The colour green is often associated with plants and nature, which is why the term ‘green meetings’ is associated with sustainable procurement practices, writes Des Langkilde.
Likewise, the idiom ‘give the green light’ means “go”, so if you are working on a meeting or conference project and your boss gives you the ‘green light’, it means that he/she gives approval for the project to proceed.
With this in mind, here are 4 great ideas for green meetings and conferences that will ‘give the green light’ and make your peers ‘green with envy’:
1. Reduce paper
Business meetings and industry conferences use an enormous amount of paper in the form of writing pads, programmes, business cards and event sponsor brochures. Here are a few alternatives to replace these items with:
1a. Business Cards
Poken is a USB device that replaces printed business cards. Attendees simply touch their Poken devices together to transfer their contact details, and when back in the office simply plug the Poken into the computer USB port, log into the event portal (previously emailed by the event organiser) to see all the people he/she has connected with. Documents can be downloaded, and business cards synchronised to Outlook, SalesForce, etcetera.
1b. Note taking
If you have to supply pens and writing pads, make sure that they are environment-friendly. For example, Spier provides recycled pens and paper, which meeting organisers can then donate to Spier’s school programme after the event. Alternately, encourage attendees to make notes on their laptop, tablet or smartphone devices. Also upLoad speaker presentations onto your event website.
2. Avoid plastic
Stop supplying plastic water bottles to quench the thirst of your meeting attenddes. Many hotel conference venues do provide glass water bottles. For example, Spier not only provide glass bottles but also fill them with purified water sourced from the farms own filtration system. Spier also recycles 100% of its wastewater.
If possible, hand-write attendee names onto recycled board and if inserting them into plastic sleeve holders, make sure that these are collected after the meeting for reuse at the next event. Beaded lanyards are a good idea as these are usually hand crafted and support local communities. Spier uses Sue Heathcock Projects to source craft products.
3. Offset carbon emissions
Look for ways to reduce and neutralize the carbon emissions from attendees’ flights – by far the biggest polluter. Perhaps donate an indigenous tree for each attendee to plant, or donate solar panels to a local community. Try to minimise the need for road transport by choosing venues and hotels that are close together, and encourage delegates to ride-share and use public transport. Also choose transport suppliers who use emissions-reduction technologies and can certify that their service is carbon-neutral.
4. Choose a green venue
Select a venue that has the following measures in place:
• An automated electricity-savings programme to prevent waste by lights, air conditioning and escalators;
• A water-use minimisation system that incorporates things like drip-flow irrigation and dual-flush toilets;
• An in-house recycling system;
• A food re-distribution programme;
• Use biodegradable cleaning agents; and
• Have a policy to source local supplies that promote job creation and the sustainability of local farms and producers.
Spier Wine Farm in Stellenbosch, South Africa ticks all of these boxes and more.