Eco-Friendly Events

"Greening" your business meetings may be easier than you think

Want your business to do its part in helping the environment? Making your business green is a viable option and one that might be easier than you think. Changing the way that you run your business meetings and conferences is a simple solution to decreasing your company’s impact on the environment.

“Budgeting is very important for business, especially a small business, and there are ways to do this without throwing your budget out of whack,” says Sarah Galbraith, a certified meeting professional with Jensar Associates Inc., a management and communications firm in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Bianca Alexander, the executive producer and host of Conscious Living TV (www.consciouslivingtv.com) an online program that promotes eco-friendly living, has had a hand in planning several green conferences and has also taken on the challenge of “greening” her upcoming college reunion.

Alexander and Galbraith offer their tips to help make your next meeting eco-friendly:

1. Recycle and keep paper use to a minimum. If you don’t already have a recycling program in place, it’s an easy way to do your part for the environment. Be sure to recycle all office papers and purchase products such as cups, napkins, plates, and office paper that are all made from recycled paper. “There is this idea that recycled paper looks brown and dingy,” says Galbraith, “but in actuality the paper is beautiful, comes in various colors, and is still professional enough for a business to use.”

Also, only use paper when necessary. Galbriath suggest using online notes or agendas or double-sided printing when paper is absolutely necessary.

2. Plan the menu carefully. Food can be an important element of any successful meeting. Make sure you order appropriately to minimize waste. Also consider using the office water cooler, rather than providing bottled water. Galbraith also points out that businesses should use fair trade goods when purchasing coffee, an office staple. Fair trade products are goods that adhere to certain social and environmental practices, such as fair wages and organic farming. Look for the fair trade symbol when shopping for products.

You can find out more about Fair Trade Certified products on the Website of TransFair USA, the only third-party certifier of fair trade products in the U.S., www.transfairusa.org..

3. Use green accommodations. For out-of-town meeting participants, try using a green hotel. “A green hotel adopts eco-friendly measures such as recycling, [energy] efficient light bulbs, [low-flow] showers and faucets, and environmentally safe cleaning products,” says Alexander. The same criteria can be used for off-site meeting locations. Major hotel chains such as Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts and Hyatt Hotels are taking measures to make their hotels green. The popular online travel site Orbitz allows visitors to search for eco-friendly hotels at www.eco.orbitz.com.

4. Arrange for green transportation. “Given that travel is one of the largest contributors to global warming, arranging group transportation for the meeting is very helpful,” says Alexander. When appropriate, encourage participants to carpool as well.

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