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Across the country, companies large and small are putting “best practices” policies into place. One such resolution concerns measures that a company can take to mitigate the environmental footprint that their actions have on the planet as a whole and on their small corner of the world in particular. Also known as “green policies”, the targeted outcome is to prevent, reduce, or mitigate harmful effects on natural resources. But what does “green” actually mean? As the event manager charged with following said policy, how do you make sure that you are doing everything possible to be “clean and green”?
In the simplest terms, being “green” means creating an event that has as minimal impact on the environment as possible. While that may seem a formidable task, there are steps you can take to plan accordingly:
- Request for Proposals – make sure you let the venues you are considering know that you are looking to keep things green. Let them know upfront so they can present you with ideas for how they can help you accomplish this. Venues that balk at this should be eliminated right away.
- Selecting the right site – don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions about each venue’s green policies, and dig below the surface. One venue proudly and loudly espoused their recent change to low impact, energy efficient bulbs throughout their property. When I asked what they did with the tons of bulbs they pulled out, they couldn’t answer me. Which means the refuse likely ended up in a dump somewhere, completely mitigating what they were trying to accomplish. Arranging a site visit to see a venue’s claims in action can be beneficial. As an alternative, solicit the opinion of someone you trust who is familiar with the venue. Then you are practicing what you preach by avoiding an extraneous trip.
- Transportation – carbon off-setting is possible with certain airlines, and hybrid vehicles and eco-friendly limos can be used to get people from airports to the venue and around town. Check with your travel management company to see if they have programs already in place. Alternative fuel options for buses and shuttles can also be considered.
- Local food – see if the venue will bring in food from the neighborhood. This supports the local economy and reduces the impact on the environment by reducing how far food needs to be transported. It’s easier to transport the food, and has a much smaller footprint if it is brought across town rather than flown or trucked across the country.
- Recycling – verify that the venue has a recycling program, both back of the house and for guests. Ask them about their waste management policies to see what else they do to minimize their environmental impact. Linen/towel reuse options for guests should be mandatory in sleeping rooms.
- Other things to consider – does the venue use reusable china or glassware? Will they be willing to donate any unused food to a local charity? Are the decorations around the venue natural or reusable? When you have to set up poster and signs, is the printer eco-friendly?
There are a lot of questions and possibilities. However, a company, no matter how large, can reduce their impact on the environment by planning carefully, negotiating shrewdly, and by asking the right questions. Of course, if this all seems like too much, there are experts out there who can help, so never be afraid of asking for help.
Maureen Santoro is Manager, Group Operations for Atlas Travel Internationals Meetings + Incentives. She has 20 years of experience planning meetings for companies of all sizes.Subscribe to The Professional Assistant today.
Until next time,
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