January 2010

Going Green - West January 2010

Resolutions Do Make a Difference

by Nancy J. Wilson

While you may not change the world all at once, here’s a simple start

It is another year and a new decade—seems like a good time for some sustainable New Year’s resolutions. Use the momentum (when you are not dieting and exercising) to save money and the environment.

Here are a few resolutions to get you started. Repeat after me:

I resolve to…

  1. Set up a Green Team for my organization’s meetings and events. That is right; I don’t have to do it all alone and I won’t forget to include my favorite vendors.
  2. Learn about the new APEX Green Meeting Standards. It will be much easier to use the existing standards as my basis for determining what makes a meeting sustainable.
  3. Have recycling stations at every meeting and measure the amount of waste diverted from the landfill. I will let key stakeholders know what has been accomplished on their behalf.
  4. Order seafood only from sustainable fisheries for my events. No more farmed salmon for my guests.
  5. Include green clauses in all of my contracts with meeting venues, hotels, caterers and transportation companies.
  6. Finally go paperless.
  7. Hold virtual meetings when I don’t really need to travel to accomplish the same task.
  8. Look for ways to hold face-to-face meetings that will keep my participants healthier; e.g. serve fresh and local food, networking time outdoors or in nature, or scheduling time for exercise.
  9. Not serve any food on disposable serviceware.
  10. Join an organization such as the Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) or attend a conference to learn more about sustainable practices from colleagues.
  11. Choose a venue close to hotels, restaurants and entertainment so participants can walk instead of take shuttles.
  12. Ask caterers to serve beverages in bulk instead of individually packaged, such as water, juices and even soft drinks. I can serve iced tea and lemonade in pitchers for a refreshing and inexpensive afternoon break.
  13. Thank the housekeeper for not replacing my towels and sheets every day when I travel.
  14. Mentor someone just starting out in green meetings.
  15. Donate all the leftover food to a food bank because I know the Bill Emerson Act ensures I am not liable. But first, I will make sure my guarantees are accurate to save food and money.
  16. Ask all my vendors for their environmental policies and see what I can leverage during the planning process.
  17. Look for destinations that already have green vendors and venues in place to make my job easier.
  18. Not print the date on my signage so it can be reused for the next event.
  19. Always ask for fair-trade coffee.
  20. Keep track of the financial savings for all of the green practices and become a hero in my boss’ eyes.

There you go. Pick just one or five or 15 for 2010! They are much easier to accomplish than that resolution you made to give up chocolate!


—Nancy J. Wilson, CMP, is a leader, innovator and entrepreneur in the meeting planning and events industry. She began her career in the industry in 1978 and is now a principal with MeetGreen, a Portland, Ore.-based conference management and consulting firm that she founded and which specializes in green meetings. Wilson served on the Live Earth Global Green Team and is cofounder of the Green Meeting Industry Council, currently serving on the Board’s Executive Committee. Wilson is also the coauthor of Simple Steps to Green Meetings and Events. Her blog, "Pretentious Musings of a MeetGreen Martyr," shares resources, tips, ideas and funny stories about the life of a green meeting planner, and can be accessed at http://blog.meetgreen.com. To enquire about purchasing a checklist and other tools for planning a green meeting, contact MeetGreen at info@meetgreen.com.