How to Host a Green Event

Any gathering can be successful and sustainable.  Here are some tips on greening your event. Even if you can only implement a few of these ideas, your organization or business will make a difference.  A sustainable gathering conserves and restores resources, adds value to the local economy and educates participants about the benefits of sustainability.  Here are some ideas to help your organization or business get started. 

Some Helpful Tips

  • The greenest fit. Destination, accommodation and venue selection are important.  Make your greening goals known to all involved in planning and execution of the meeting.  Discuss criteria, outcomes and evaluation. 
  • Put it in writing.  Include sustainable practices clauses in your contracts with the venue, caterers and hotels you are recommending to meeting attendees.

Venue and Hotel Selection

Ask the meeting venue and hotels about their environmental practices, including their waste and resource management.  Try to find a venue or hotels that:

  • Have recycling programs established for all house areas.
  • Have clearly labeled recycling bins in place and recycle paper, plastics, glass and metals.
  • Have food rescue, food-to-animals or food composting programs collect all food scraps and leftovers.
  • Use reusable rather than disposable goods.
  • Have an energy efficiency program and use energy-efficient lighting (i.e. fluorescent lighting).
  • Minimize using harmful chemicals while cleaning.
  • Have bulk dispensers for shampoos and soaps in guest rooms.
  • Use post-consumer recycled content paper products.
  • Have water-conserving fixtures in place (low-flow shower heads and faucets, toilet flushing).
  • Offer guests the option to avoid unnecessary laundering of bed linens and towels.
  • Provide guests with paperless check-in and checkout.

Catering

Ask the catering company about their environmental practices. Ask your caterer to:

  • Use organic, seasonal, fresh and/or local foods and provide vegetarian options.
  • Offer fair trade, shade grown, and organic coffee.
  • Accurately count meeting attendees to avoid food waste.
  • Avoid using disposable dinnerware and individual packaged items, and use reusable dishware, cutlery, linens and tablecloths.
  • Use bulk dispensers for salt, sugar, pepper, creamer and other condiments.
  • Use minimal packaging that is recyclable and recycle materials accordingly.
  • Compost or recycle food waste, and arrange to donate un-served food to a local food rescue organization.
  • Choose reusable centerpieces and decorations.
  • During breaks, avoid the use of single-serving beverages, and encourage use of reusable mugs and water bottles.

Travel and transportation

Ways to make your travel and transportation as green as possible:

  • Connect to the airport by mass transit and/or offer group shuttle services.
  • Select a venue location within walking distance to green hotels and/or public transportation.
  • Use alternative fuel vehicles to get to and from the meeting and/or airport.
  • Provide electronic links and/or maps of public transportation near the venue to attendees in advance.
  • Provide bus or light rail tickets along with the registration packet.
  • Establish a Carbon-Neutral initiative to counteract the CO2 emissions from your meeting.
  • Minimize idling of vehicles in transit and during loading/unloading.

Communications and Marketing

Possible ways to make your planning and execution of the event as green as possible:

  • Use paperless technology (websites, online registration and advertising, etc).
  • If written materials are necessary, have them printed with vegetable based inks on post-consumer recycled paper. Print on both sides of the paper.
  • Avoid printing excess documents for the meeting.
  • Use erasable boards, or electronic gadgets to document meeting discussions, and then e-mail the results to attendees.
  • As speakers to minimize handouts; offer to post presentations on a web site.
  • Use recycled paper nametags or reusable name tags that participants return at the end of the event. 
  • Consider broadcasting the meeting over the Internet to minimize air travel.
  • Consider reusable or edible products as giveaways. Reusable mugs or water bottles are great, and can be used during the event.

At the Event

  • Use signage to clearly mark all recycling and composting containers and sustainable menu selection options.
  • Post signage for event attendees with energy and water conservation prompts.
  • Ask participants to recycle or turn-in reusable nametags at the end of the event. 
  • Post information about transit and alternative transportation options in a central place. 
  • Announce the green goals of the event to participants and ask for their assistance to meet them. 
  • Develop and report metrics such as water and energy savings, composting, and other sustainable objectives during the event and lessons learned.
  • Highlight any extra steps the event site has undertaken to become more sustainable.
  • Ask participants to evaluate the sustainability aspects with a questionnaire at the event or an email survey sent directly following the event.
  • Calculate and report results of sustainability initiatives at the event and post event outcomes on event website.