I read with interest the news that Eventia http://www.eventia.org.uk/, the event industry trade association, has launched it's "1% Initiative". The Eventia One Future scheme enables members and their clients to reduce and offset carbon emmissions through programmes from The Carbon Consultancy http://www.thecarbonconsultancy.co.uk/ . Eventia Members will be able to make voluntary donations of 1% of the total cost of an event to a UK carbon-offset programme, funding forestry and energy-education projects.

Many agencies are trailing the scheme, but I have to stand up and ask, "Is this really enough?"

Whilst something is better than nothing, enough is still not known about the benefits of off-setting, and this scheme does seem to concentrate on that aspect.

It is our belief at The Conference People that off-setting is a last resort, and more consideration should be give to initially reducing emissions whilst planning a project. Full details of the initiative are still to be released, but lets hope more thought goes into prevention rather than a band-aid approach.

Whilst it appears that many hotels and venues are still not doing enough to tackle environmental issues, there are still a number of basic steps you can take to reduce the carbon footprint of your event:

- All catering plates, cups and glasses to be china or glass (non-disposable). If plastic, they must be washable (biodegradable or compostable is better). NO Styrofoam under any circumstances.

- Condiments to be served in bulk containers, not individual servings, to save packaging. This includes sugar, creamer, butter, cream cheese, etc.

- All napkins to be cloth whenever possible. Use coasters instead of cocktail napkins.

- Separate recycling bins for attendees to use at all catered functions, registration, and especially on the exhibition floor.

- All handouts to be printed on two sides using post-consumer recycled paper, or better still, provide all handouts afterwards online.

- Recycled-content promotional products when deciding on pens, bags, shirts and caps.

- Ask hotels not to change the sheets and towels daily unless requested by the guest.

- Ask hotels not to replace the amenities daily unless they are gone. Use of soap and shampoo dispensers would be optimal.

- Ask hotels’ housekeeping staff to shut blinds and turn down the heat/air conditioning during the day in rooms while attendees are gone.

- Feature information about the facilities’ recycling program for all areas.

- Ensure all leftover food is donated to a local food bank.

- Incentivise delegates to car share or us Public Transport

We have many other ways to help make events as sustainable as possible, and once these are put into practice, then what's leftover can be off-set, but keeping the emissions low in the first place is the only way this industry will play a key part in reducing climate change.

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