How often do you think about environmental impact when you’re conferencing?
a/ Once. Then I forgot about it because I saw free samples.
b/ Never. What do you even mean by ” environmental impact”?
c/ Often. And I suspect the environmental impact isn’t good.
A, B or C, however you answered this question, by now you likely suspect that conferences, as much as we love them for all the networking and free food, have a hefty environmental price tag.
Trust that gut feeling because your suspicions are correct. Conferences are dirty. The little bit of data collection that is being done indicates that the environmental impact of conferences is big.
Think back to the last time you were conferencing…food waste? Check. Travel emissions? Check. Hotel energy use, water waste, garbage from swag, paper, lanyards (!). Check.
It all adds up.
For so many of us, going to a conference means stepping into an alternative universe where all our normal green habits and sustainable business practices get tossed out the window.
But does it have to be that way?
The Real Data on Conferencing
We’re just days away from Sustainable Brands Vancouver 2018, where major brands gather to talk about building the green economy. We’ve already talked about the serious impacts of conferencing. But did you know that Sustainable Brands is one of the only conference out there gathering data on the impact of its conferences? Wow, right?
We get pretty freaked out at Green Story HQ when there’s a big gap in data collection. It usually that a/ nobody has been tracking environmental impact in that particular area and b/ the impact is, as a result, often very high.
Sure it’s scary to get real numbers and see the real data on your environmental impact. But we have to know the scope of the problem before we can solve it, so here’s a big shout out to Sustainable Brands for not shying away from data!
Green Conferencing 101
Okay, so you’re going to #SBVan2018, or any other conference, and you’re thinking to yourself “how do I take my normal, run of the mill conference experience and green it?”
With big credit to Sustainable Brands, here is a round up of 10 things you can do (and they aren’t hard) to green your conferencing this year!
1. No more disposables. – Just no more. Get rid of as many single-use, disposables as you can. Pack that re-usable coffee cup, water bottle, straw, utensils and tiffin boxes. Yes, you’ll need a bag but you’re carrying that anyways.
2. Skip the paper. – You’re carrying a smart phone so just snap a picture. Politely decline all those flyers and pamphlets. They’re just garbage in-waiting.
3. Yes, re-using your sheets and towels helps. – Maybe you’ve seen all the signage in your hotel room asking you to re-use your sheets and towels. Maybe you ignore them. Don’t! Re-using saves water, energy and you can (often) earn points towards your next stay.
4. Bike share! – So many cities now offer a simple bike share program to get you around town. Emissions avoided, exercise gained and is there a better way to see a city than on a bike?
5. Sort your garbage. – If the conference venue offers recycling and compost, please use it! (And if they don’t…ask why).
6. Return your lanyard! – How many of those plastic name tag thingies do we need at home? None. Return it to conference organizers and let them re-use it next year.
7. Pack a little lighter. – Packing your bag just a little lighter will save emissions (and money). Download this super helpful Carry-on Only Packing List from Encircled to help you make that little suitcase work for you.
8. Take only what you can eat. – Those big conference buffets are tempting and it’s easy to overload your plate. Taking only what you can eat means avoiding the 60lbs of food waste that most conference goers generate. Just ask Terus, a whole company dedicated to combating food waste!
9. Turn off the lights. – Just like Mom said, TURN OFF THE LIGHTS WHEN YOU LEAVE THE ROOM. Don’t make us say it again.
10. Skip the swag. – All that swag from booths and vendors adds up to a lot of garbage as soon as the conference is over. In fact, most conference attendees generate 10lbs of paper waste alone. The solution? Don’t take fall prey to the swag! In fact, we’re not even bringing any to Sustainable Brands.