Why is it so crucial for conference organizers to work towards making conferences more environmentally friendly? Conferences can be a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. Business travel, electricity, air conditioning, meals, and even paper are a few ways that events can contribute to climate change. However, there are many ways that conference organizers can help reduce the carbon footprint of hosting an event. Plus, “going green” isn’t always more expensive, and it is something attendees want! In our recent survey, 3 out of 5 people prefer attending conferences hosted sustainably, with over a quarter (27%) strongly preferring. As you can see, there are numerous ways to decrease your carbon footprint on the planet!
From choosing a venue that demonstrates a commitment to sustainability to providing attendees with eco-friendly products such as reusable water bottles instead of plastic ones, we’ll help you incorporate more sustainable practices into your conference event planning.
Finding eco-friendly alternatives doesn’t necessarily mean you have to spend more. For example, water dispensing systems, reusable products, and less paper product purchases are just a few of the recommendations from this Entrepreneur article. Even switching to a cloud-based option can cut the purchase of copy paper by at least half over the course of a year. To decrease costs even more, you can incorporate management software and digital invitations to onsite technology like mobile apps and digital signage. TEDxMileHigh saved over $7,000 on printing for the first of its events with an app. By leveraging the app, TEDxMileHigh reduced printing maps, session brochures, signage, and more.
An easy first step in decreasing your carbon footprint is to go with a venue that actively uses sustainable practices. If the organizer is searching for a city to host, consider cities that are ranked as America’s greenest cities. Make sure to keep distance and transportation in mind. How many hotel rooms are located within walking distance (less than 1 mile) of the convention center? Another green option includes public transportation like a high-speed rail. Find hotel properties within 2 miles of the convention center that hold a third-party sustainability certification. Some examples of these certificates are LEED, APEX/ASTM, Green Key, or Green Leaders. This way, your attendees will feel confident participating in an event that practices sustainability.
Another great way to incorporate sustainability in your conference is by adding eco-friendly dining options. Does the kitchen compost organics? Do they recycle kitchen grease? Popular and eco-friendly, serve as many vegetarian and vegan options as possible. Include menu and snack choices with minimal packaging or, even better, recyclable containers. Compostable dishware and/or locally sourced menus matter to more than half (54%) of survey respondents. All of these options can ultimately lower your carbon footprint and make for an eco-friendly convention all around.
Provide an app exclusively for the conference instead of printouts
Donate leftover conference materials to local nonprofits
Provide recycling and compost bins throughout
Reduce water by giving out reusable water bottles
Collect badges from attendees to reuse for future events
Donate leftover food to charity
If swag and promotional products are provided, consider sustainable options, and encourage vendors to do so, as well.
Avoid using products that cannot be recycled or repurposed to make new items in the future. Instead, go with products that are recycled, recyclable, or organic. This way, you are reducing your carbon footprint and encouraging your attendees to do so as well. In a recent survey, we asked what items participants are most interested in receiving within a swag bag or a vendor. Here are the top 5 most wanted promotional swag items and some eco-friendly alternatives to those!