Green is still an option in meeting planning; we are offered “green meeting” and “eco-friendly” meeting packaging from the sites we consider. But really, it is time for us to make “green” the norm. Even so, the green and eco-friendly options do not always speak to the actual green-ness of our meeting. Whether it be from our side of the meeting planning or the site’s side, there are some items that both sides need to think about and be made aware of.
Following are some tips to help our industry move even closer to green:
Pretty, glossy brochures full of meeting layouts and information are quite nice; but they end up as trash as soon as the meeting has concluded. Instead, invest in reusable USB drives loaded with your meeting information. Of course, this could be offered as a sponsored item from one of your meeting partners. As well, you could create an easy online website, one that is smart phone friendly, with all your meeting details.
How many bags can one person realistically use in a lifetime? Your attendees will have no need for bags if you and all those involved forgo the following items – print material and take home tchotchkes. Here is a challenge for your meeting – go “bagless.”
Just like the huge collection of bags we have all amassed, we also have enough stress balls and mouse pads to fill more than a few landfills. Actually, most of them are probably in the landfills right now. Instead, think edible; you can have your company logo or message printed on chocolate or cookies. Consider offering mini chair massages at your booth. Also, knowledge based information has a value that can extend way beyond the meeting. Provide attendees with a free ebook, chock full of information that they can use. Print the web site address or a QR Code on your eco-friendly business cards so attendees may later download it for their use.
Rather than printing up scrolls upon scrolls of name badges, how about just providing each participant with a re-usable plastic sleeve (of course, they return the sleeve to you after the meeting), then leave the “name badge” part up to them. All they need do is put their business card in the sleeve and they are good to go. Remind them to please remove and keep their business card after the meeting, rather than leave it to you to throw away.
Business Card Collecting
This simply needs to become passé. It is still standard practice to collect business cards only to return with a stack that needs to be entered in a database, then later thrown away. This is a lot of work. Make it easier by using a business card scanner or downloading one of the dozens of business card scanner apps available for smart phones. If you go the smart phone route, do your homework and play around with the app ahead of time. All are not created equal and most need direct lighting in order to properly capture the card information.
Wasteful Food Related Items
This is much easier than you may realize. Use real plates, utensils and napkins, rather than throw away items. Stop providing bottled water and have table stations set up with pitchers of water and glasses. Provide salt, pepper and sugar in shakers or dispensers, rather than disposable packets. Easy.
Meeting planners are creative and forward thinking by nature. It is my hope that this article spurs you on to think about other ways that you and your team can green-up your meetings and make eco-friendly gatherings the new norm. If you have any ideas you would like to share, please comment below!