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I didn’t know that the average conference attendee generates more than 20 pounds of waste per day, four times what the same person would generate at home. I didn’t know that an attendee’s water usage, on average, is triple that of a home resident.

But now I know – thanks to my colleague Allyson Wagner, who assists Omnience clients with meeting planning, site logistics and sustainability initiatives. She serves on the board for the Atlanta Chapter of the Green Meetings Industry Council (GMIC) and is GMIC’s immediate past president.

Yes, Allyson has raised my eyebrows on what it means to implement green meeting practices.  GMIC, along with the Convention Industry Council’s Accepted Practices Exchange (APEX) and ASTM International (a standards-making body), worked several years to build environmental standards for sustainable meetings. The result, published last year, is the ASTM Standards for Green Meetings.

This isn’t far-out, blue-sky stuff.  Tools, checklists and scorecards are available to help planners, venues and suppliers make sure their events are good for the planet.

Allyson, in a recent webinar on best practices for sustainable meetings, used a personal experience to explain how practical the new standards are:  “At a San Francisco sustainability conference, we worked with all of the event’s suppliers, and we were shocked at how open they were and how excited they got. They were surprised at how much they were already doing.”

Our entire industry needs to get involved in sustainability initiatives and benchmarking our progress.  I urge you to listen to this fascinating webinar.  In less than 40 minutes, you’ll learn how and why the standards came about, what resources are available to implement the standards, and how they create value for your career and your organization.

I’ll end with a few more things I’ve learned from Allyson and her co-presenters from this webinar:

  • I didn’t know that “green” initiatives are so compatible with profits.
  • I didn’t know that hotels are saving thousands of dollars per event, just by providing water in pitchers instead of plastic bottles.
  • I didn’t realize how much power event planners actually have to drive implementation of the standards.

Thanks for the lessons on how we can help the planet, Allyson.  She and I would love to hear your stories and experiences in fostering sustainable meetings—use our email links, tweet us your comments, or post comments here.

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