Green Meetings: 5 Tips for Greening Your Supply Chain

green meetings tips
Green meetings require a supply chain that’s committed to sustainability.

A key to success when it comes to green meetings is to elicit the buy-in of your vendors. Sustainability is a collaborative effort—you can’t do it alone.

When it comes to green meetings, making sure your suppliers have green practices as well is an important part of the equation. Here are 5 tips from the sustainable meeting experts at Meet Green for doing so.

Step One: Develop a Sustainability Policy

A green meetings policy should include the following elements: a vision statement that concisely describes your ideal outcome, product or service; a list of principles that will help you know how to respond to an opportunity or challenge in a way that aligns with your sustainability vision; an understanding of environmental or social issues are most important to your organization, such as climate change; and specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely objectives (an example would be if you are requiring recycling, ask for a diversion rate).

Step Two: Communicate Objectives

Share your expectations with suppliers and ask them for their sustainability policies to better understand what they are committed to and working toward. Query the vendors’ practices in RFPs, for everyone from your hotel or convention center to your transportation company to your general service contractor, and weigh your decisions based on their answers and ability to provide sustainable services and products at no additional charge.

Step Three: Negotiate and Contract

Organic and local produce, composting, water-wise menus, food donation, local produce, bulk condiments, sustainable seafood, skip the straw, no disposables, electronic signage, recycled carpet, towel reuse and post-event reporting are all negotiable items. Once negotiated, make sure they are contracted as well. Always require a back of house tour for venues and hotels during the site selection process and during the event itself.

Step 4: Enroll Vendors

Perhaps the most overlooked part of the process is to enroll your suppliers. Negotiations are over, contracts are signed and now it is time to come together as a team. Make sure each knows they are a valued partner, chosen for their excellence and leadership in this area. Create a green team including main stakeholders in all areas of the event, and hold scheduled meetings where everyone reports on their progress. Require accountability, consistent feedback and collaboration.

Step 5: Measure, Debrief and Report

Require vendors to provide measurement data as outlined in the policy and contract. Set a date to receive the information, which is usually within 30 days of the event. Meet each vendor either individually or as a team to discuss what worked well and why, as well as what didn’t and opportunity for improvement. Tell your story throughout the organization, to your participants, sponsors, exhibitors and vendors, and acknowledge vendors in the press, to their management and to other event organizers.

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Barbara Scofidio is editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In 25 years of covering the industry, her articles have spanned topics ranging from social media to strategic meetings management. She is currently the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee and was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of Site, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. A familiar face at industry events, Barbara often leads panel discussions or speaks on topics close to her heart, such as green meetings or how the industry can help combat human trafficking. She is also on the board of ECPAT USA, the human trafficking organization. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.