If your organization is like ours, it has made a commitment to the environment and social responsibility which should extend to meetings. We recognize that the single biggest contributor to an event’s carbon footprint is travel, which, according to MeetGreen, accounts for more than 90% of the carbon emissions from an average event.

At the same time, we recognize the value of human interaction, face-to-face meetings (even mask-to-mask meetings), and coming together as a network.

How do you strive to reduce carbon emissions and hold in-person meetings? Balance and transparency.

For CleanMed, we hope to strike a balance to mitigate our environmental impacts while coming together. We follow an event sustainability plan, as we have always done which includes, but is not limited to:

  • First rethinking, reducing, and reusing resources.
  • Eliminating disposable or single-use plastics where possible.
  • Composting and/or donating excess food from meal events.
  • Reducing onsite carbon emissions where possible and offsetting carbon emissions for all CleanMed staff and attendee airfare.
  • Communicating with registered attendees ahead of time about our sustainability effort and providing actionable ways they can help reduce the event’s environmental footprint.
  • Working with the hotel venue to make local and sustainably sourced food a priority.
  • Ensuring we reduce as much waste as possible, and providing recycling throughout the conference to divert waste from landfill.
  • Holding ourselves accountable and measuring sustainability targets with the help of our sustainable event consultants, MeetGreen.

Producing a sustainable event involves a concerted effort across vendors and supply chains to help transform an industry.

Venue selection

With sustainability increasingly “built-in” to the fabric and processes of hotels and meeting venues we seek eco-friendly venues. During the selection process we:

  • Ask to see a venue’s environmental policy and any certification.
  • Select a venue that has good access via public transportation.
  • Select a venue that has energy-efficient lighting and HVAC, as well as water-conserving plumbing fixtures and best practices in place to reduce the need for equipment transportation by considering a venue that provides its own technical equipment and support.
  • Identify venues that offer great opportunities for outdoor activities to make the most of the natural surroundings.

Waste minimization and diversion

  • Reduce paper use to a minimum by avoiding handouts and other paper-based materials. Where printed materials are needed, select more sustainable options (FSC certified paper, soy-based ink, double-sided printing, etc.)
  • Use a digital app to replace agendas and programs.
  • Ensure paper and cardboard recycling bins are available.
  • Don’t automatically provide paper note pads to attendees.
  • Distribute presentations electronically.
  • Discourage the use of paper business cards.
  • Use digital options for feedback and surveys.

Meeting consumables

  • Look for alternatives to flip charts like dry erase whiteboard and/or digital projection.
  • Prioritize digital, rather than paper-based signage.
  • Select reusable name badges that can be collected at the end of an event, and recycled/re-used.
  • Consider eco-friendly alternatives to meeting materials.

Carbon reduction

  • Minimize use of lighting, heating, and air conditioning. Choose meeting rooms with windows that provide natural light where possible.
  • Actively promote the use of public transportation, bikes, and walking to off-site events and points of interest.
  • Carbon offsetting CO2 from our event and providing options for attendees to do the same.
  • Encourage attendees to act sustainably – promoting energy and water efficiency.

Sustainable and healthy catering

  • Selecting a venue that prioritizes and provides sustainable food and beverage procurement such as local and organic suppliers, and one that supports our partnership with DefaultVeg to make plant-forward options the default and give attendees the choice to opt-in for meals with animal products.
  • Avoid the use of plastic water bottles.

The future

Practice Greenhealth and Health Care Without Harm are committed to implementing more virtual options when possible while continuing to plan in-person events as sustainably as possible.

As society faces challenges, many turn to the power of events to find solutions, foster collaboration, celebrate successes, and ensure accountability. We believe that we can contribute to our mission and a more sustainable future by first applying sustainability practices to event design and execution, providing opportunities to mitigate footprints, and designing new types of events that don’t require business travel which may allow for more international attendees and accessibility for people with disabilities.

Our commitments:

  • Continue to convene a sustainability sub-committee of our conference management team to keep these commitments and goals front and center.
  • Work with a meeting/event planning partner that focuses on sustainable event planning.
  • Act to minimize our carbon footprint in all that we do.
  • When in-person events are planned, select venues partners with a sustainability ethos and/or attributes to achieve our meeting sustainability goals.
  • Act to reduce waste and promote recycling and expect our suppliers to act in the same way.
  • Actively engage within the health care sector to promote a greener approach to meetings and events.

We hope you’ll join us on this journey.