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10 easy tips that will instantly green your next meeting

July 22, 2020

By Eva Haslauer, Mondial Congress & Events

Event apps and other digital solutions can help reduce printing

IMAGE: Mondial GmbH & Co. KG

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In the digital age, many may argue that face-to-face meetings are a thing of the past. However, especially in a digitally connected, globalised world, in-person meetings are of vital importance to get decisions made and drive progress in any discipline. International experts get together at congresses and conferences to discuss matters of universal impact, from disease control to political collaboration. While these meetings can be hard on the environment, there are steps you can take to ensure your meeting will leave a smaller ecological footprint, and the ideas created there will outweigh the cons of the travel and materials involved. That’s the core purpose of Green Meetings.

 

Vienna-based Professional Conference Organiser (PCO) Mondial Congress & Events became a licensee of the Austrian Eco Label in 2012 and was one of the first companies in the country to do so. This license means they can award an event with the coveted ‘Green Meeting’ seal of approval if certain conditions are met. Since then, they have helped dozens of clients, nationally and internationally, to reduce the environmental impact of their congresses, conferences, meetings and events.

 

 

At so-called hybrid meetings, some of the speakers and attendees participate digitally. This supports those who prefer to keep CO2 emissions low by choosing not to fly

IMAGE: Mondial GmbH & Co. KG

Even if you’re not seeking a license or certification, there are many things you can do to make your next meeting a little greener right now, be it a small meeting or international conference, with little or no hassle (or impact on your budget). Here are Mondial’s top 10 tips for ‘greening’ your meeting:

 

  1. Less is more
    These three words are at the core of sustainable thinking and can easily be applied to meetings. Do you really need all those printed brochures and that specially printed signage or could you replace them with digital solutions? Couldn’t you make your venue look just as nice with less decoration? Before you do anything, first consider whether it is really necessary.

  2. Re-use
    When you produce branded items, such as banners, roll-ups or bags, don’t include unique characteristics such as the date or event name. If you only use your logo, you can re-use materials at future events. This even goes for flower decoration: if you rent potted plants and trees, you can re-use them or return them to the florist.

  3. If you do print, print responsibly
    If you cannot go paperless, print on recycled or chlorine-free paper. Many printing houses have certificates to indicate their use of eco-friendly papers and inks.

 

 

Local, organic food is good for the environment as well as your guests

IMAGE: Mondial GmbH & Co. KG

4. Source food locally and socially responsible
Serve local, organic and seasonal food (which is often cheaper anyway) wherever possible. For instance, use local apple juice instead of imported orange juice and serve tap water if it is of good quality. Vegetarian options are easier on the environment. If you must use imported goods, such as coffee or cocoa products, make sure they have been produced and traded fairly and sustainably.

5. Avoid waste and recycle
Do not use PET bottles, cans and plastic cups. Serve your beverages in real glasses and china cups and use crockery and buffets to serve your food rather than offering packed lunchboxes. It will not only help avoid waste, but it will also look much nicer. If disposable materials are unavoidable, ensure they’re properly recycled.

6. Promote sustainable modes of travel
Encourage guests to arrive by train or other modes of public transport. Make sure you choose a venue that is easily accessible without a car and consider offering bicycle parking or rental. If flying cannot be avoided, inspire travellers to carbon-offset their flights or engage in a carbon-offsetting programme for your event yourself. Offer digital options such as webcasts for attendees or speakers who would rather avoid flying.




If the tap water in your country is safe to drink, consider it an alternative to bottled water

IMAGE: Mondial GmbH & Co. KG

7.  Choose sustainable accommodation
Favour hotels that have eco-certifications or established sustainability programmes, or those taking other proven steps to practise environmental responsibility.

8. Favour eco-friendly materials
Lanyards are quintessential conference items that are available in a wide range of materials, including recycled PET bottles or bamboo. The same principle can be applied to many other items. Research alternatives to plastic before ordering supplies.

9.  Donate leftovers
Wherever you live, we are sure there are several charities that will be more than happy to make good use of your leftovers, whether that’s the remains of a buffet surplus note pads or pens, or even banners you can’t reuse (did you know they can be turned into fashion accessories?). Do some research beforehand and have a plan in place for how you will dispose of excess items responsibly.

10. Exhibit your best behaviour
Exhibitions can be a real challenge when it comes to sustainability, but it’s not impossible to improve their ecological footprint. You can reduce artificial carpeting and work with the venue’s original exhibition floor. Communicate openly with exhibitors and encourage them to reduce printed materials, giveaways and unsustainable packaging. Have large recycling containers ready for discarded exhibition materials and packaging containers ready for discarded cargo.

 

Typical event items such as lanyards can be made from a variety of sustainable materials

IMAGE: Mondial GmbH & Co. KG

Green Meetings – a hard sell?

 

 

Greening your meeting is not only good for the planet, it is also increasingly good for business. A Green Meeting will provide you with plenty of positive messages for your communications and improve your image in your ecosystem as a responsible host and organiser. Here are just five of the benefits a green meeting can have for your business:

 

  1. Positive communication: “Do good and talk about it” is a commonly used marketing phrase--and why wouldn’t you? After all, you are doing your bit to protect the environment, which is quite the opposite of ‘green washing’. Talk about your sustainable initiatives on your website, in your newsletters and news articles, and on your social media channels—and mention them on signage at the meeting itself, getting the message across to attendees. This will lead to greater acceptance of the concept and make your next green meeting even easier to organise.

  2. Strengthen your image: The public (especially young people) have an increasingly heightened awareness of sustainability issues. By organising a green meeting, you’re showing people that you care about one of the most pressing topics of our age and making them feel that they are part of a ‘good’ meeting, rather than just a meeting. Getting the next generation of potential employees and customers on your side is vital for every organisation, be it a non-profit or a corporation.

  3. Improved F&B quality: Food is a topic that has been gaining in importance at meetings, regardless of environmental concerns. The special considerations that green meetings require of catering, such as investing in local, organic ingredients, automatically increases food quality. Plus, with alternative lifestyles such as vegetarianism and veganism on the rise, no event organiser can afford to ignore them. Green meetings automatically consider these lifestyles as they tend to be more eco-friendly by nature.

  4. Support local businesses: Investing in local produce and regional suppliers will strengthen the local economy, typically by supporting small- and medium-sized businesses. In this way, you can show that you are also benefitting the wider community in which your event is embedded.

  5. Support your organisational goals: Nowadays, most organisations have a dedicated CSR strategy. Whether your focus is on charity work, planting trees, community support or education, a green meeting will help you move your strategy forward, as it includes components of almost all elements that also appear in connection with Corporate Social Responsibility.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mondial Congress & Events team

IMAGE: Mondial GmbH & Co. KG

Frequent concerns clarified:

 

Will greening my meeting make it more expensive?

 

Not necessarily. Event budgets can be very complex and include many different items and concerns, some of which may be more or less important to your meeting’s goal. By prioritising items where sustainability is key and balancing them with lower priority items, it’s often possible to stay within your budget. For example, you may spend more money on catering for your green meeting, but also save money by producing fewer printed materials.

 

Do I have to do without printed flyers and programmes completely?

 

Not at all. Simply by choosing environmentally friendly papers and inks, you are reducing CO2 emissions significantly.

 

My green meeting includes an exhibition or trade fair; will I have to restrict the freedom of my exhibitors?

 

Exhibitors are important stakeholders in any exhibition or trade fair, as they often provide the financial backbone of a meeting. So even if you make your next meeting green, the restrictions for exhibitors will be minimal. The only major change is that exhibitors should take greater care to invest in sustainable marketing materials. For example, giveaways should be manufactured from high-quality, sustainable materials rather than plastic. While these measures may demand a certain degree of flexibility from some exhibitors, they do increase the overall quality of the attendee experience, which indirectly benefits your commercial partners as well.

 

I would like to get a green meeting certification for my meeting. How complicated is it?

 

If you would like to obtain a certification, working with certified suppliers is half the battle. That means you should work with eco-certified venues, catering companies, event agencies and hotels wherever possible. These companies will know all the ins and outs of green meetings and can take all the bureaucracy out of your hands. Mondial Congress & Events, for example, can certify your meeting with the Austrian Eco Label anywhere in Europe and handles procurement of certified suppliers, as well as communication, for your green meeting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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