Large or small, meetings bring people together to share information, generate ideas, and make business connections. When you think of being green or sustainable, managing waste is usually the first thing that comes to mind. A sustainable meeting or event goes beyond recycling or zero waste events.

A sustainable meeting is defined as a “meeting that incorporates environmental considerations throughout all stages of the meeting in order to minimize the negative impact on the environment.”

Greening an event encompasses all aspects of the planning process. By making choices at every planning level, from site selection to donations after the event, the environmental impact can be significantly reduced. While it means taking steps to minimize waste through recycling, composting and avoiding disposable items it also includes decreasing energy consumption, using products with post-consumer recycled content and serving food that is organic, local or fair trade. Additionally, sustainable meetings incorporate social aspects such as charitable donations and projects that give back to the community.

Why is it important to make my meeting green?

A small meeting may not seem important.  After all, what difference can a few cups and napkins make? But think about what happens when it is on a large scale. For example, during a typical five-day conference, 2,500 attendees will use 62,500 plates, 87,500 napkins, 75,000 cups or glasses and 90,000 cans or bottles. In addition, there are all the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from traveling to and from the conference, menu selections and waste from conference handouts.

Now, multiply this by the thousands and thousands of meetings produced each year and we start to understand just how staggering the environmental impact can be. So, it’s important to make changes whenever possible, because every meeting can make a difference by improving its environmental and social impact.

What can I do?

Learn more about sustainable meeting management through our resources including case studies and infographics. For more in-depth discovery, we have a collection of free sustainable event tools available. If you want to see how your event measures up, calculate your score with My Event Footprint.