It appears that green meetings specialist, Judy Kucharuk of Footprint Management Systems, and I are on the same subspace frequency. Her post, Green to the Last Drop: Five Easy Strategies to Reduce Your Water Footprint at Events, discusses some simple ways to reduce water use. I was already working on this post about reducing attendee water use based on my observations while on another planet: The Star Trek Convention.
Okay, I confess. I’m a Trekkie! Not the costume wearing, arguing about star date calculations, speak fluent Klingon level of Trekkie. But I have all the DVDs of the TOS and TNG series (if you’re part of the culture, you’d understand) and watch the reruns… religiously. So when the entire primary cast (save one) of The Next Generation was coming to town, I was all ready to beam up.
Since most of the events I attend are business conferences and trade shows, this was another opportunity to observe just regular folks and how they interact with events. People are people, regardless of whether they’re gathering for business or leisure. And being earth creatures (well, I might have had to question a few), we all need water.
Smartly, during times between show events, The Star Trek Convention provided water stations for people to get a drink sans bottled water. Score one for the planet (whichever one you hail from)! The only issue was the generic plastic cups they provided. Oh no! I spotted only a few recycling containers throughout the facility. So the big garbage bins collected a ton of them. Off to the landfill…
The event and facility missed a great opportunity to promote themselves and preservation of the planet. Let’s look at some ideas they could have instituted:
- Make it so… easy. Please, if you are going to provide water stations and cups, provide an earth-friendly way to dispose of the cups. People will comply if you make it easy for them to do so. This will take coordination between the facility and the event, as well as proper trade show signs to instruct people on what to do.
- Engage… the attendees. Attendee engagement for saving water (or doing anything else) begins before they set foot in the door. Registration confirmations are the ideal opportunity to call out that the event is making efforts to reduce water use and encourage them to B.Y.O.B. (Bring Your Own Bottle). See my Earth Day tips on this site for more on that.
- Resistance is… minimal. So we had a crowd of fantasy/adventure/sci-fi/gamer fans on deck. Many of them are science geeks who totally get the “save the planet” stuff and probably tote around their own reusable bottles. The fantasy/sci-fi types glom on almost any Trek memorabilia. Either side of the crowd would have gone for receiving (and keeping) an official convention water bottle at check-in – ideally made of recycled and recyclable materials – that had the Trek logo and convention name on it. They may have even had some of the Star Trek stars autograph them. With a large imprint space, the bottles could have featured a list of convention dates, locations and contact info. Using the same imprint saves set-up costs. Plus, delivery of the bottles could have been coordinated with the promotional products vendor to deliver direct to each of the year’s events throughout the country. This saves carbon footprint as well since the double delivery scenario (first to event management office, then to event) is eliminated.
About the author
Heidi Thorne is a promotional products marketing expert, author and speaker who has a background in the tradeshow and hospitality industries. She is also editor of the Promo With Purpose Today blog and author of six books including the Eco Friendly Promotional Product Guide available in paperback or for Kindle/mobile devices on Amazon.