Tips for Environmentally Conscious Meetings

By Mitzi Forrester

Practicing environmental consciousness is a 21st century must! Much of society is constantly looking for ways to be more thoughtful and learn how we can do our part to care for the environment. It’s logical then that this effort spills into the meeting and events realm. The sustainable and green meetings trend continues to grow, and it’s time for event professionals to grow with it!

What does an environmentally conscious meeting even mean? It means being a responsible planner by avoiding the depletion of natural resources and helping keep our environment in a healthy ecological balance intended to be sustainable and thus, green. There are many ways to do this, which are among or soon to become industry trends. 

Think about how an event impacts the environment and take positive, meaningful steps.

Before we discuss these trends, let’s start by doing what all planners do: ask some qualification questions!

What are the goals of this event?

What are the environmentally conscious or green and sustainable goals your company has set forth?

Do you plan to integrate these goals within your event?

Now, let’s start planning your green meeting or event. What should we do first?

A wood-texture recycle icon on a foliage wall is a neat way to mark a recycle station.

Don’t Kill Trees

Instead of mailing out invites, create an event page, app or email subscription for attendees. Not only do these options help minimize your footprint, they allow communication with  attendees and staff in real time. Suddenly, a last-minute change to an event won’t seem so daunting because you can easily distribute the new information immediately to attendees. You also will save money in the long run because you will never need to reprint thousands of programs when you add a speaker or make a schedule change. 

You have a website and an email list and are set up on social media platforms. Use them! Having your information readily available on your site, blog or social channels makes it easier for attendees to locate information. It also allows them to share updates and event information and connect with others, resulting in increased engagement. 

Utilize Your Inner Techie

Create an online registration site.

Add to your app using promotional spots including videos, graphics and even a community space for thoughts, comments and questions.

Embed a live stream to your social media and connect people who may not be able to attend.

Show backstage footage of your employees or give an inside look at your event production through the live stream.

Create interactive feeds using unique hashtags and links to drive communication about your event.

Utilize social media channels to share information such as schedules and maps.

Keep It Simple and Fun

For many planners, getting guests to and from the airport, hotel and event venues is a major part of any planning process. The focus should be on discouraging single car use and instead hire dedicated coaches. Or utilize electric taxi’s, bicycles or scooters to get from place to place.

Host an “energy playground” complete with “energy seesaws” so attendees can power their own energy sources, such as phone-charging stations.

Provide reusable, 100% stainless steel water bottles and straws. 

Utilize biodegradable utensils. 

Don’t print menus, showcase them digitally instead.

Stainless steel bottle, cup and straws. Photo by Beth Buehler.

Stop The Waste

Events are notorious for wasting food. Stop throwing food out! If you do end up with lots of leftover food, consider donating it to those in need. It has become considerably easier to do this, so take advantage of local programs. 

Also, donate those floral centerpieces after an event. Better yet, incorporate CSR (corporate social responsibility) into your décor, such as school supplies or personal care packages for our troops overseas. 

How can materials be reused or avoided all together? Team-building anyone?

Enhance Design and Production

Using renewable energy sources with efficient system design and the latest in technology can help cut power usage and minimize your event footprint. With advancements in technology and continuous growth in digital capabilities, there are many ways to save on power for a more sustainable and green meeting or event. Options as simple as switching to LED lighting and lower power efficiency systems go a long way toward environmental consciousness. This is not only a great way to go green but can save you money! 

Mitzi Forrester brings more than 25 years of experience in hospitality sales to her role as RMC’s director of business development and is based in Vail, Colorado. RMC is a destination management company headquartered in Colorado and with offices around the country and in Mexico.

Photos are courtesy of RMC unless otherwise indicated.