By Mary Campbell, Pinellas County Extension Director, Urban Sustainability
Planning a meeting or event can be challenging. Look for ways to show your commitment to a better way of doing business through “green practices”. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Rather than sending paper invitations, send E-mail and/or set up a website. If you must use paper invitations, print them on recycled content paper.
- Make a friendly announcement at the beginning of the program announcing all efforts to go Green and instructing attendees which items are recyclable and what bin each item should go in.
- Make all copies two sided or offer any information and materials to those that request it via E-mail, DVD, or jump drive.
- Provide recycling bins for paper, cans, and plastic in meeting rooms.
- Do not use Styrofoam.
- Provide wooden coffee stirrers and as apposed to plastic straw stirrers.
- Use reusable name tags and provide a place to return them at the end of the meeting.
- Offer beverages in containers that are reusable and serve water or other drinks in pitchers.
- Include vegetarian meals, and have meals planned using local, seasonal produce.
- Use china and linens to prevent waste; or use paper plates, napkins, cups, and utensils that are biodegradable or made from recycled material.
- Instead of a buffet, offer plated entrees; this reduces the amount of wasted food.
- Consider donating un-served food.
- Offer snacks in bulk and not individually wrapped.
- Serve food and snacks that require minimal serving containers.
- Instead of individual packages of condiments (sugar, ketchup, cream, mustard, etc.), use a refillable pump condiment dispenser or recyclable containers.
- Opt-out of offering straws.
- Coordinate with the meeting venue to ensure that energy for lights and air conditioning will be turned off when rooms are not in use.
- Purchase carbon offsets for attendees traveling to/from a conference or meeting (for example: carbonfund.org, terrapass.com).
US Environmental Protection Agency Green Meetings Initiative
EPA’s “Greening Your Meetings and Conferences” page
Green Meeting Industry Council
Bluegreen website for greening events and conferences