In this day and age, going green is becoming a necessity rather than an option. The importance of addressing and tackling environmental issues cannot be understated. Some of your attendees and stakeholders will expect or even demand it, those who are not environmentally conscious certainly will not mind it, and going green is cost effective in many ways.

Making your meetings environmentally friendly does not have to be overwhelming, even if you are entirely new to doing it. Here are a few tips to help make your meetings and events green in 2020 and beyond.

Go Paperless

While doing away with printed materials may sound daunting, the fact of the matter is, we live in a largely paperless world. Most of the business we conduct these days is online through email, websites, e-commerce and the like. It is perfectly reasonable to take your offsite events online, as well. In fact, it is quite critical in light of the following statistics:

  • Pulp and paper is the third largest industrial polluter to air, water, and land in both Canada and the United States, and releases well over 100 million kg of toxic pollution each year. 1
  • 59% of businesses going paperless achieved full ROI in less than 12 months; 84% achieved payback in less than 18 months.1

PRO TIP:  Set up a website dedicated to each meeting and house all pertinent information there. Accessing the information on their laptops or mobile devices will be easy and fast for attendees, exhibitors and speakers. Other materials you can go paperless with include registration, invitations and follow-up.  Mobile apps can also be powerful ways to provide interactivity, gain feedback and much more!

Create an Environmental Policy

People will see that you are serious about protecting the environment when you present a detailed environmental policy for your events. Lay out all of the measures you are committed to taking during meetings. Provide enough details to help them see that these green initiatives will enhance their experience rather than inconveniencing them in any way. Remember to house the policy online! Dedicating a page on your website to it is an easy solution.

PRO TIP:  Your environmental policy should cover topics such as sourcing products and vendor selection, reducing waste, recycling, venue selection, energy conservation, strategies to reduce carbon footprint, and even how noise or the event or meeting will impact the neighborhood/community.

Reduce Waste across the Board

Offering bountiful onsite recycling options is a no-brainer. After all, recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as it takes to burn it.2 Now, take this initiative and expand it to avoid waste during events on a global level. Examples include using real china for all food and beverages and inexpensive linen napkins.

PRO TIP:  When considering waste, consider all factors that influence “waste” rather than just refuse and trash.  For example, energy and water consumption, pollution, emissions from waste transportation, etc.

Insist on a Green Key Certificate

Venues and hotels that meet certain standards with their environmentally friendly practices and policies earn a Green Key certificate. When you use these sites for your events, you demonstrate your organization’s dedication to sustainability.

PRO TIP:  You can learn more about Green Key certification as well as Green Key sites and partners by visiting:

Go with Green Caterers

Choosing local is always a gesture of goodwill to the community. Take this decision a step further and work local caterers who use organic ingredients in the preparation of their food and institute sustainable standards in the operation of their business. Eliminate food waste by donating any leftovers to charity.

PRO TIP:  Be aware of what constitutes organically grown products.  While many products can be certified as organic, some growers use naturally occurring minerals as pesticides which can be as harmful as non-organic products.  Always verify that organically grown ingredients comply with standards set by the US government and are tested regularly for compliance.

Minimize the Impact of Local Travel

While many hotels offer a free shuttle to local places, including event venues, attendees may not be aware of this option. Rectifying this situation is simple: inform them in their registration packet and in several places on the event website. Additionally, you can arrange carpools from the hotel to the venue and any offsite events you host in the evenings. Speaking of vehicles, choose those with lower emissions such as electric or hybrid vehicles. Charging stations are springing up all over major cities across the country.

PRO TIP: Working with an outsourced meeting planner can provide some distinct advantages including coordinating group transportation. Depending on the location or destination, there may be options to get attendees to the venue that not only are more green friendly, but can provide unique cultural, scenic or other memorable experiences.

Taking a thoughtful approach to environmentally friendly practices when planning your meetings will go a long way in showing that your organization is responsible – not to mention cutting costs. Following the tips above will help you do it in the most seamless way possible.

For more information about how Gavel International can help your organization through outsourced meeting planning, event and travel incentive programs, contact us.




Eloisa Mendez