Thursday, September 9, 2010
There’s a growing backlash against the stacks of wasted paper, mounds of plastic water bottles and daunting carbon footprints left behind after most conferences. An emerging “green meeting” movement encourages relying less on paper, banning disposable products and meeting in energy-efficient venues.
Next month, CSU-Monterey Bay’s brand-new Institute for Innovation and Economic Development will tackle the issue with, well, a green meeting.
On Oct. 4, the Sustainable Hospitality Symposium will bring together international green-meeting experts and local hospitality leaders. It will also be the inaugural event for the institute, which was founded last year as a joint venture between the university and the Monterey County Business Council.
CSUMB president Dianne Harrison said she is looking forward to the discussion on green events. “I think this is the perfect blend for the university and the business community,” she says.
Industry experts report growing interest in environmentally responsible conferences. A survey last year by the trade magazine Meetings & Conventions found that 71 percent of meeting planners either already request information about venues’ environmental practices, or plan to this year.
High on the symposium’s agenda will be a discussion of how Monterey Bay can market itself as a conference destination on the cutting edge of sustainable practices. “We want to help local industry see that being green will lead to green,” said Eric Tao, the institute’s planning director.
The symposium itself aims to be a model meeting. Beyond using paper sparingly and serving produce from local farms, organizers say they are contemplating using carbon offsets for travel and recycling leftover food into animal feed.