Is Wellness Now a Factor in GREEN Meetings?

When looking to update our information on green meetings (because it had been 2015 since we’ve really taken a dive into this), I ran across something fresh that I wanted to share. It’s the addition of “wellness” as a focus. Paul Salinger, VP of Marketing at Oracle (which takes a rigorous approach to greening its events) is quoted as saying, “Wellness is a strong piece, this whole idea of attendee health and well-being, and it could be anything from really strong food and beverage menus that focus on low sugar and serving healthy brain food kind of meals, to getting people out and walking more, and giving them more breaks, giving them more options of getting out in the fresh air.”

When I saw this I was excited and heartened. 🙂  It’ll be interesting to see how this focus evolves in the next few years.

In addition, I found a recent study, Green Meeting Industry Council’s Sustainable Meeting & Event Practices: The State of the Industry, which brought to light what is being done most commonly in green meetings.

Here are the top 10 areas meeting planners are currently looking to move toward green:

  1. Sorting recyclables
  2. Donating leftover food to charitable organizations
  3. Diverting food waste from the waste stream
  4. Participating in linen and towel reuse programs
  5. Using water glasses (or refillable water bottles) & filling stations in lieu of bottled water
  6. Offering vegetarian and allergen-friendly menus
  7. Sourcing local foods
  8. Using event apps to reduce the use of paper
  9. Requesting energy-efficient lighting
  10. Planning give-back programs for the local community

And here are some additional ideas we’ve gathered which may be useful:

  • Minimize air travel by hosting events in a central location.
  • Select a hotel with green policies. Increasingly, hotels are staffing Sustainability Managers to assist and suggest options to meeting planners.
  • Choose hotels and meeting venues that are connected to the airport by mass transit and within walking distance of each other.
  • Host all multi-session meetings at a central location to limit transportation needs.
  • Make it easy for attendees to travel between the airport and the hotel/meeting venue by providing information about the local public transit system, or arrange for carpooling shuttles.
  • Minimize paperwith web based invites, online event registration, an agenda app and electronic follow-up.
  • When paper is necessary, utilize double-sided printing for all collateral and meeting related materials.
  • Reuse signage (and name badges) where possible.
  • Give recycled materialsprecedence when making meeting supply purchases.
  • Decrease the usage of paper and plasticby using real china for all food and beverages.
  • Ensure that your venue or caterer has a plan for composting or donating leftovers. (Food and beverage is a significant source of waste at events. Because it’s such a faux pas to run out of food, the typical reaction is to order it in abundance.)
  • Inquire about local and seasonal menu
  • Choose a venue with an in-house recycling programand encourage recycling.

And finally, involve your attendees in your sustainability goals! Leading up to the meeting, ask your franchisees for their ideas of how to make your meeting more sustainable, communicate your plans and choices, and encourage them to do their part wherever possible.

During the event, whether reusing a hotel towel, refilling a water bottle or utilizing public transportation, make sure they feel part of your team and the larger community by creating an event that is greener than last year!

More soon…


P.S. One interesting topics raised in the GMIC’s Survey on Sustainable Meetings dealt with the tension between event planners and their suppliers. In the study, both of them expressed concerns over who pays for the additional expense of some sustainability practices, and who benefits from the savings of others? The study authors concluded, “This suggests both parties can work on quantifying and communicating the financial as well as the non-financial benefits of sustainable practices to the company, the environment and to society.”

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