, Colorado ranked second in the nation for LEED green building, including Denver’s Colorado Convention Center and the Wells Fargo Center.
3. Book a hotel with heart. With an increased emphasis on green initiatives, more hotels are committing to renewable and sustainable buildings and business practices. Look for accommodations that use eco-friendly cleaning products, offer organic foods, are powered by renewable energy sources, recycle rain water, and with an architectural design that does not disrupt the natural beauty of its surroundings.
4. Manage your group size. By being selective about group participants and keeping that number to a minimum, you reduce the use of resources, travel emissions, and impact on the environment.
5. Be picky about F&B. Sourcing food locally diminishes the carbon footprint that would have otherwise occurred from the fuel and emissions that result from transporting food to your site. Additionally, farm-to-table fare is fresher, in-season, and reflects the local culture and destination-specific cuisine. As a primarily agricultural state, Wisconsin boasts a wide range of caterers who focus on local, organic, and sustainable food options.
6. Carefully select activities. Choose activities that don’t tax the environment or require the use of fossil fuels to transport your group to a destination. Consider a venue’s on-site activities such as hiking, biking, kayaking, canoeing, ziplining, swimming, or horseback riding.
7. Arrange group transportation. As much as possible, arrange for group transport to the destination, as well as to the groups’ accommodations, off-site meetings, or events. Better still, arrange for meetings or events to be within walking or biking distance to avoid carbon emissions.
8. Consider community projects. If you’re looking for a team-building or group activity, consider community projects such as clean-up of a local park or riverbank, recycling programs, assistance at a local community garden, assembling school supplies for local kids in need, charity scavenger hunts, and more. Check with CVBs at your destination, such as Catch Des Moines or Vacation Okoboji to find community activities for your team.
9. Approach conference materials in a new way. In the digital age, it’s not only more environmentally friendly to publish materials online, on thumb drives, or via apps, it’s more affordable too. If you simply must print materials on paper, opt for recycled paper products and use a commercial printer who utilizes soy-based ink.
10. Recycle and reuse. Conference resources and signage don’t have to be “one and done.” Instead, when you design your materials, think long term and reusability. Make signage language and visuals general enough that they can be repurposed at multiple events. Feel the need for floral? Team up with the planner of the event scheduled before or after yours and see if they’re willing to split the cost of floral displays or centerpieces that can be used by both groups.