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10 ways to stay “green” this Earth Day


Posted by Kevin Iwamoto on 04/21/2016

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It’s Earth Day! What better way to celebrate than by continuing to keep our meetings and events green. So much progress has has been made in this area, but we have to remain vigilant – being “green” is not a passing fad, it’s a continued commitment to do what is right by our fragile environment and eliminating and reducing waste in our events world.

Our industry generates a lot of waste, unfortunately, and we still see a big percentage of that waste is not renewable, recyclable, or reusable. We should never take our eye off the ball when it comes to being green, and also marrying the goal of being green with corporate social responsibilities (CSR) in the cities and communities in which we work and host meetings and events.

If you are a parent and are part of the meetings/events industry, you owe it to your children and future generations to leave them a world where they can grow up, enjoy the environment and have a good quality of life.

So for Earth Day, here’s 10 quick tips to make a difference:
 
  1. Learn about how you can contribute to “green events,” and even get certified as a green planner via GMIC (Green Meetings Industry Council)
  2. Create branded signage that is reusable – adding dates and cities makes that signage useless the following year. Signs kill trees and introduces paint toxins – try not go crazy with signage.
  3. Cater your food locally and create a menu containing sustainable food products.
  4. Make sure you have instructions for venues to contribute all unused food to rescue programs, shelters, etc. It’s a great Corporate Social Responsibility practice, and food can be enjoyed by people who are less fortunate.
  5. Recycle everything you can (even attendee badges!)
  6. Site selection should always include attendee transportation requirements.  By selecting a site where you don’t need to have buses waiting and burning fuel, you make a huge impact on the environment for everyone. Reward business to sites where you can walk, which is also an attendee health benefit. Is the hotel and/or conference facility walkable to restaurants, bars, shops, etc.? If so, they should be prioritized in your planning, as they not only help the environment but they also contribute to attendee health and well-being.
  7. Make sure you check venue green certification – most companies use LEED designation or Green Seal (any other certification should be researched).  Note: Just because a venue says they are “green” doesn’t mean that they are.
  8. “Green” questions should be part of every eRFP.
  9. Use green calculators like TerraPass and MeetGreen; you can then promote your contribution towards being green to all your stakeholders and attendees.
  10. Read and research green meetings and events – there are a lot of great articles, books and whitepapers on “green” and CSR topics.  

“Going green” is a relatively small investment, but what you learn and incorporate becomes exponentially more powerful when your “green” and CSR programs become part of your meeting and events DNA.

Happy Earth Day everyone – celebrate and honor it by being greener in your professional role – but also in your personal lifestyle. Every little thing you do impacts the future of our wonderful Earth, and ensures its environmental health for future generations.
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