Why Purposeful Meetings Matter

By Jennifer Silberman Vice President, Corporate Responsibility, Hilton Worldwide | September 20, 2015

In today's business world, much of our time is spent attending meetings and conferences. A 2014 PricewaterhouseCoopers study examining meeting attendance and type found that more than 1.8 million meetings occurred in the United States over a year's time, with 225 million participants. The majority of these meetings were business/corporate (50 percent), followed by conventions (27 percent) and trade shows (12 percent).

In-person meetings are a critical part of any business strategy, providing networking opportunities, personal connections and focused time to solve important issues. However, meetings can also have an unnecessary negative impact on the environment and broader sustainability efforts.

According to MeetGreen, an organization that helps global organizations develop sustainable meeting practices, the average conference participant generates the equivalent of two trash bags of solid waste a day, or about 61 pounds. That figure is in stark contrast with 4.1 pounds of solid waste generated each day by a person at home.

The startling fact that people tend to be more wasteful at conferences and meetings than in their daily lives is not going unnoticed. Gone are the days when meeting planners were most concerned about the number of attendees at their events or meeting venue rates. As consumers and businesses alike become more aware of environmental impact, meeting professionals must champion efforts to support less waste, healthful habits and better experiences for attendees.

Leading meeting professionals recognize that even a modest event can consume significant natural resources, from energy and paper to food and water. They also recognize that using locally sourced food and other supplies can help reduce the impact on the environment – and expense.

Sustainability Initiatives No Longer Just a "Nice-to-Have"

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