6 Bright Ideas for Greener Meetings

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Thanks to amazing new innovations in sustainable technology and processes, it’s now easier than ever to plan green meetings. When it comes to sustainability, a little goes a long way—a few simple changes can make a big difference in your event’s carbon footprint. Here are six green changes you can make for your next event:

1. Choose a Green Venue

Selecting an eco-friendly venue is one of the best ways planners can minimize the carbon footprint of their event. For your next event, consider a LEED-certified venue equipped with modern systems that conserve electricity and water, such as energy-efficient lighting and smart temperature controls. Planners should also ask about a hotel’s waste management processes, including recycling and composting policies.

2. Use ICAO’s Green Meetings Calculator

Having trouble selecting a sustainable destination? International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has created an app that makes it easy to discover which meeting locations will have the smallest impact on your carbon emissions. The calculator ranks the best destinations for you based on information such as the number of participants and the city of origin. ICAO Green Meetings Calculator is available for download from the Google Play store and Apple Apps store.

3. Select Locally Sourced Food and Beverage

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Food and beverage is one of the most important factors to consider when planning a sustainable meeting. It’s best to choose local and seasonal fruit, vegetables and meat whenever possible. Local foods have smaller carbon footprints and are often fresher and tastier, as well. These days, the farm-to-fork movement and growing popularity of craft beers and local wineries have made it much easier to find reasonably-priced local food and beverage options.

4. Donate Leftover Food

According to a National Resources Defense Council report, 40 percent of food in the United States goes uneaten, while one in six Americans is experiencing food insecurity. Instead of throwing leftovers in the trash, planners can donate uneaten food to local charities and soup kitchens. Many hotels and convention centers already have donation programs and partnerships in place, so this is one simple change that can make a huge impact.

5. Organize Sustainable Activities

Take some activities outdoors—not only will it boost event sustainability, your attendees will surely appreciate the change of pace. Cleaning up a local beach or planting trees can be a creative networking activity that doubles as an opportunity for attendees to give back to the community. City-wide scavenger hunts are a great team-building option to get people moving, working collaboratively and exploring their environment.

6. Use Sustainable Dinnerware and Packaging

Plastic forks, water bottles and Styrofoam containers are both wasteful and harmful to the environment, in part because they do not naturally decompose the way organic material does. When it comes to sustainability, reusable dinnerware is usually the best choice. But for lunch boxes and situations that require disposable forks and packaging, there are now many green options, including biodegradable or compostable dinnerware made from recycled materials.