In this article we offer suggestions to assist in making your next corporate event in Santa Barbara more environmentally and socially responsible.
Modeling good environmental practices starts in your own office. Two ways to easily create a more environmentally friendly office are using electronic communications whenever possible, and instituting recycling programs. Then take the time to teach your staff how to use them. There should be clear, easy to read signage indicating how to properly recycle office materials such as both white and colored paper, magazines, newspapers, brochures, envelopes, junk mail, cardboard (should be flattened) and even books. Encourage and reward your office staff for carpooling whenever possible.
In the past, event marketing was a large source of paper waste. Now, it is easy to produce attractive online sponsorship opportunities that can be sent and managed electronically. In regards to meeting planning, all speaker management should be generated electronically as well. The website created for the event should be the primary means by which information is disseminated. You can send email reminders about any changes or important due dates, and everything should link back to the website. If you must have a printed program, do it on recycled content paper that is processed chlorine free using vegetable based inks. Print a limited quantity of these, and make information available on screens strategically placed around your conference area as an alternative way to disseminate information.
It is critical to work with local hotels that are committed to the environment. In Santa Barbara, there are numerous hotels that offer recycling and waste diversion programs, and are committed to reducing water waste on their properties through the use of water saving showerheads and low flow toilets. Many hotels have instituted energy conserving guest room programs, such as guest directed limitation of linen and towel changes and use of fluorescent bulbs in light fixtures. Local “green” hotels include: the Four Seasons Biltmore, Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort, Bacara, and for something utterly charming and a bit more rustic, El Capitan Canyon.
Event attendees should be encouraged via advance emails and the event’s website to share rides, use group vans or take Airporter buses from the Santa Barbara airport, Burbank airport, and Los Angeles International airport. Upon conference check in, guests should be given “cheat sheets” printed on recycled paper reminding them of the important “green” choices they can make throughout the duration of their stay. While many people are aware of hotels offering towel and linen reuse options, encourage participants to actually utilize these programs. They can make a huge difference, particularly when a large group of attendees makes this choice together.
The amount of water and energy savings can be calculated and printed on the “cheat sheet,” so attendees can see the amount of impact they could be making. Ask attendees to turn off lights, TV’s, radio/CD players and air conditioning or heating when leaving their hotel room. Remind them to unplug phone chargers, laptops and other electronic equipment when they are not being used, as these are easily avoided sources of energy waste. Ask that they bring reusable water bottles, or better yet offer them as conference gifts with your corporate logo printed on them. Upon check-in and throughout the conference area, offer a series of easily accessible water bottle refilling stations. Offer water glasses in the event reusable bottles are forgotten or misplaced. The reduction of waste by not using disposable cups or plastic water bottles should also be calculated and included on the “cheat sheet” shared with the group.
o Online Sponsorship Prospectus (not printed and mailed).
o Web site is the primary vehicle for event information.
o Limited Advance Program printed on recycled paper and only one printing.
o All marketing generated electronically.
o Online registration offered and primarily used.
Onsite at Event
o Boxes and packing materials are saved and reused for return shipping and/or recycled.
o All materials printed on recycled paper using soy or vegetable-based inks.
o Event materials bags are made from recycled material.
o Badge stock is recycled paper.
o No bottled water provided. Onsite- pitchers and/or water coolers plus glassware instead.
o Durable, reusable signage used as much as possible.
o No disposable “to go” cups.
o Handouts posted online rather than printed and distributed.
o The destination for the event is walk-able, or close to public transit for restaurants and nightlife.
o Offsite event venues are walking distance from hotel.
o Caterers support local growers who practice sustainable organic methods.
o China and glass used rather than paper products whenever possible.
o Guests must sign-up for major meal functions (limiting waste).
o Event Information provided exclusively online via website links, rather than with paper materials onsite.
Local Montecito based event planner Merryl Brown, President of Merryl Brown Events, specializes in creating elegant, classic events that are both environmentally sensitive and beautiful. We look at every aspect of your event through a prism of sustainability to determine how to create an event that is both gracious and green, simultaneously. We offer everything from event consulting to sustainability advising to complete event production. We plan social, corporate, and fundraising events as well as weddings. Elegance with Intelligence TM is our motto!