August 2011

10 tips for green meeting travel

 Ways to save time and money and lower your environmental footprint when traveling. 

An increasingly important trend in the travel industry is the concept of going green, being more eco-friendly and implementing sustainable practices and standards. Whether you travel for work or leisure, the tips below are easy, can save you time and money, and will reduce your environmental footprint.

1. Unplug before you leave. When you are packing your bags, don’t forget to close down the house. Some ideas include turning off and unplugging electronics, turning down the thermostat and turning off the water. If you are gone for an extended time, you also should put a hold on your daily newspaper delivery.

2. Check in electronically. Save time, money and paper by checking in for your flight online before you leave. Most airlines allow you to check in up to 24 hours before your flight. This saves time at the airport, and, if you are checking bags, you often get a reduced baggage fee when you prepay during your online check in. If you have a smartphone or other mobile device, you can store your boarding pass electronically and avoid printing a paper version.

3. Pack a travel mug or water bottle. Coffee is a must have for meetings. Consider bringing a reusable coffee mug or water bottle on your next trip. Not only will you be reducing the amount of trash produced, but coffee stays warmer longer in your insulated mug, and you often can receive a discount on your coffee by supplying your reusable container.

4. Share a ride. If the meeting you attend offers a shuttle service, consider signing up to share a ride rather than renting a car. If you are taking a taxi to the meeting, consider sharing rides with new colleagues you met who are going to the airport.

5. Just say "no" to daily cleaning service. Many hotels now have signs or cards that you can place on your door or pillow to indicate that you do not need new linens or towels. Most of us probably do not change our bed linens at home every day, so why do it at a hotel?

6. Explore on foot. At many large meetings, complimentary shuttles run throughout the day to bring participants from hotels to the meeting convention centers or hotels. Although it’s tempting to hop on the shuttle, lace up your shoes and walk to the meeting. Meetings often start early and end late, but nothing is more refreshing than taking a short break at lunch or in the evening to explore the city on foot. It also is the best way to browse the various menus to pick a restaurant or find a coffee shop for the morning.

7. Bring a digital camera. Want to bring home a souvenir from the meeting? All you need is a digital camera and a few rechargeable batteries and you are ready to collect images to share with friends and family. An email with photos or an e-postcard is a fun way to stay in touch with family and friends while on travel.

8. Recycle your name badge. Before you leave the meeting, return your name badge to the meeting organizers. The paper can be recycled, and badge holders that are in good condition can be repurposed for future meetings.

9. Paperless meetings. Paperless meetings are controversial, because, for many, having a printed meeting program to read is a valuable resource. Beyond the program, meetings usually are flush with handouts, brochures and product information. The best way to reduce paper use is to pick up less paper. When you visit booths or literature tables at your next meeting, ask if they can provide information on a portable drive or give you a business card with a web address at which information can be found. If you have a smartphone, snap a photo of the QR code so you can look at more information later.

10. Provide feedback. The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology sends out electronic surveys after each of our meetings to evaluate and improve the meeting experience for our current and future members. If there are changes that you would like to see, mention your observations and green ideas in a meeting survey.

Jlynn J. Frazier ( is the ASBMB conference manager.

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