Dispelling 3 Green Meeting Myths

The buzz word lately has been green as in going green.   Going green is the practice of reducing consumption to reduce our carbon footprints.  But is it reasonable to believe that companies and organizations can go green without breaking their meeting, conference, or convention budgets?

I’m concerned that going green will eat up too much time as we organize this event.

Chances are that when organizers make initial enquiries with suppliers, those suppliers already have a green option available.  In other words, the green option is an option which means the organizers don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to pulling a meeting, conference, or convention together.  All it takes is to ask if the supplier has a green option available.

Printers can print materials on recycled paper, using both sides and not just one side.   They can set-up recycling bins instead of garbage cans.  Hotels are more than willing to accommodate — and they actually welcome — reasonable requests.  Caterers know where to get the best local produce, fruits, and meats at the best price.  Don’t be afraid to ask them to buy local.  There isn’t a supplier around who won’t be willing to present organizers with a green option when asked thereby taking any extra work for the organizers off the table.

So go ahead — ask.  Suppliers are waiting to hear the question.

I’m concerned that going green will cost my company considerably more money than if we chose a more traditional route.

Since going green means minimizing consumption of available resources and adhering to the concept of reduce-reuse-recycle (thereby reducing waste), the fact of the matter is that less consumption should translate into fewer expenses.

Whether it’s signage from a previous meeting, conference, or convention that’s repurposed, more digital format information provided to supplement hand-outs printed on recycled paper, or returning to more traditional aspects of conducting meetings at gatherings (ie. water pitchers and glasses instead of bottled water, electrical outlets instead of batteries), reducing consumption is what going green is all about.

When planning a meeting, conference, or convention, consider the cost of using facilities that are within easy walking distance for attendees.  Better yet, choose one central location where you can hold multiple sessions so there’s no need for any transportation costs to be incurred and none of the attendees have to walk more than a couple hundred feet to their next session.  This reduces the need for transportation considerations and not only reduces the organizers’ costs, but reduces the negative impact emissions have on the environment.

And who wouldn’t prefer natural light streaming into the exhibitors’ area, requiring less artificial lighting?  Less artificial lighting means less electricity is needed by exhibitors which translates into a positive impact on the environment.

Going green isn’t as expensive as you might think.  In fact, going green is what most attendees are leaning towards and prefer.  Going green could even increase the number of attendees interested in attending your meeting, conference, or convention.

I’m concerned that going green will impact negatively on the quality of the meeting.

Ask yourself a few questions about green meetings.  Will attendees notice you’re reusing signage and table numbers?  Will they take note that materials are printed on recycled paper?  Will the presence of recycling bins upset them?

Chances are they won’t notice any of these things, and if they do, it’s only because they’ve instituted similar standards in their own offices and homes.

Will they object to meals that use local produce, fruit, and meat instead of imported produce, fruit, and meat?

Most attendees who keep a close eye on their diets usually are more concerned with health conditions, not whether the local economy is being supported.  That being said, the local economy will be aware and appreciative of an organization that chooses local produce, fruit, and meat for meals at their meetings, conferences, and conventions.

Will attendees be annoyed that hand-outs and presentations are supplemented by digital format resources?

This generation is the most digitally connected generation ever.  They may not be the digital native generation but they are that generation’s predecessor.  Digital format and social media platforms are what come naturally to millennials and as more and more of them become a vital part of the business world, it’s important to provide information in a format that best suits their business styles.

Webinars are easy to provide attendees online after the event, and filming seminars and meetings are inexpensive and can be pulled together with various technologies.  Online media kits are also a great way to reduce the negative impact on the environment by eliminating the need for the hard copy alternative.

While you’re at it, consider web-based invitations, email follow-up, online event registration, and website or social media platform updates instead of traditional hard copy communication.

Final Note

Trust that when you organize a green meeting, conference, or convention, attendees will be impressed.  They may not realize that what you’ve pulled together is a green meeting.  Many will appreciate that your event has bought into technology, making their event experience comfortable and familiar.  And when an event experience is comfortable and familiar, it also becomes memorable for the attendees!

Elyse Bruce

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