Tread Lightly: Shrinking Your Event’s Carbon Footprint
This article includes excerpts from the soon to be released guide from GMIC on Shrinking Your Event’s Carbon Footprint.
Meetings and events can be major sources of greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions can stem from transportation, energy use, food choices and materials. Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce emissions and shrink your event’s carbon footprint. Below are some easy tips to get you started:
- Choose venues with energy conservation practices, such as LEED-certified buildings
- Minimize the need for onsite transportation by booking accommodation and venues within walking distance of each other
- Select a destination with good air lift, access by trains, or close proximity to the majority of your attendees
- Book electric or alternative-fuel vehicles for attendee shuttles, or encourage the use of public transit where practical
- Choose lower carbon menu choices such vegetarian, chicken or fish and seasonal, local produce. If you are selecting beef or dairy items for menus, consider smaller portion sizes and have a food waste minimization plan
- Produce materials locally to reduce shipping needs
- Turn off audio visual equipment when not in use, and request energy efficient equipment
- Weather permitting, ask for vehicles such as shuttles and delivery trucks to be turned off when not in use
- Adjust room temperatures to reduce the need for heating or air conditioning
- Use technology, such as mobile apps, to reduce the need for printing and shipping
- Schedule local events at off-peak hours to reduce attendees driving in congested rush hour traffic
- Compost organic waste to avoid landfill-related greenhouse gas emissions
A few tips to help you lower your menu carbon footprint:
- Reduce the amount of meat and dairy served at your events. This could be as simple as reducing portion sizes, opting for one meatless meal per day, or participating in Meatless Monday.
- Choose local. This is especially important for items that would otherwise be air-freighted or transported in refrigerated vehicles. (Note that 83 percent of the average U.S. household's carbon footprint for food comes from growing and producing it, while transportation represents only 11 percent.) Each of these will have higher travel related carbon-emissions. Choosing local food is also good for the local economy, is usually fresher and helps to create a sense of place.
- Choose seasonal. Food grown in a field will typically have lower carbon emissions than those grown in heated greenhouses.
Mariela McIlwraith, CMP, CMM, MBA, Director, Sustainability, Green Meeting Industry Council
© Convention Industry Council, 2017