From choosing a conference venue that uses renewable energy, to reducing food miles by championing local producers on the menu, there are many ways to reduce the carbon footprint of your conference.
It's easy to get carried away when planning conferences, but corporate events can be wasteful affairs if you don't make conscious choices along the way. Thankfully, there are many easy ways to make your conference or other corporate event more sustainable, without sacrificing on style or comfort.
These ten eco-friendly ideas will lessen your impact on the planet (and might just save you time and money too):
1. Choose one location
Eliminate the need to travel between locations by choosing a conference venue that can do it all.
With your accommodation, activities and more formal presentations all happening in the same place, you can reduce the amount of carbon emitting into the atmosphere while transferring guests between locations (you'll save time and money on transport costs too).
RACV Cape Schanck
2. Select an energy-wise venue
Having your conference at a venue that uses renewable energy is an easy way to make your conference more sustainable.
Did you know that RACV Healesville Country Club has recently installed a new 372kw solar power system that will reduce the venue's carbon emissions by 30 per cent?
RACV is also committed to installing solar power systems across its other resort and conference venues as the year unfolds.
3. Go native
Organising floral decorations for your End of Financial Year get-together or annual Christmas party? Be sure to ask the florist where their blooms are sourced from.
Many people are surprised to find out that Australian florists import flowers from Asia, Africa and beyond.
An easy way to reduce the carbon footprint of your flower arrangements (and support Australian flower farmers at the same time) is to use locally-grown blooms, or even better, choose native varieties such as everlasting daisies, bottlebrush, waratah, wattle, and banksia.
The spectacular gazebo at RACV Healesville Country Club
4. Choose paperless options
Instead of wasting paper on printed invitations to corporate events, choose digital invitations instead.
There are many websites that allow you to create personalised, interactive, digital invites that allow you to track RSVPs with ease.
You'll save on printing and postage costs too! Instead of handing out printed brochures, documents and flyers at your event, make information downloadable on your website instead.
5. Be water wise
With much of Australia currently in drought, water is a precious resource not to be wasted.
Choosing a conference venue that collects and reuses rainwater is a good way to support sustainable practices.
For example, rainwater at RACV Cape Schanck Resort is collected in a 100,000 litre tank, and is then repurposed for irrigation and waste water. Every drop counts!
The Spring Creek Terrace at RACV Torquay Resort
6. Limit food waste
It's estimated that each year in Australia, more than five million tonnes of food ends up decomposing in landfill, emitting harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Limit food wastage at your next conference by carefully planning menus based on attendance numbers.
It's often tempting to over-cater, but seek advice from the venue's caterers before ordering to limit the amount of food that gets binned at the end of the conference.
Even better, choosing a venue that composts its food waste will considerably reduce your conference's carbon footprint.
RACV Cape Schanck Resort has a worm farm and compost system, which reduces the amount of food waste ending up in landfill.
Dining under the gazebo at RACV Healesville Country Club
7. Give green gifts
If you want to give your conference attendees, keynote speakers or special guests a gift, opt to give them small potted plants such as cacti or succulents, or travel-friendly biodegradable seed packets if you have guests coming from near and far.
A living gift that they can plant at home and enjoy for years to come is a much greener option than a plastic, single-use item that will probably end up in landfill.
8. Champion local producers
When it comes to your catering and dinner menu, choose locally-sourced ingredients and brands.
Forget French wine and imported beer, choose Australian winemakers and beer brewers.
Ask the chef or caterer where they source their meat, cheese and fresh ingredients from, and make it known that you're keen to incorporate as many local producers as possible into the menu.
From sourcing local cheeses to curating wine lists packed with the region's best producers, RACV Resorts are known for showcasing Australia's growers, cheesemakers, winemakers, brewers, and distillers.
The incredible view from the Spring Creek Terrace at RACV Torquay Resort
9. Say no to plastic bottles, plastic bags and disposable coffee cups
Encourage conference guests to bring their own refillable water bottle and reusable coffee cups.
Offering filtered water instead of plastic, bottled water will reduce the amount of plastic ending up in landfill by the end of your conference.
Instead of handing out conference gifts or items in plastic bags, gift attendees a reusable cotton tote bag they can keep using for years to come.
Indulge in a spot of yoga at RACV Healesville Country Club
10. Support good causes
If you're planning team building activities, then getting conference delegates involved with a local environmental charity or Landcare group is a great way to get everyone together in the name of sustainability.
Whether it's a morning of tree planting, or an afternoon of collecting rubbish in a national park or nature reserve, your conference can have a positive impact on the planet.
Looking for an energy-efficient conference venue? From solar power to rainwater tanks, these venues have energy and water-saving measures in place.
This article was written in partnership with RACV.
Business News Australia