Have you ever noticed that when you stay in a hotel, even if you give all the right cues during your stay, your towels still get washed every day? Or that the cleaning crew in your office tosses all of the refuse from the trash cans and the recycle bins into the same dumpster?
Nancy Wilson, a fellow planner and green meeting proponent, has posted on her blog an eye-opening anecdote about a convention center’s confession to her that, while they SAY they recycle, they don’t actually recycle.
Sadly, that convention center is not alone. The deceptive practice (intentional or not) of promising environmental friendliness and not delivering on those promises – called greenwashing – is so widespread that green-marketing firm TerraChoice has published a white paper on the six most common sins.
PCMA’s March 2008 issue of Convene has an article reporting that “greenwashing” is one of the very top concerns in our industry.
What can we as planners do to ensure that the promotion matches the practice? Ask questions. Require a demonstration. See for yourself that the recycle bins go into a larger recycling container. Request a follow-up letter from the homeless shelter that was supposed to receive the extra food from your event. Ask the hotel’s general manager why your towels keep getting replaced.
What do you do to ensure that your meeting isn’t the victim of greenwashing?