Does this sound familiar? For every meeting you have fifty different items needed - badges, signage, badge ribbons, lanyards, banners, and so on. After the event, the majority of them are thrown away. This is double tragedy!
First, you've paid a significant amount of money for itmes you’re in essence, throwing away. Secondly, all your additional waste has a negative impact on the environment. Meet the second midfield player of the Green Team - #5 Re Use. The best way to save money and avoid adding to landfill is to reuse!
Preparation is Your Friend
Reusing signage and badges is not difficult but requires some good preparation. During the preparation and procurement phase of your event, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I REALLY need this item?
- Can I use this item for future meetings?
- Is there anyone else who could use this item after the meeting?
Name badges are an important item for most events and conferences, but often end up in the trash afterwards. It can be different! Many suppliers now offer reusable badge holders. Or ask your guests to bring their own lanyards along - this is a great way for attendees to show their personalities. Put measures in place to encourage badge recycling at all events. For example, place a large box at the exit down with a sign 'Give me your badge back'. A wonderful idea we saw this year at IMEX Frankfurt was their Badge Back Programme. Using their badge recycling boxes as a way for attendees to 'vote' for donations to local charities, IMEX made recycling badges both fun and impactful.
Lots of signage can be used more than once. If you plan ahead and don't include a date or year on your signs and banners, they can have a very long usage life. Think of your next event carefully: do you really need a new design or logo every year? Or is a banner with your logo but no date equally recognizable?
One Man's Trash is Another's Treasure
Keep the things you can use from year to year, but then consider who else might benefit from meeting items you might be discarding. Flowers, pens, tablecloths (and more) are all items that could be donated to local charities or groups in your community - from schools and nursing homes, to homeless shelters and community outreach programs. See what's in your area and what the need might be. Establish relationships with local organizations that you can call on when you have items to donate. Even the most sustainable events sometimes have waste.
At GMIC's annual Sustainable Meetings Conference in San Francisco this year, the few items that would normally have been trashed were donated to S.C.R.A.P., an innovative program that finds creative ways to reuse items that would otherwise find their way into landfill. Is there something like that in your community?