Salsa dancing by Lake Zurich, networking high above the city’s rooftops, testing electric vehicles, and taking home a host of practical tips for improving sustainability: the first edition of the Green Mile in Zurich was a stimulating mix of learning, experiencing, and networking.
What Is the Green Mile?
The Green Mile is a trade event for professional event planners from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland who are interested in making their events more sustainable. Over the course of two days, participants have the opportunity to network with industry peers and international suppliers, discover an attractive destination, and experience at first-hand practical ways of creating more sustainable events.
It is no coincidence that the first Green Mile was held in Zurich. With its strong sustainability strategy, the destination has a clear focus on climate-friendly and culturally and socially compatible offers. Its central location, short distances, and excellent public transportation network also play a role in highlighting Zurich as the right address to hold sustainable events.
When planning the Green Mile, the Zurich Convention Bureau adopted a guiding principle that was also presented to participants during a presentation at the event: “Reduce what you can, offset what you can’t”.
The Green Mile is not only an event about sustainability, but at the same time a sustainable event itself.
Travel: 50% of participants traveled to Zurich by train and thus actively contributed to reducing the event’s carbon footprint.
Catering: Two of the menus served to guests during the event were entirely vegetarian. This option is not only more climate-friendly, but also saves money.
Transportation: Participants mainly moved between the various event venues by public transportation or on foot, thanks in part to the short distances in Zurich.
Partner companies: When selecting the hotel, venues, restaurants, and social programs, their commitment to sustainability was always taken into account.
Give-aways: Generally speaking, less is more. Guests were given a Sigg bottle, which they could fill with fresh drinking water at Zurich’s fountains.
Unavoidable emissions were compensated twice over after the Green Mile: both by the Zurich Convention Bureau with a donation to a solar project in Madagascar and by the host organization, MICEboard, with a contribution to a social project in the Netherlands. In addition, the LUX restaurant compensated the evening event inhouse.
Involve guests: Many attendees have a desire to actively contribute to the sustainability ethos of an event and create a lasting benefit for the destination. Ideas for this include collecting trash, helping the homeless, building dry stone walls, or enhancing unattractive sites.
Arrival by train: The effort involved in organizing the arrival of guests by train, as well as possible incentives, should not be underestimated. Resources for this need to be well planned.
Deceleration: Some of the participants would have liked a little more time to explore the city on their own. It is worth deliberately leaving gaps in the program to allow guests to make their own discoveries or take additional breaks.
If flying, then doing it right: Air travel can also be optimized in terms of climate friendliness. For example, by means of direct connections, by opting for flights with newer, lower-emission aircraft, or by offsetting the CO2 emissions generated. Staying longer is beneficial, too. Combining business trips with private vacations can reduce ones total amount of flights.
Sensible giveaways: The reusable drinking bottles as a useful souvenir of Zurich went down very well with participants. Guests already used them during the event, thus actively contributing to waste prevention.