An IMEX America session encouraging event professionals to be “conservers, creators, and catalysts” for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals provided great ideas from presenters and audience members alike

An IMEX session on aligning the meetings industry with the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals drew an enthusiastic response from audience members eager to share best practices from their own events. Mariela McIlwraith, CMP, director of industry advancement for the Events Industry Council, and Guy Bigwood, managing director of the Global Destinations Sustainability Index and former president of the Green Meeting Industry Council, hosted the session on how meeting planners can support the 17 SDGs.

While many planners are already actively working to end food waste at events, which aligns with Goal 2 (zero hunger), and venues are working on Goals 6 and 7 (reducing water waste and using clean and renewable energy), some of the industry examples showed that the events and hospitality industries are devoting a lot of creativity to sustainable development.

Below are some of the coolest suggestions and examples from the event.

Recycle, Reduce, Reuse

A hotel in Sweden decided to use unique recycled clothing for its uniforms. The uniforms were so popular one employee wore hers to a Christmas Party.

The Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, hosted a huge flooring show and was left with thousands of carpet samples. Rather than send them to a landfill, local artist Chad Farnes used them to create a mural of Utah’s first female state senator, Martha “Mattie” Hughes Cannon. 

Many audience members were reusing lanyards from previous shows or had their own personally branded ones. Even something this easy can limit the amount of plastic and nylon that gets sent to landfills.

Offset Your Carbon Footprint

There are many organizations that offer the tools to calculate your event’s carbon footprint and credits to reduce it, including the U.N.’s Carbon Offset Platform and Montreal-based Planetair, which has produced a guide for festival and event organizers on carbon neutral events. One credit purchased from Planetair offsets one ton of CO2 in the atmosphere through investment in the environment and additional credits can be purchased in support of community and educational programs.

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