10 Ways To Plan A Sustainable Maine Meeting

10 Ways To Plan A Sustainable Maine Meeting

how to plan a sustainable meeting in 2024

Maine Green Hotels + Sustainable Practices

Meeting and conference planners are increasingly prioritizing eco-conscious practices to minimize environmental impact while maximizing the effectiveness of their events. Maine, known for its stunning scenery and commitment to green initiatives, provides an idyllic setting for hosting environmentally-friendly gatherings. What better place to bring your next sustainability centered event?

Below, discover ten strategies for a sustainable meeting in this picturesque coastal city and its charming area towns.

View from Surf's Inn Ogunquit Beach, Photo Credit: PGM Photography

1 | Choose a Venue with Sustainable Practices

Portland Cityscape Drone at Night, Photography by Peter G. Morneau
Portland Cityscape Drone at Night, Photography by Peter G. Morneau

Selecting a Maine venue with strong sustainability practices is the first step in planning a green meeting in Maine. Greater Portland offers several eco-friendly venues that have implemented measures to reduce their environmental impact. Some properties have completed their Green Lodging Certification for energy efficiency, food and beverage management, and use of environmentally friendly products.

More and more hotels have employed reusable products, recycling programs, and green cleaning products – another thing to look for when planning a sustainable event. When working with your local Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, like us at Visit Portland, you can reach out for recommendations or request we include sustainability requirements in your request for proposal. Or just start by exploring the variety of hotels, resorts, and inns available in our region for meetings and events. Start here.

2 | Prioritize Local and Organic Catering

Gritty's Lobster Bake. Photo Courtesy of Visit Freeport
Gritty’s Lobster Bake. Photo Courtesy of Visit Freeport

When planning your event it’s easy to opt-in to local, organic, and seasonal ingredients. Greater Portland’s vibrant foodie scene is renowned for farm-to-table restaurants and sustainable seafood. Partner with caterers who focus on sourcing ingredients from local farms and fisheries. Not only does this reduce your event’s carbon footprint, but supports the local economy and provides attendees with fresh, flavorful meals.

Other ways you can work with local caterers on sustainability is asking about limiting single-use plastics for cutlery and goods as well as opting out of water bottles. Also, you can inquire after any of the businesses’ energy efficient equipment. Using energy-efficient appliances like convection ovens and induction cookers will reduce environmental impact. Start here.

3 | Reduce Waste + Promote Recycling

Fore River Sportfishing cruising on water, Photo Credit: PGM Photography
Fore River Sportfishing cruising on water, Photo Credit: PGM Photography

Minimizing waste is a key aspect of sustainable event planning. Start by choosing reusable or compostable products instead of single-use. Instead of plastic water bottles you can offer refillable water stations. Encourage guests to bring their own reusable water bottles – or gift them one in their welcome bag .

Additionally, set up clearly-marked recycling and composting bins to ensure proper waste disposal. Setting these stations up early and making announcements on how to properly utilize the services will all lessen the amount of environmental impact your meeting or conference makes. Start here.

4 | Use Digital Communication

Woman Scrolling on Phone, Photo Credit: Focus Photography
Woman Scrolling on Phone, Photo Credit: Focus Photography

Reduce paper waste by utilizing digital communication methods for your meeting. Instead of printed invitations and programs, use email, websites, and mobile apps to distribute information. Create online QR codes and add them to presentations, so guests can follow along or find resources easily.

Event apps can provide schedules, speaker bios, maps, and other essential details, reducing the need for printed materials. Portland-based tech companies like Headlight AV can help develop and manage digital on-site solutions. Start here.

Headlight Audio Visual, Inc.

Full service audio, visual, and video production company providing solutions to clients across the United States.

5 | Offer Sustainable Transportation Options

Encourage attendees to use sustainable transportation options. Portland is a compact, walkable city with many hotels and venues located within close proximity. Promote walking, biking, and public transportation as convenient and eco-friendly ways to get around. The METRO bus system and Amtrak’s Downeaster train service offer reliable and green transportation options. For longer distances, consider arranging group shuttles or partnering with car-sharing services. Start here.

6 | Integrate Outdoor Activities

Paddle board duo. Photo credit: Lone Spruce Creative, courtesy of Maine Office of Tourism
SUP Paddleboarding. Photo credit: Lone Spruce Creative,
courtesy of Maine Office of Tourism

Incorporate eco-friendly activities into your meeting agenda to engage attendees in sustainability practices. Organize team-building exercises that focus on environmental conservation, such as beach cleanups or tree planting activities. Or just break-up the break-out sessions with some yoga stretches in the great outdoors or paddling out on East End Beach. Start here.

Ashley Flowers Yoga

Plan an unforgettable outing that supports the health and well-being of your group and gets everybody outside to experience the beauty of Maine! 

Portland Paddle

Sea kayak and stand-up paddleboard tours, rentals and lessons at the East End Beach on Portland’s waterfront.

7 | Provide Eco-Conscious Swag

Visit Portland custom Sea Bags, Photo Credit: Lauren Peters at Visit Portland
Visit Portland custom Sea Bags, Photo Credit: Lauren Peters at Visit Portland

If you’re planning to give attendees welcome bags or gifts, choose eco-friendly items that align with your sustainability goals. Consider practical items or products from local artisans or businesses that prioritize sustainable practices. For example, Sea Bags utilizes returned sails in all their bags. Creating durable and beautifully designed bags and accessories from recycled materials.

How about offering-up an an Amenity Bar? Enable guests to choose their own welcome gift from a selection of local products. This personalized approach reduces waste by providing items guests will truly appreciate and use. Additionally, by featuring locally sourced goods, we support regional businesses and give our guests a taste of the local culture, enhancing their overall experience. This initiative not only promotes sustainability but also creates a more memorable and customized stay for each guest. Start here.

8 | Educate and Inspire Attendees

Working Waterfront, Photo Credit: Peter G. Morneau
Working Waterfront, Photo Credit: Peter G. Morneau

Finally, use your meeting as an opportunity to educate and inspire attendees about sustainability. Include sessions or workshops on green practices and how they can be implemented in their own businesses or events. Invite local environmental experts or representatives from sustainable businesses to speak. By promoting sustainability, you encourage attendees to carry these values forward, amplifying the impact of your efforts. Our team can help you make these local connections. Start here.

9 | Work with your local CVB for recommendations

Portland Skyline, Photo Credits: Peter Morneau Photography
Portland Skyline, Photo Credits: Peter Morneau Photography

Visit Portland is the only Convention and Visitors Bureau in Maine. We know what’s new and exciting better than anyone. Our team has their finger on the pulse of new community and city initiatives as well as what sustainable projects our partners are working on. Whether you’re planning a board meeting, conference, family/military reunion, or small town takeover, we provide insider knowledge and exclusive access to the best Greater Portland has to offer.

From hidden gems and local festivals to eco-friendly accommodations and green events, we ensure your guests experience in Greater Portland is unforgettable as well as environmentally conscious. Services are free to meeting planners, so check out what we can offer for local recommendations to get your event planning process started. Start here.

10 | Measure and Report

National Governor’s Association, Ian Wagreich Photography
National Governor’s Association, Ian Wagreich Photography

Finally, data is indispensable. If hosting environmentally-forward events and conferences is important to you and your business to continue to build, we encourage you to measure the environmental impact of your meeting and report the results. Use metrics to track the energy use you saved by using the initiatives above. Measure how much waste was composted and recycled instead of sent to a landfill. Go over the transportation emissions saved by walking, biking, or using public transport.

Sharing these metrics with your attendees (along with stakeholders) not only demonstrates your commitment to transparency, but helps inspire further action. Share the strides you’ve made along the way in making this event or conference more sustainably sound to encourage others to join in on these practices.

Cityscape of wharfs, Photo Credits: Peter Morneau Photography
Cityscape of wharfs, Photo Credits: Peter Morneau Photography

If you’re interested in diving deeper into the world of sustainable event practices and not sure where to start,
reach out to our team for more ideas.