Sustainability is top of mind for meeting planners everywhere and in Columbus, we believe that it should be. It’s no longer necessary to choose between saving money and making smart environmentally friendly decisions when it comes to planning a meeting, trade show or conference event. The meetings industry has plenty of opportunities to easily implement new strategies to decrease their carbon footprint.

It begins with recognizing areas in the event planning process that have excess. Where can you eliminate paper? Waste? Do you end up with way too much food after meals? Where does that go? Recognizing where to redirect surplus and who to talk to about how to make those things happen is the first step. Here are some easy ways to get started:


Woman using CBUS Rewards app to find hotel near her in Dublin


1. Go paperless.

There are plenty of areas where paper can be reduced or eliminated. Encourage digital registration and implement programs and schedules in a conference app. Not only is it an environmentally conscious decision on your part, but now attendees aren’t bombarded with papers and programs. Think about creating event signage that can be reused, or check with the venue to see if they have directional signage on hand you can use.


Two women biking with COGO bikes in Columbus


2. Encourage alternative ways of getting around.

Much of an event’s carbon footprint comes from travel to and from the destination. If you can’t eliminate the way attendees get to the event, you can direct people to choose smart transportation while in the city. Not only is Columbus an extremely walkable city in general, but it also has a free circulator called the CBUS, rentable electric scooters and bike rental stations. In the planning stages, look for offsite venue needs within walking distance of the hotels. This not only cuts costs on your end but also allows attendees to engage with locals and truly immerse themselves in the city to and from the event.


The Smart Farm inside the Greater Columbus Convention Center


3. Utilize your venue!

The Greater Columbus Convention Center is committed to sustainable meetings. Tap into their expertise and ask what they can do to make your meeting the greenest it can be. From using products grown in their SmartFarm to energy-efficient HVAC and lighting, or placing single-stream recycling containers in prominent places. Talk to your event manager about what can be done with food that isn’t consumed during meals. Can it be donated to local food banks or homeless shelters? Does the venue compost its organic waste? Instead of disposable cups at water fill stations, encourage attendees to bring their own water bottles.

Going green requires a social component as well. Be sure you’re promoting your green meeting on social media, attendee emails, and event apps wherever possible. The more attendees see about your push to go green, the more likely they’ll be to participate. Include green symbols on signage and collateral to keep sustainability top of mind for attendees. When you make it clear that sustainability is important to your organization, attendees will be proud to be a part of something progressive.

Is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) part of your event? This is a really great way to interact with the destination and promote your sustainable culture. Organize a river clean up or tree planting, lend a hand to the horticulture team at Franklin Park Conservatory or be part of community growth at Franklinton Farms. If you need suggestions on how to get involved in Columbus, reach out to your convention services manager.

Event swag doesn’t have to include another forgettable tchotchke that may get tossed aside (and end up in a landfill!). Think about implementing digital swag like coupons to area restaurants while attendees are in, offer to make donations to a local charity instead of paying for bag stuffers, or push the green theme by giving reusable items like tote bags or stainless steel water bottles.

By taking a few sustainable steps, you can create new excitement around your event. Attendees will be able to engage differently than ever before and be rewarded with a sense of giving back. For help with going green, contact your convention services manager at Experience Columbus.