© Christiaan Dirksen

Sustainable meetings

Make a difference by making your meetings and events sustainable. Simon Strandvik, who runs Greentime AB, a company focusing on green transformation and sustainable development for the meetings industry, has put together the following tips:

9 tips on what you can do to reduce the environmental impact of your event:

1. Track the trips
The most significant climate impact during an event is the participants' trips to and from the event. Here we can encourage visitors and functionaries to take trains or public transport. Before you confirm the time at which the event starts it may be a good idea to check out the train connections so that they overlap with event times.

2. Cooperate with local public transport
Make sure that you have a good working relationship with local public transport, so that participants can easily get to and from the event from the train station or travel centre.

3. Forget physical giveaways
Giveaways distributed during events are often a waste of resources. If you want to have a giveaway or gift, think carefully about what it should be and what benefit it actually gives to the participants or visitors, so that it doesn’t just end up in the trash.

4. Set environmental requirements when purchasing
As an organizer, you have the power to influence purchasing decisions. While purchasing eco-labelled products might add cost, it does have positive environmental impacts. In addition, the more people who purchase eco-labelled products today, the less the price difference will likely be in the future. Products that might be eco-labelled include soaps in portable toilets, participant lists, leaflets and other printed materials. Choosing eco-labelled products is a good, visible, communicative tool for raising environmental awareness.

5. Shop locally
Local business services contribute to a reduced environmental impact through reduced transport costs. Additionally, local partnerships often provide goodwill and local community benefits. Purchase products and services from local companies instead of saving a a bit of extra money on a larger, more well-known company. The impacts of major events are not easy to measure, but it is clear that major events often contribute increased income to a city or community.

6. Use an app instead of a leaflet
We live in a world where people look at their mobile phone more than 900 times a day. There are many good apps that can be used for meetings and help reduce the amount of printed material. To facilitate this, make sure you have a well-functioning Wifi and provide people with the ability to charge their phones.

7. Offer vegetarian food
We have to begin to reduce the amount of meat we eat if we want to support the world's population in the future. If we compare our meat consumption today to ten years ago, we eat a lot more meat per inhabitant now. Meat in excessive amounts is neither good for your body nor for the environment. Beef, in particular, has a major environmental impact. Removing meat completely can cause irritation for some  people, so promote vegetarian food as the most obvious choice while still giving people the option to eat meat.

8. Offer tap water
People drink lots of litres of water during a larger event, which often means a logistics problem when bottles become waste. There’s also a hygiene factor, but we have clean, good water in our taps. There are many events that arrange water taps and give visitors the opportunity to fill their bottles with tap water – a great way to communicate environmental issues.

9. Mark clearly with source sorting
Source sorting (separating recyclable items) at events is an important environmental effort and can save money for organizers, while also communicating the importance of environmental issues. You will never be able to recycle 100 percent of waste but you can make things easier by clearly marking recycling containers. Make sure signs are above head height to make them more visible in crowds.