Believe it or not, for an industry that is all about people and forging connections between them, the Meeting and Event industry generates a lot of waste. From all the handouts, to the food and even where all the furniture comes from, meetings and events leave a fairly sizable carbon footprint. At Catalyst Ranch, “green” is part of who we are and we are constantly taking new steps and implementing new practices to make both the Ranch and the industry more environmentally friendly. Below are three big, but easy to implement tips for a green meeting.
Meetings and events can burn through a lot of paper and plastic products before you’ve even thought of it. Copies, handouts, invoices, disposable plates, plastic-ware, coffee cups – it all adds up. While you might not be able to reduce to zero footprint there are certainly steps you can take that make a pretty drastic difference. For example, in planning your meeting, think about how much you can do digitally. Is that physical handout really necessary? Most presenters today plug their laptops into either our TVs or projectors, and we offer Google Chromecast so they can throw their presentations easier, right from their phones, so participants instead can follow along digitally. Invoices are another easy one, at the Ranch we use an all-digital invoicing system and our clients actually find it more convenient than paper. At Catalyst Ranch we also never use disposable plates and cutlery, opting instead to use reusable ceramic plates, funky vintage cups and stainless steel silverware. No Styrofoam, no plastic. Not only is it environmentally conscious, but it’s cost effective too.
In addition to washing and reusing our dishware, this sensibility and philosophy extends to our entire environment. All of our furniture is vintage Americana that has been rehabbed and re-purposed. That’s hundreds of chairs and dozens of tables all given brand new life instead of sitting in a landfill. The same goes for all the toys, games and wall decorations that you’ll find around the Ranch. Additionally, when planning your meeting, take a look at the practices of those organization with which you partner. Do they follow similar green practices? For example, our in-house caterer Big Delicious Planet is the first caterer in the country to receive 4 Star Certified Green Restaurant status. We love that they “re-used” two city lots and turned them into Urban Farms where they grow their own delicious vegetables.
You’ve heard it many times before but you truly can’t hear it enough. Recycle, recycle, recycle! Believe it or not there are more ways to recycle than throwing paper in that blue bin and you can recycle a whole lot more than just paper. Try looking into recycling services for your plastic, cardboard, electronics, batteries, ink cartridges, and even fluorescent lights! Additionally, make the switch from traditional plastic storage and garbage bags to ones that are bio-degradable. Meetings often generate a lot of food and at the end of the day we are often left with a lot of leftovers. This food never gets thrown away; instead it is donated the same day to the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago’s South Loop, the oldest, continuously-operating rescue mission in the country, where it is put to good use. It may sound like a lot of extra work, but many missions, shelters and food pantries will pick up food donations directly from you.
These are just a few of the many steps that Catalyst Ranch implements in the hopes of making the meetings and events industries into greener state.