Why Are Green Meetings Still So Hard to Do?

I had always truly believed greening your meetings was easy -- at least the low-hanging fruit bits were. After more than a decade steeped in my belief, reality finally hit me: This really isn't easy!

Who was I kidding? Undoubtedly, myself. Even when people told me it's too difficult, I would say, "It just starts with something simple like asking your vendors to do at least one thing to green the event."

I still believe making "the ask" for green practices is easy; actually implementing or manifesting them, not so much. As is often the case when you've known something for a long time and someone finally gets it too, I suspect many of you who know me are saying "duh, Amy" -- and deservedly so.

For me, the acceptance of this fact is painful to admit and more so to write. I desperately wanted to believe it wasn't so, even in the face of constant road blocks.

Here's a typical example of the challenges we continue to face in the attempt to make green meetings easier. We've been working with a facility nearly every year since 2003 to convince, cajole, threaten and plead for them to consistently offer sustainable practices, and yet, we're still having similar conversations every time we work with them.

In the beginning, it was getting them to fully utilize the recycling program they already had in place. We encouraged them to put trash bins next to the recycling bins instead of across the hall so that when people had to make a decision of where to put their waste they saw all the choices and were more likely to make the more sustainable one.

Convincing them to do this literally took years to adequately implement. Now that they've finally hired a sustainability staff person, they've decided to up-charge clients for reporting their diversion numbers at the end of the event, instead of including it in just what they do. And this is a property promoting itself as sustainable!

Next page: Even setting a standard for green meetings is a challenge