Tips for Greening Your Business Conference—Taken from the Schwab IMPACT Playbook
When it comes to planning for our annual IMPACT conference for independent investment advisors, Schwab’s events staff thinks green. Schwab’s biggest event draws thousands of attendees to the host city, and it is considered a top priority to make the conference as environmentally friendly as possible.
This year IMPACT 2011 takes place in Schwab’s hometown of San Francisco, a particularly fragile ecological environment bordering the San Francisco Bay. So, the events team is taking this opportunity to raise the bar on efforts to help reduce the footprint of the many attendees who will descend on the city in a few weeks.
“If a 5-day event serves 2,200 people breakfasts, lunches, conference break snacks and food at receptions using china instead of plastic disposables, 1,890 fewer pounds of plastic will be sent to the landfill,” says Elisa Novoa, senior event manager for Charles Schwab. “At the IMPACT conference we’re doing this and more to make sure that we’re being environmentally conscious.”
Here are some of Elisa and her team’s top tips for making conferences a greener experience for all.
- Choose the right conference center
Conferences may draw thousands of people, which means a lot of trash for the landfill. Consider looking for a venue that has modern collection and recycling facilities. Ideally, it should be able to recycle paper, plastic, glass, aluminum, cardboard and organic materials.
The venue should consider using cloth napkins, silverware and china in lieu of paper and plastic when possible. There should be an abundance of clearly marked recycling containers in meeting room areas.
- Enforce the Great Water Bottle Ban
Avoid offering conference attendees the normal preponderance of plastic waters bottles. Instead, offer each attendee a reuseable water bottle, which can double as a conference souvenir. Multiple water refilling stations can now be found throughout most conference halls.
- Address the Conference Giveaway Dilemma
Give attendees their choice of giveaways and offer the opportunity to donate the item to a local non-profit. If attendees actually choose their gift, they may be more likely to use it, and many may choose to go the donation route instead. This year Schwab offered registrants the choice of either a bag or a poncho, each made of 51% post consumer recyclable materials, as well as the option to donate the item. So far, about a quarter of those attending IMPACT have chosen to donate their giveaway.
- Measure Results—Literally!
Make sure that your efforts are working and set goals for your next conference. At the end of each IMPACT conference, the various categories of recyclables are actually weighed. Last year, 41% of all refuse generated at the conference was recycled. This year, the goal is to raise that number even higher.
- And Finally, Tips for Attendees
Attendees can also do their part to limit waste and recycle. For example, when checking into the hotel, opt out of the morning paper delivery to your room unless you really want it. Forego daily laundry service unless you need it.
At the conference center, dispose of waste in the proper bins, and turn in your name badge at the end of the conference for later use. Bring your own water bottle and refill as needed. Don’t pick up literature you are likely to toss once back in your room.
And finally, ask your conference hosting company what they are doing to make their conference green. Let them know that you care.
Do you have other ideas for making business conferences greener? Let us know by leaving a comment.
The information provided is for general informational purposes only.
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