Go Green by Going Paperless

Here’s how to pull off a paperless event

Going green isn’t just a trend in the meeting planning industry—it’s the way of the future. Although switching to more sustainable practices can feel intimidating, it’s easy to start small by going paperless.  

Depending on the event, it might not seem possible at first to cut down on paper products. But besides being eco-friendly, paperless meetings bring along other benefits, too, such as increased security measures for personal information and higher remote attendee participation.

Here’s how to get started:

1. Determine where your meeting is using paper products.

The first step in going paperless is sitting down and figuring out where exactly paper is used. Invitations, tickets, event reminders, flyers and promotional materials all leave an obvious paper trail, but things like delivery boxes, napkins, name tags and even billing receipts create paper waste, too. Take inventory of your paper products first so you can strategize how to replace them.

2. Make it digital.

The easiest way to get around paper is to make as much of your meeting as electronic as you can. In lieu of paper, consider digital transactions for:

  • Sending invitations and event communication
  • Hosting online registrations
  • Offering digital tickets to meeting sessions
  • Online business cards and networking resources

3. Package your meeting in an app.

It’s one thing to turn a meeting digital, and it’s another to rely on various platforms and software to actually pull it all off. Instead of juggling multiple tech tools, consider packaging all elements of your meeting in an app.

For planners, Marriott’s Meeting Services app (offered at participating hotels only) keeps all of your organizational and logistical planning tools in one place. The app is a planning platform that digitizes all planning tasks, including billing, so that you can manage your meeting at your fingertips, paper-free.

4. Let attendees know you’re going green.

Another way to eliminate your paper trail: Let attendees know prior to the event (digitally, of course!) about your paperless initiative, and invite them to participate by using alternative methods to paper while at the meeting. For meetings that include informational sessions, for example, this might mean swapping traditional pen and paper for a laptop for digital note taking, or making presentations and resources available online after the event. 

To help guests along in your paperless promise, you can also set up tech stations throughout the event space for attendees to interact online and in real time—just make sure to load the devices with any pertinent apps, polling software or networking platforms beforehand for easy guest access.

5. Talk to your vendors.

Not all vendors operate using sustainable practices, so talk with your partners about your meeting’s paperless initiative and how they, too, can get involved. For example, with food vendors, paper napkins and dishware can easily be replaced with washable, cotton napkins or reusable place settings. Or, for sponsors who might want to distribute promotional materials, consider creating a mobile or digital advertising strategy within your meeting app fit for the needs of each sponsor.

6. Find alternative, Earth-friendly options.

If your event can’t forgo paper, think about ways you can use it—minimally—while still being environmentally conscious. Use recycled paper in instances where you can’t avoid it, and scatter recycling bins around the event space to encourage guests to do their part when they are finished with the meeting materials.