The Power to Ask Can Lead to More Sustainable Events

Published by on April 21, 2014 9:35 am
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By Jeff Chase,
Vice President for Sustainability at Freeman

To commemorate Earth Day, Freeman’s Washington D.C. branch recently hosted a discussion on sustainability in the events industry as part of its “Thinking Thursdays” series, a monthly networking forum for event professionals.  I was joined by Amanda Simons from Greenview to answer questions on how to engage a wide range of stakeholders in developing and implementing a Sustainable Events Plan.

“Meeting planners have the power to ask. While the APEX/ASTM standards and others can provide industry guidelines, it is important for event organizers to ask their supplier partners—venues, food and beverage, transportation, general service contractors and others—about sustainability options,” explained Amanda.

Green Think Thurs

Jeff Chase and Amanda Simons at the April Thinking Thursdays event

The ASTM standards cover the nine sectors of a meeting or event – destination, venue, accommodations, food & beverage, transportation, AV, exhibit hall, marketing communications and on-site office. These standards provide the common vocabulary and guidelines for anyone wanting to run a more sustainable meeting, whether planner or supplier. Freeman’s Joe Pestka was part of the team that helped develop the standards released a few years ago by the Convention Industry Council and Green Meetings Industry Council (GMIC) to provide a framework for sustainable meetings and events.

During GMIC’s annual Sustainable Meetings Conference in San Francisco last week, more than 250 event professionals convened to discuss and explore the evolution of the sustainable events.  I joined Tom Bowman, author of  “The Green Edge: How Sustainability Can Help Exhibit and Meeting Planners Save Money and Build Stronger Brands” in a session moderated by Kate Hurst, Director, Greenbuild Conference & Events, U.S. Green Building Council, to discuss “Taking Practical Steps and Making Good Choices.”

“It is really important to think through the life cycle of products like creating a new exhibit booth every year. Ask your designers and suppliers to create sustainable solutions. Can it be made of recycled materials and can it be recycled after its use?” says Tom.

EcoTower - honeycomb

Freeman “Honeycomb,” a high-quality paper substrate

At Freeman, we offer environmentally-friendly signage options like Freeman “Honeycomb,” a high-quality paper substrate for direct printing that is 100% recyclable. We continue to explore new sustainable options in carpeting made from recycled plastic bottles, recyclable table covers and waste bins with recycling, composting and landfill compartments for individual exhibit booths.

As the lead sustainability advocate at Freeman, I work closely with our account teams, production crews, procurement staff and many others to ask our suppliers about sustainable options. In addition, we are always on the lookout for new vendors and manufacturers who can provide products for our clients that are both economically and environmentally sustainable.

In the six months since GMIC launched its “Ask For It!” campaign, more and more event organizers are exercising their “power to ask” and challenge supplier partners, including Freeman, to provide products made with recycled/recyclable materials.  Working together, we can make every event a sustainable event and everyday can be Earth Day.

Jeff Chase is Vice President of Sustainability at Freeman. For all the ways that we can help green your event, click here.

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