Greening Your Event
There are many steps that can be taken to make your event "greener" with components that take into account the triple bottom line (social, economic and ecological) impacts. While it can be overwhelming, what's most important to understand is that you have to start somewhere; any step is a good step towards sustainability, no matter how small.
Green Event Planning Tips
Facility Selection Ask what sustainable practices the event facilities you are considering have in place. Build a green component into your RFP. Be sure to take a back-of-the-house tour! Watch out for "greenwashing" and only select a venue that is transparent where you have seen the green practices they preach in place. Check out what green practices the Center has in place on our Sustainability page.
Online Registration Eliminate paper registration. Only offer registration online with credit card or electronic check.
Electronic Marketing Advertise via the web and send email updates about the event. If you must print and direct mail, make it small, double-sided and reference the website for more information.
Catering Order Fresh, Local, Organic, Seasonal and Sustainable (FLOSS) foods. Eliminate single serving drinks from your menus and order beverages in bulk. Do not order boxed or bagged luncheons. Ensure that all catering service ware is china, silver or glass. Stick to the durables. Condiments should be served in bulk, use cloth napkins, have separate recycling bins available, all left over food should either composted or donated to a local food bank.
Healthy Transit Encourage mass transit by offering shuttles from the designated centralized hotel to the conference and organized events. Offer bus passes with Park & Ride information. Include bike map information on website to the conference. Set-up an on-line car pool connection for attendees traveling to the event from the same area. Look for a green alternative in your rental car options.
Transparency Take small steps and share what you are doing.
Talk About It In advertising for the event, mention your efforts to green the meeting. Before the meeting starts, and as necessary, make announcements about recycling, water stations, available shuttles, and other green steps. Build awareness to get everyone on board!
Reusable Name Badges and Signage Make signs for your meetings with future uses in mind. Can you name a yearly conference by its name less the year it's being held in and reuse it next year? If signage is necessary, purchase signage out of recycled materials which can also be recycled (or reused) again. Make badges out of recycled cardboard or reusable badges that your attendees use year after year.
Electronic Handouts Send handouts via e-mail ahead of time or provide them on a zip drive to your attendees. Project agendas on the screen. Have a pre-designated assistant take notes for the group documenting the questions, comments, answers, relevant references suggested and send them to the attendees after the meeting.
Double Sided Printing If necessary to provide handouts, use black font, printing double-sided on white recycled paper. Print just enough for the size group and recycle any leftover.
Time for Air During a breakout, before or after your event, offer a nature walk of an area nearby where attendees can connect with nature and one another in an atmosphere lending to the appreciation of the natural world.
Exhibitor Responsibility Build into the contract for all exhibitors that they must pack out unused materials/giveaways.
Recycled Content When purchasing promotional or award products purchase those that are made of 100% recycled content. There are great 100% recycled content shirts, bags, recycled glass awards, etc.
Offset your Carbon Measure your Carbon Footprint and off set it with Carbon Credits. A simple event Carbon calculator can be found at BEF. Planners can purchase Carbon Credits through BEF or Climate Trust - a couple carbon offset providers in Oregon.
Use Technology If a face to face meeting is not imperative for your event, offer the key sessions via video or teleconference. The Center has everything you might need to accomplish this.
Decorate Responsibly Rather than cut flowers incorporate native living plants as centerpieces. Provide edible centerpieces; making a tiered dessert display or whole seasonal fruit bowl the center of your event. Eliminate throwaways and introduce useful giveaways.
Social Element Consider building in a socially responsible activity into your event. Accept donations from participants of canned food, business suits, toys, or some other item aimed to help a group in need. Give a donation in the name of your group to a preservation group or other charitable cause. Add on an optional day before or after your main event for a Habitat for Humanity build or for volunteering at the local homeless shelter.
Think Outside the Event Provide attendees with a list of local food/wine options when dining out. It's easy to just fall back on the known chain if no recommendations are given by a reliable source such as yourself.
"Last year we had the pleasure of working with the Center for Meeting and Learning in to produce the annual fundraiser for our non profit group, Cascade Mycological Society. The Center helped us plan our annual fungal feast, a multi-course meal with music and speakers. The event was a huge success. Everything went smoothly and I always felt like the Center had our group's best interest in mind. The Center provides a vital local community service, offering a luxurious space and willing staff to help local groups promote their causes. I highly recommend checking out the Center for your group or organizational functions."
- J. Spivack
Board of Directors
Cascade Mycological Center