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Choosing Promotional Products for Your Next Zero Waste Event

Zero waste events are on the rise. For decades, conventions and meetings have produced huge amounts of waste from paper to disposable water bottles. Now convention and meeting goers are expecting greener meetings with small waste-reduction strategies like recycling or events that are completely zero waste. 

When planning green meetings or events, it all begins with choosing the location for your event. One of the easiest ways to plan a greener meeting is by choosing a destination that is easily accessible for out of town attendees. Is there public transportation from the airport? After choosing your destination, seek out hotels or convention centers that make sustainability a priority and are experienced hosting zero-waste events. They will have trained staff, composting and recycling supplies and following procedures to eliminate waste. 

During the planning phase, take the time to seek out promotional products with environmentally friendly attributes. On-site conference and catering staff will provide reusable glassware during meals but also ask that water refill stations be placed throughout the venue. Upon registration, give attendees a branded reusable water bottle to refill any time during the event. Encourage attendees to take their reusable water bottles home with them when they leave, further expanding the elimination of need for single-use bottles or disposable cups. 

Badges, badge holders and lanyards are three other must-haves for events. For zero waste events, choose recycled and biodegradable seed paper name badges and compostable badge holders. While lanyards are neither compostable nor biodegradable, you can choose eco-friendly lanyards made from recycled plastic bottles. After the event, lanyards can be reused, donated to local schools or upcycled (check Pinterest for some great ideas!) Another way to reduce waste at your event is to give attendees the option of bringing their own lanyards or collecting the lanyards at the end of the event to be used again in the future. Arizona State University has a zero-waste goal and the school’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering recycles lanyards after school events

Pre-planning is another easy way to green your event. Order your promotional products at least a month before your event. The time, resources and extra costs involved with rush shipping are unnecessary burdens on your bottom line and the environment. Time the shipping of your promotional products order to ship directly to your event, thus eliminating extra shipping costs and further reducing your carbon footprint. convention center or hotel will hold them for you.

A final simple step for zero-waste meetings is to have recycling stations available for attendees to recycle anything and everything that can be recycled, reused or donated including paper, aluminum cans, conference bags and more. Have signage by the stations showing what can be recycled and what cannot. Some convention centers allow exhibitors and attendees to donate leftover materials. Example: the Colorado Convention center has an onsite “Reclaim Room”. Materials are given to local nonprofits and organizations that can use the materials. Almost 30,000 pounds of materials were donated in its first year.