Everywhere you look, people are making greener choices in both their personal and working lives. People are carefully separating their empty bottles from their old newspapers for recycling. Till workers at the supermarket are asking you over the din of beeping items if you’ve brought your own bags. And more and more, organisations are looking seriously at how they can reduce their environmental impact.

For both organisations and individuals, it just makes sense to buy only what you need. It just makes sense not to waste things. And it just makes sense to use things again when you can. These three tenets are the three R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle. In the last few decades, we’ve begun to see some of the devastating consequences of our unquenched consumption. It’s time for change.

How can you apply environmental ideas to your meetings and events? There’s no magic solution: it’s a case of challenging your habits and the habits of your organisation. Often you can make a real impact with a few small changes.

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Six Tips for Greener Meetings and Events

  • 1) Reduce Your Use

Of the 3 environmental R’s – reduce, reuse and recycle – “reduce” is easily the least sexy. But it’s also probably the most important. Whether your meeting is taking place in your own offices or a separate venue, even a quick look will probably reveal ways you can reduce your consumption without feeling deprived. How many handouts do you really need to print? Could you reduce the heat or the air conditioning? Are the lights still blazing away when no one’s in the room?

  • 2) Turn Down the Heat, Turn Up the Green

Just one degree makes a difference in the amount of electricity required to power a meeting. Ask facilities managers to turn down the heat (or the air conditioning) by a degree or two.

  • 3) Print Responsibly

When you do need to print handouts, flyers or brochures for your meeting or event, choose recycled paper. Recycled paper is now excellent quality, and substituting one tonne of recycled paper for virgin fibre will save five mature trees and nearly three cubic metres of landfill space. For external printing, choose a printing company that is approved by the FSC (the Forestry Stewardship Council).

  • 4) Think Global, Stay Local

Some meetings need to be done in person. Others can be just as effective and productive when conducted through videoconferencing. Advancements in technology mean you can feel like you are there without all the hassle and cost of travel. Check out Cisco’s TelePresence, where suites throughout the world are identical – creating the illusion that you are all in the same room.

  • 5) Location, Location, Location

When you do have to travel, consider how accessible your meeting location is via public transport. Cities like London benefit from an extensive train and bus system but can sometimes be bewildering for non locals. For larger events, why not include a pre-paid Oyster card and tube map with your delegate registration pack?

  • 6) Constructive Reduction

Reducing waste doesn’t have to mean skimping on quality. If you are planning a multi-day event, consider giving your delegates a reusable coffee mug for use throughout the meeting. Little things make a big difference: ask venue staff to serve water in jugs rather than in individual bottles; condiments served in bulk are less wasteful and less expensive than individually packaged sizes – both add up to a significant decrease in needless packaging.

We’d like to hear your ideas on how to improve the environmental profile of your meetings and events! From time to time we award a bag of native wildflower seeds for those ideas we like best, so email us with your ideas to win.