Any time hundreds or thousands of people gather in one place to share ideas and make connections, there's a big opportunity to make a big impact, and not always the kind we'd like: According to Nancy Wilson, co-founder of the Green Meeting Industry Council, over a 5-day meeting, 2,500 people can use as many as 62,500 plates, 87,500 napkins, 75,000 cups or glasses, and 90,000 cans orbottles. (source: http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Making-conventions-environmentally-friendly-3295444.php#ixzz26eagGDAa)
Luckily, there are steps meeting planners can take to ensure less impact on the earth. Here are five ways to green your next meeting:
- Use caterers who utilize local and organic ingredients in the menu offerings
- Choose venues in "walkable" areas so attendees can get around without relying on cars or buses.
- Reduce or eliminate paper waste by encouraging recycling and emailing materials (rather than relying on physical handouts.)
- Rethink "swag." Pens, notepads, mugs and other marketing materials and attendee gifts are often left behind and create significant waste, so use sparingly. Instead of a printed handout, consider creating an iPhone app or mobile-friendly, interactive website.
- Choose eco-friendly hotels and meeting venues. You can start your search at I Stay Green, or check the US Green Building Council to find out which venues in your chosen destination are LEED-certified.
Did you know that Grand Rapids leads the nation in the number of LEED-certified buildings per capita? Find out why else Grand Rapids has been called "America's Greenest City."