It IS easy being sustainable

Expert Opinion
It IS easy being sustainable

IACC CEO Mark Cooper’s reusable cup runneth over with ideas for venues to raise their sustainable meetings game.

Sustainability is key for our planet’s survival and the meetings industry has an extremely important role when leading the business into the future.

To attract clients and delegates, venues have no other choice than to be more conscious of their environmental footprint and the effects their day-to-day practices could have on the environment. We owe it to our children and future staff , who will demand it from their employers.

You have to start with yourself. Personally, I have vowed to lead a more sustainable lifestyle starting with simple changes to my daily routine. I now use a reusable cup for both water and hot drinks on the go, I walk or cycle short journeys rather than drive, and I have become much more conscious of the products I purchase at the supermarket, reducing the amount of single-use plastic I use.

Sustainability was a natural choice for this year’s IACC Europe Knowledge Festival where our campfire sessions focused on different aspects of sustainability, from how to get started with sustainable events, to food and beverage and climate change, delivered by our keynote speaker and climate and environmental activist, Nic Balthazar.

Nic’s session “Change climate change!” encouraged attendees to take a step back from their personal thoughts and see it as a fun and creative topic. We had some incredible conversations about how we, as an industry, can make sustainability an easier topic to digest, as well as the simple changes we can all make.

Of course, being sustainable isn’t just about using less plastic or reducing carbon emissions. Tracy Stuckrath, Consultant at Thrive Meetings & Events, used her session to show how we can become more sustainable with our food and drink choices. Tracy delved into the positive effects on the environment of buying local produce, fair trade products and serving fresh and seasonal food. It’s often the small things that make the biggest impacts.

I’m sure there are small changes that most venues could make to help operations become more sustainable. One of these is the eradication of minimum food and beverage spend, which encourages over-ordering. We must replace the bad habits that have formed over many years.

 

The future

We have reached out to our member venues and asked them how they thought sustainability could affect the future of the meetings industry.

We had some fantastic responses, but there was one answer that kept reoccurring – the need for smarter and greener venues.

In 2007, we established our IACC Code of Sustainability, which we update regularly to ensure it is in keeping of the latest initiatives and practices. Our current code includes 60 principles in the following areas: Education, Awareness and Public Declaration; Waste Management; Recycling; Reuse; Water Conservation; Purchasing; Energy Management; Air Quality; Food & Beverage.

By signing the IACC Code of Sustainability our members agree to support our Environmental Policy. Alongside the code we also have our Green Star Certification for venues. The venues can achieve platinum, gold and silver status dependent on their initiatives and scores against our Code of Sustainability.

While sustainability can feel like a mammoth topic, it’s also exciting to know you’re making a difference, however small. We suggest starting simple. Here are a few quick ways to get started with sustainable events.

1) Choose eco-friendly venues – most venues promote their initiatives so they should be easy to find. At IACC we showcase venues that have achieved Green Star Certification by tier on our environmental initiatives page. There are also different national eco-labels,. Make sure the venue you choose for your meeting has at least one of those.

2) Reduce the transportation footprint – choose a bus that runs on biofuel for the group when travelling to the chosen venue, or maybe even encourage attendees to walk or cycle to the venue rather than using taxis when possible? You can make it a fun activity and even reward the person who has covered the most miles by using public transport walking or cycling with a prize.

3) Look for venues that offer a sustainable checklist that supports your planning for a sustainable
meeting.

It really is easy being sustainable.