Three leaders in sustainable meetings—Mariella McIlwraith, Shawna McKinley and Nancy Zavada—have joined forces to publish Meet Better: 167 Easy Ways to Make Your Meetings More Environmentally and Socially Responsible. Here’s just a sampling of their collective wisdom.
1. Donate leftover food. Some venues or caterers may have concern about liability. However, many laws protect food donors. Contact the food bank to confirm local regulations and practice safe food handling.
2. Serve seasonal food from local farms and vendors. Buying locally supports the community’s economy and typically results in fresher food. It also helps to reduce your food miles, though this is only one factor in determining the environmental impact of your menus. 83 percent of the average U.S. household’s carbon footprint for food comes from growing and producing it. Transportation is only 11 percent.
3. Be flexible and allow the chef to make decisions that meet your budget and sustainability goals.
4. Ask your chef to minimize air-freighted food. Pay particular attention to fish and tropical fruit. These can significantly increase the carbon footprint of your menu.
5. Carefully order food to minimize waste. Very often, meeting planners guarantee numbers across the board for all functions. Instead, cross-check with arrivals and departures and past history to make adjustments for each meal functions.