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Tips for planning a “green” meeting or event June 11th, 2015

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIncreased Waste in Event Hosting

If you are looking to green your office, it’s important to consider how your meetings and events (whether on-site or off-site) contribute to, or detract from, your goals.  Consider that participants in meetings and events can produce nearly four times the waste (US EPA, 2003) and use 10 times the water than they do at home (World Bank, 2000).  Millions of disposable plates, cups, napkins and serviceware get thrown in landfills every day.  Facilities operations, transportation and shipping produce many tons of CO2. You can see how these activities and their extraordinary consequences can undo your efforts to create a more sustainable workplace.

Getting Started with Green Events

You can make a big difference by taking three basic steps:

  1. Partner with sustainable sites and suppliers: That means choosing destinations, venues, hotels, caterers and events suppliers that have sustainable policies and practices related to energy, waste, water, air quality, purchasing, and social/community support in place.  Use to view qualified suppliers and create a short-list for further exploration!
  2. Reduce Your Impact:  Make small, smart adjustments to your event and encourage attendees and suppliers to support your efforts. Here are some easy places to start:
    1. Reduce waste by using less printed materials
    2. Use electronic communications before, during and after the event
    3. Eliminate bottled water – request pitchers and glassware instead
    4. Encourage reuse by collecting credentials, using mugs or glasses for beverages, printing signs that can be used again (or eliminating them altogether)
    5. Engage attendees by giving them opportunities to contribute
    6. Reduce transportation impacts by encouraging public transportation, biking and walking
    7. Reduce shipping impacts by purchasing locally, working with sustainable shippers and using less packaging.
    8. Up Your Game: Keep track of your efforts (measure them if possible), then look for ways to take sustainability a step further—and encourage your suppliers to stretch further with you. Can you increase recycling rates? Add food scrap composting? Donate unused food and materials to a worthy cause?  For more ideas, take a look at our Planner Assessment at

Advanced Practitionersshutterstock_71868922

The pathway to sustainable meetings and events has never more clearly marked.  With the release of the internationally recognized APEX-ASTM and ISO 20121 standards, along with an event specific GRI reporting framework, advanced practitioners have a credible roadmap for achieving industry best practices (read more about these under Standards and Certifications).  Individually and together, these tools provide a framework for developing a state-of-the-art sustainable meeting or event initiative. Reach for this level by:

  • Assessing your practices against the standard of your choice, or use our Planner Assessment ( to get a general idea how you compare to APEX-ASTM and related best practices.
  • Develop a policy and get management support
  • Share your goals with supplier partners
  • Set goals and outline a plan for reaching them
  • Document and celebrate results

To confirm your achievement and gain recognition for your efforts, you may wish to certify your event under APEX-ASTM or ISO2012.  Visit or contact to find out more about how we can help you develop your policy and plan, and even work with our Third-Party Partners to help achieve certification.

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Posted by in Sustainability Education