Venue owners and managers need to think about sustainable meeting practices and how to run greener venues as part of the event industry’s initiative to be waste-free by 2020.
Long gone are the days where you just throw away all your packaging, food waste & “stuff” into the nearest bin.
And while it sounds like a daunting and unachievable task to go completely ‘green’ here are a few tips & tricks venues can implement near and long-term.
1) Ditch The Paper
Think about all the processes venues need to go through on a day-to-day basis. Whether that’s with invoices, contracts, run sheets, menus or seating plans there are many opportunities to ditch the paper and go digital instead.
- Contracts & Invoices: Instead of sending paper invoices, use tools like DocuSign or PandaDoc which help you exchange contracts & proposals digitally.
- Seating Tables & Charts: Tools like Social Tables allow you to showcase your space digitally and plan your seating charts online instead of on paper.
- Invites & Badges: Don’t send out paper invites if you can use tools like Swoogo to create online registration forms and email invites. If you’re hosting a larger meeting or event within your venue, badges play a crucial role to facilitate networking. But instead of going with plastic badges and holders, why not try the sustainable alternative, e.g. badges made from corn-starch. They are fully disposable.
Going paperless means you’re embracing digital. And this, in return, sends a positive message to meeting and event planners looking to host meetings at your space. Going digital means you’re ditching paper. And ditching paper means you’re saving trees.
2) Choose Green Travel & Transport
It’s no secret that multi-day meetings held at the same hotels have a lower carbon footprint as attendees don’t need to travel & they can stay where they already are.
Encourage the meeting planner and the attendees to think green when making travel decisions. When promoting the best ways to reach the venue also think about the nearest walks or how to get to the venue by bike instead of promoting the low costs of taking an Uber.
You can even provide bike services to encourage attendees to roam around and explore the destination without causing additional pollution.
If you have to rely on other transport opt-in for public transportation whenever possible and encourage the attendees to do the same.
3) Recycle & Repurpose
It’s a no-brainer to ditch the paper napkins and plastic cups for cloth napkins and glasses that can be washed instead of thrown away.
But there is more you can do when it comes to recycling waste.
The more people inside your venue, the more rubbish. It’s key to provide visitors with easily accessible bins that are color-coded. Extra points for also labeling the bins clearly with descriptions of the type of items that can go in each bin.
4) Go Green With Your Food (Literally)
According to research by The Guardian, avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce the carbon footprint at events. So why not serve more vegetarian options or local produce that’s in season? This reduced transportation costs and therefore the fuel consumption.
Instead of serving bottled water, why not serve tap water (it often tastes just as good)?
Remember that clearly labeling the food with ingredients and where the food and drink come from encourages attendees to eat mindfully. Displaying information about allergies also simplifies the food choices for many people.
Don’t let food go to waste. Why not donate leftovers to charities such as the Robin Food Kollektief. Many organisations are set up to support those who are unable to afford tasty and nutritious meals.
5) Become Best Friends With The Green Meeting Industry Council
Event Industry Council’s Accepted Practices (APEX) and ASTM International along with Green Meeting Industry Council have released a set of standards for sustainability.
The venues adhering to those standards can get certified of being a green venue. Venue managers can share their knowledge with their peers encouraging the adoption of this practice.
Joining this initiative will give you valuable insights.
6) Embrace Open Ventilation & Fresh Air
To embrace the event idea of sustainability, avoiding the use of air conditioners and heavy electronic devices is a brilliant idea.
We all know what it’s like to be stuck at an event without air conditioning, but embracing the idea of open ventilation
The simplest solution is to ensure windows and doors are open as wide and as often as possible. This can encourage the air to circulate freely within the building.
And we all like to breathe in fresh air
7) Get Inspired By Other Sustainable Venues
Bank Sandler recently put together an article on the most sustainable meeting venues across the globe.
Whereas you don’t have to go all crazy and implement solar panels on your roof (which can be very expensive) you can get some inspiration or ideas on how to make your venue more sustainable.
Sustainable venues have become a priority on the event planner’s checklist and being sustainable enriches the experience for both attendees and meeting planners.
Undertaking eco-friendly initiatives and promoting them to your audience is key. This will not only increase the bottom line by attracting more meetings to your venue, but it will also spread a positive message in general.
Make sure you’re doing everything in your control to help to lower your venue’s carbon footprint, one plastic cup at a time.