Conference and convention organisers already have plenty to think about without sustainability as well, but don’t worry; it’s not hard to make an event eco-friendly. How do we start making our meetings green? Here are a few tips.
1. Waste Prevention
- Choose an event site that has a recycling program and/or is willing to coordinate with you to meet your waste prevention goals.
- Avoid direct mail campaigns for marketing your event.
- Consider E- Newsletter, telemarketing, placing an ad in a newspaper, trade publications, organizational newsletters and the radio.
- Put up posters in locations your intended audience will likely frequent.
- Submit news releases to the chambers of commerce and other professional organizations that may be interested.
- Ask for condiments and beverages to be provided in non-disposable containers or packages.
- Coordinate with a local food bank to donate un-served meal portions – or compost organics.
- Request that meals are prepared with local, organic produce if possible.
- Find a vendor that will use reusable (durable) plates and silverware.
- Plan snacks that are not individually packaged and ask for items that can be purchased in bulk such as fruit, cheese, crackers, muffins, etc. Transportation & Lodging
- Select a site that is convenient for guests staying in a hotel to commute by bus or foot.
- Choose accommodation that has a recycling program for guests and/or practices waste reduction techniques (e.g. optional towel reuse, bulk dispensers for soaps and shampoo, newspapers on request, etc.).
- Provide shuttle service to and from the conference with several vans meeting people at strategic park-and-rides located throughout the state.
- Print conference material on chlorine-free, double-sided paper that is recyclable.
- Offer telephone or e-mail registration instead of a mail-back form.
- Ask speakers to use an overhead or slide projector to present material instead of using a flip-chart or hand-outs. Remind speakers when they are booked that many hand-outs end up in the waste stream.
- Make promotional banners and wall posters that are non-dated, so they can be reused in the future.
- Give yourself some “PR”. Announce your efforts to plan a green event and ask for cooperation from exhibitors to follow your lead.
- Ask exhibitors to minimize promotional gifts or hand-outs that are likely to end up in the garbage.
- Remind people to take only what they need and to utilize the recycling receptacles.
- Give participants a name badge encased in a reusable plastic holder. Remind people during registration to return these at the end of the conference. Designate a place for return collection and reuse the badge at future conferences.
- Have attendees request specific transcripts of which they would like a copy. Send it on disk or by e-mail.
- Determine the variety of recyclables that will be produced.
- Determine what types of materials can be recycled in order to plan what type of food service you want. For example, if you can have glass and/or aluminium pick-up, ask that all beverages be offered this way when bulk forms are not available (such as pitchers of orange juice or iced tea, etc.).
- Decide if an additional hauler needs to be contacted to recycle any materials the facility does not. If so, contact local haulers to determine who will best fit your needs for recycling and composting and the allowable levels of contamination for both.
- Ensure recycling bins will be well-marked and visible.
- Recycling bins should be placed in well-travelled areas such as a stage, restrooms, food stalls, entrances, exits and near refuse bins.
- Advertise the availability of recycling facilities at the event. An announcement could be made at a break in the event or advertised at the entrance.
- Once you have a plan for recycling, make appropriate signs with instructions for proper sorting, or ask if the hotel or conference hall has signs available.
- Recruit volunteers to educate persons at the recycling depots and other related activities (e.g. distribute information at the entrance, obtain sponsors, transfer recyclables from bins to collection points).
- Make sure vendors have recycling guidelines with up-to-date procedures.
- Select vendors that will serve items in recyclable containers and that use durable dishware and silverware, if possible.
- Ask exhibitors to provide their hand-out information on recycled and recyclable paper.
- Ask speakers to limit their use of hand-outs. (For example, ask that Power Point print-outs be printed with multiple “slides” on each page rather than just one, and suggest double-sided printing).
- Ask speakers and participants to avoid printing on “neon” or “astrobright” paper because it is not usually accepted by paper recycling programs.
- Since the majority of waste is paper, place recycling bins in all the meeting rooms, and make sure the bins are clearly marked.
- Consider requiring food vendors to use compostable silverware and food containers if you cannot use durable dishware.