With 2017 being the United Nations International Year of Sustainable Tourism, the commitment to making travel kinder to the earth is in the spotlight.

Better business

This desire to leave less of a footprint — and more of a positive impact — also extends to business travel and the meetings, conferences and events we join once we hit the ground.

Building sustainability into business gatherings is a winning idea all around. Hosting organizations, destinations and venues show their leadership; delegates engage and feel good; and, most importantly, the earth reaps the benefits of less wear and tear.

Polling the planners

“Increasingly, organizations are giving back to the cities where they gather.”

To shed more light on how sustainability is progressing at conferences and events, the IMEX Group (early adopters of green meeting efforts at IMEX shows in Europe and the United States) and Meeting Professionals International recently surveyed planners on their green goals and activities.

Happily, results show that green meetings are increasingly in the pink. Nearly three quarters (72 percent) of meeting planners surveyed reported they’ve increased their efforts to put sustainability into action at meetings over the past five years. 21 percent declare they have “significantly increased” their efforts.

So, what do green meetings look like? Here are some best practices happening as we speak.

Waste not, want not

Waste management, reuse and recycling yields big results quickly, and meeting hosts and planners are increasingly working with hotels, convention centers and other venues to do just that. Food, flower and equipment donations, biodegradable tableware, recycled hotel toiletries, water conscious menus and signage and carpeting reuse can take a real bite out of the garbage that ends up in our landfills.

Going local

Farm-to-table catering has come of age, with local suppliers offering seasonal and regional favorites that take business dining to higher levels of quality and care.

Leaving a legacy

Increasingly, organizations are giving back to the cities where they gather. Whether it’s helping at shelters, cleaning up parks or participating in local wildlife conservation (think turtle rescue) meeting attendees get a lot out of giving back to the communities they are visiting and vice versa.

With millions of people meeting around the world every day, the impact that best practices for green meetings can have on the earth is fruitful indeed.