Everybody’s Doing It, But Few Talk About It
Incorporating green practices into your meeting seems similar on the surface, in that it’s a long term project, much of which is invisible to constituents. But unlike event planning, you’re never done. There is no “there” .
How do you make the shift from ensuring that an event goes off well, reaping the kudos for you and your team, while making sure you’re continuing with your sustainability objectives when there’s no end point? Do high standards, the idea if it’s not perfect it’s not worth doing, serve to enhance or stall your efforts? Are you afraid to bring your accomplishments up because then you’re open to criticism?
How about starting with the premise that Everybody’s Doing It (you included!) and start to build on what’s already working?
For example, you made the agonizing decision to eliminate bottled water at your conference, but once you did, and attendees got used to water being available in other ways, they think nothing of it. It may have been a little painful the first time or two, but once everyone could see no one went thirsty, it became accepted practice. Why not take that success, celebrate it and the associated water, energy, and waste reductions, and build upon it? Your next initiative could be to eliminate pre-pouring drinks at lunch instead ask the caterer to do the more elegant tableside service or alternatively have water, iced tea, and/or lemonade pitchers available on the table.
Same goes for reducing some printed and other materials. If you’ve gone digital with your onsite guide, but you’re still handing out conference bags, perhaps it’s time to revisit the issue. You may have to find another sponsorship opportunity for your bag sponsor, but in today’s climate, wouldn’t they rather sponsor organic or fair trade coffee stations than the bag that often gets left behind? For the sponsors who’s “stuff” fills the bag, what a great opportunity to educate them about ways they may reach attendees more effectively using on demand services, such as electronic marketing materials, rather than stuff that gets thrown away anyway – after they’ve paid for printing and shipping to your conference.
Or perhaps you’re like one of our clients, who have an amazing end of show resource collection program. They along with their decorator actively seek out materials that are eligible for donation or recycling, communicating throughout the show with the exhibitors of their intentions to make it a low waste show. At the end of the show when most are exhausted and have given up, they’re tirelessly rounding up leftovers to donate to schools and other charities.
Take the time to document what you’ve done and any associated financial and environmental savings, and accept the well-deserved kudos for taking some great steps toward sustainability. Then from there, identify one or two things you can do better next time. You’ll be amazed as you look back how good you’ve becoming at doing it, too.
-By Della Green