With the ever-increasing demand to go green in every thinkable manner (really, a 1-square meter portable house?), the meetings and events industry is coming under more and more scrutiny for having a heavy carbon footprint.

In a recent Smart Meetings webinar co-hosted by Paul Salinger, VP of marketing for Oracle, and Shawna McKinley, directors of sustainability with MeetGreen, the question of whether meetings and events can ever reach the point of being sustainable came up multiple times.

While the goal of making the answer a definitive “yes” is something the industry is still striving for, there are plenty of ways to green it up and plan more eco-friendly meetings right now.

Shorten the Paper Trail

Reducing print collateral is one of the biggest and easiest ways to lighten an event’s eco-footprint. Putting schedules, maps and other information into a mobile app attendees can download to their phones cuts a tremendous amount of paper out of the equation. Services like Guidebook Builder can help with this for little or even no cost.

For material that absolutely must be printed, use two-sided printing to halve the amount of paper used.

Make Green Planning Choices

Thinking green from the get-go can have a huge impact on eco-friendly meetings. Choose a venue with a silver, gold or platinum LEED certification to know that many behind-the-scenes aspects of your event are handled in good green fashion—and supporting these environmentally conscious venues encourages other venues to do so.

When purchasing supplies, giving priority to products made from recycled materials can not only make you feel good about going green, but also reduce expenses.

Green Eggs & Ham

Food is another huge source of waste, especially with larger events. Selecting buffet-style menus keeps the amount of food used as efficient as possible, and donating all leftovers reduces the amount of waste to as close to zero as you can get—and helps local communities in the process.

Using silverware and ceramic or even china dishes instead of their disposable counterparts lends an air of class to your meeting, and deepens the shade of green in eco-friendly meetings. Plus, if you chose a LEED certified venue, the dishes should be washed with recycled water.

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