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This is a guest post written in partnership with Balboa Travel, Inc., a Green Business Bureau Member.

Customers and employees are often surprised when green companies serve bottled water at meetings or hand out tchotchkes that are not sustainable at meetings and tradeshows. The reality is that often people do not want another “goodie” made from plastic, foam or other synthetic material. Groups and meetings often are not even measured as a part of the corporate CO2 travel footprint. Consider when selecting a professional meeting, conference, or travel planning company that they are including environmental performance (“sustainability”) language that requires or weights the inclusion of any and all attempts to “green” the meeting. The central concepts and ideologies that are critical to effective green travel and meetings are:

  • Sustainable benefits to local communities
  • An emphasis on conservation
  • Education for both the local community and travelers
  • Illustrating traveler responsibility – ecologically and socially
  • Active community participation

Reputable suppliers should be able to provide information and guidance. Consider increasing the level of education and activism, which allows all involved to become effective and enthusiastic agents of conservation.

Also consider communication can occur through three elements and channels:

  • Conservation: Show people the market-linked long-term solutions and socio-economic incentives available through conservation, and which sustain bio-cultural diversity that protects the natural and cultural heritage.
  • Communities: Increase local building and employment opportunities when able, as ecotourism can provide a means to encourage local communities to achieve sustainable development while providing employment and can fight poverty.
  • Interpretation: Focus on enriching personal experiences and environmental awareness. Ecotourism promotes a greater understanding and appreciation for nature, local people and communities, and culture.

Balboa Travel’s goal is to ensure that we offer meeting planning that minimizes adverse impacts on the environment. Our commitment includes, but is not limited to following the Convention Council’s Green Meeting Task Force in the following areas:

  • Best Practices:
    • Recommend using carbon programs through companies that use venues and suppliers with environmental practices in place
      • Reducing solid waste
      • Conservation on energy and water
    • Recycling Programs
      • Paper/metal/glass/plastic products
      • Staff that shuts blinds, turns off lights and A/C when hotel rooms are vacant
      • Hotels that offer linen reuse programs
      • Hotels where guest rooms have amenity dispensers
      • Hotels that donate unused amenities to charity
    • Food and Beverage
      • Hotels that donate unused food and beverages
      • Reusable cutlery, dishware, linens, decorations

At Balboa Travel, we provide advice and leadership to ensure that we jointly succeed in planning meetings, conferences, and events that are both cost conscious and eco-friendly. By partnering with our clients and working together, the results benefit us all.

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Author Bio:

Stephen Thomas-Schulere, Balboa Meeting & Event Solutions

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