Water, Water, Everywhere?

Glass of water with nature background

If you don’t consider the scarcity of water a huge issue for the citizens of this planet, you haven’t been paying attention. Water scarcity affects 2.7 billion people worldwide for at least a month a year and it is getting worse in nearly every city where events are held.

Are we in the hospitality industry paying attention?

These recent examples are cause for concern...

  • During a stay in a drought-stricken, water-restricted town in Texas, the ice bucket in my room was filled every night without request. It is one of their guest services. I tried desperately for the three nights of my stay to get this “service” to stop, but was not successful.
  • At a recent conference in California, the hotel caterer required all the water glasses were pre-filled. When the event coordinator pleaded to instead have just a pitcher of water and glasses on each table, she was told it was a “labor union policy.” It was not until this event coordinator elevated her request to the General Manager, citing the Drought Emergency Act, that the practice was discontinued “for this event only.”
  • Another hotel in a city facing water restrictions is clinging to the idea that all of their guests need their sheets changed (and washed) every single day without giving guests the chance to opt out of the program. During this same stay, the hotel presented me signed welcome card and an in-room gift of three plastic bottles of water from a South Pacific Island.

Can our industry be part of the solution and not part of the problem? 

As meeting professionals, both planners and suppliers, we have an enormous opportunity to make an impact just by making more responsible choices, to be aware of the consequences of our requests on the communities where our events are held. Most of these choices are the low-hanging fruit of water conservation and don’t require much effort.

Start today by:

  1. Not prefilling water glasses for a banquet.
  2. Requiring a linen reuse policy and low flow fixtures be in place at the hotel.
  3. Provide refill stations for personal water bottles during the event.
  4. Ordering chicken or vegetarian options instead of beef which have a lower water footprint.
  5. Ask your meeting venue about their water-saving policies and ensure they are being implemented.

As you are incorporating these policies, don't forget to educate your participants about what you are doing on their behalf. Increasingly, organizations and their events are being held accountable for being good corporate citizens. Show them you are good stewards of the Earth's resources.  

Posted by Nancy J. Zavada, CMP

Nancy is a leader, innovator and entrepreneur in the meeting planning and events industry, she is a principal with MeetGreen and is co-founder of the Green Meetings Industry Council (GMIC).

Follow Nancy on Twitter: @nancyjzavada
Visit MeetGreen's website: http://meetgreen.com/

Editors' Note: The views expressed by contributing bloggers are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Meetings Today or its parent company.

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