It’s all in the details

Sustainability has been top of mind for the events industry, and as we work toward a future of green meetings all around, it’s more important than ever to be aware of just how many different aspects of a meeting play a part. Discover how wide-reaching a meeting’s carbon footprint really is, and some actionable steps for reducing it.

Vegetarian-forward Menus

hands holding vegetables

According to the National Institutes of Health, animal-based foods produce twice as much greenhouse gas emissions as those that are plant-based. The latter can be as filling, delicious and nutritious as meat-based meals when the culinary team creatively uses plant-based proteins to round out the nutrition and provide a satisfying variety of flavor and texture.

Read More: Ravish: Veganlicious

By offering a menu that prioritizes plant-based plates and investing in a strong culinary team, you can reduce your meeting’s carbon footprint enormously.

Skip the Carpet

hardwood floor

One of the hidden culprits of a high carbon footprint in a meeting is right under your nose—or, more accurately, feet. Due to all the materials and processes involved in manufacturing, shipping, installation and disposal of carpet, it brings with it a surprisingly high carbon footprint.

Rather than lay carpet for your event, embrace hardwood, bamboo or other more eco-friendly floors; or make sure the carpet you choose is made from natural, renewable fibers—and donate rather than dispose of it when you’re done.

Recycle with Intention

people carrying brown boxes full of bags

Ninety-five percent of plastics are not recycled, whether the plastic material is labeled recyclable or not. Different types of plastic, differentiated by seven codes numbered 1-7, vary in their levels of recyclability. (Learn more on the U.S. Department of Energy’s website.) Further, different municipalities have different rules for what materials can be recycled. When a material cannot be recycled, it’ll simply be added to landfill.

Read More: Sustainability Tools for Easier Green Planning

Before a meeting or event, look up the recycling rules for that municipality, and pay attention to which materials can actually be recycled there. Do your best to switch out those that can’t for a reusable or compostable alternative. And make sure all material for recycling is sorted correctly.

Communicate, Communicate

person holding microphone

How will your attendees react to a missing carpet, more vegetarian than meat options or a lack of plastic water bottles?

Pre-event, brief your attendees on why they might, for instance, not have carpet in the meeting room and explain how that reduces the meeting’s carbon footprint—and theirs, by extension.

Attendees, far and wide, want to know that the meetings they attend are sustainable. Most will be happy to accept changes they know make a positive impact and that they can be prepared for ahead of time; and you might even inspire them to invest more deeply in more sustainable lifestyles.

This article appears in the May/June 2024 issues. You can subscribe to the magazine here.