Are Green Meetings Really Having an Impact?

While I am always very conscientious about what I throw in the garbage and what I recycle, I sometimes wonder how much of our recycling actually gets recycled. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a very big proponent of green meetings. As a matter of fact green meetings and conferences are becoming a big focus for us here at Plan an Event.

So I did a little snooping around and found out that it really depends on us, the recyclers.

The good news is recycling is a for profit industry. And for our municipalities, the more they promote and teach us about recycling the more savings they see on waste management.

What I did find out is that the main reason certain recycling items get sent to landfills is because of the way that we, the recyclers, discard of our recycled materials. It really depends on the quality of the material as to whether or not it can be recycled or if it needs to be sent as trash. The one example that was easy for me to understand was the case of a pizza box. Now being paper I always assumed that it was completely recyclable. What I’ve come to find out is that many times pizza boxes cannot be recycled because of the organic material (dry cheese and oil stains for example) that often covers the boxes.

The David Suzuki Foundation is a Canadian foundation which states that their mission is to protect the diversity of nature and our quality-of-life. The foundation works with governments, individuals and businesses to conserve our environment by providing science-based research. On their website they provide a page which explains how we can recycle the various materials in our everyday lives. It really is worth checking this page out as they have very helpful information.

Hosting a Green Meeting or Conference Can Have an Immediate Effect

Now back to meeting and convention industry’s green efforts.

A few years back, the Convention Industry Council’s Green Meeting Task Force was tasked with determining whether or not green meetings really had an economical impact for meeting planners.

The good news, for meeting planners, is that there can be immediate savings when planning and executing a green meeting. For example:

convention industry councils green meeting task force

photo by

  • just by collecting name badges that can be reused for your next meeting could save a meeting of 1300 around $1000
  • using recycled materials for a five day meeting which serves 2200 people breakfast, coffee breaks, lunch and receptions would save around 2000 pounds of plastic from going to a landfill
  • not pre-filling water glasses for that same size of group saves about 520 gallons of water

There’s a lot of very good information from this task force’s report – you can read the full report here.

Resources to Help You Plan Your Next Green Meeting

The meetings and conventions industry is very fortunate to have numerous resources available on how to set up and implement green meetings. A couple of great resources are:

  • The Green Meeting Industry Council’s (GMIC) annual conference on sustainability is occurring in Chicago from April 7 to April 10. Their website provides easy-to-follow information on how to register as well as the agenda on who will be speaking etc.
  • The US’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a great page for green meetings. Tons of resources here.

So there are several good reasons meeting planning should include a green meeting checklist. An obvious reason is that meeting planners will see an economic benefit by going green. And if we are all a little bit more careful when recycling, and truth be told that includes me, we’ll end up keeping our recyclables out of landfills.

Recent Posts