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Green Meetings Save Money and Natural Resources

Both meeting attendees and the hospitality industry can contribute to greener meetings with thinking ahead for simpler solutions.

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The problem: Meeting waste!

The hospitality industry is second only to the construction industry in waste generated. According to data from the white paper, the average conference attendee, over the course of a three-day meeting, generates about 61 pounds of waste. However, over the same period at home, that person would average just 13 pounds of trash. Further, an attendee generates the amount of greenhouses gases in just three days at a meeting as he or she would by driving a car for a month at home.

The solution: Green Meetings!

Green meetings not only benefit the environment, they can help a meeting planner or hotel's budget. So says a new white paper developed by Meeting Strategies Worldwide, a Portland, Ore.–based meeting planning company.

The white paper, titled "The Economy and the Environment: One Solution for Two Meeting and Event Industry Issues", finds that what makes the best financial sense is often the environmentally friendly choice as well. The white paper outlines the advantages to green meetings, starting with cost savings.

Greening a meeting involves rethinking the meeting experience, and how information, accommodations and travel are accomplished.

  • Reducing handouts for a 1,300-person conference over two days can save $2,000, 488 pounds of wood, and 79 pounds of solid waste from the landfill.
  • Reducing daily shuttles by 11 buses for a five-day, 40,000-attendee conference can save $60,000 and about 486,000 pounds of carbon dioxide.
  • A 150-room hotel that has a towel and sheet reuse program can save 6,000 gallons of water and 40 gallons of detergent per month.
  • Reusing 45 percent of banners for a 40,000-attendee, five-day conference can save about $89,000 and divert 12,750 square feet of vinyl banner material from the landfill.
  • A 1,300-room hotel that switches to fluorescent lights in rooms and lobby areas can save $51,000 in energy costs per year.

Reducing exotic menus and giving attendees feasible raw and vegetarian choices can reduce costs as well as the transportation and greenhouse gases needed for meat production, transporting the food, and even kitchen costs.

The options for greening hospitality are growing rapidly as people ask for better options and professionals in the field experiment to find faster, easier, more common sense approaches to meeting management.

You can join the movement. Ask for greener solutions. Provide positive feedback for green service availability. And do you part! Recycle, reduce, and reuse the natural resources you consume at meetings.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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