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| Written by Jill Pearson

Steps to Sustainable Events: 2023 M&IW Summit

Sustainability has always been important to M&IW. Earlier this year, we named our first-ever Sustainability Champion, Donna Collins, and in April, we shared sustainability best practices throughout the event management timeline. For our signature event, the 2023 M&IW Summit, we continued this commitment to environmental responsibility.

Sustainable practices should not be an afterthought but something that is considered throughout the planning process and incorporated into every facet of the event. Now, we’re sharing some of the steps we took to create a greener event and leave a positive impact on our planet.

Event Emissions Management

Emissions Tracking

The 2023 M&IW Summit was planned with sustainability in mind. One of our biggest new initiatives was tracking and managing the travel emissions of attendees, including customers, suppliers, and employees, as well as hotel emissions. This level of tracking can be complicated, but we used our new travel calculator tool to measure emissions accurately and efficiently.

The travel calculator is now available for any meeting or event. Onsite at the Summit, customers and employees in attendance had the opportunity to learn more about it during the Summit Walk at the M&IW Sustainability booth. There, M&IW Sustainability Champion Donna Collins and one of our sustainability partners, Purpose Net Zero’s Marley Finnegan, discussed the new tool and shared how to implement proven best practices to reduce the environmental impact of their events

To learn more about measuring, managing, and removing event emissions, watch our on-demand recording of Marley’s Pre-Summit Event Series webinar, How to Tackle Up To 90% of Event Emissions.

Donna Collins and Marley Finnegan talk to attendees at the Sustainability table at the 2023 M&IW Summit

Carbon Offsetting

After the M&IW Summit was over and all emissions calculated, it was time for the next step: carbon offsetting. Carbon offsets are “tradeable ‘rights’ or certificates linked to activities that lower the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere… The certificates offset the buyer’s CO2 emissions with an equal amount of CO2 reductions somewhere else.”1

Because of our past Global Giveback initiative supporting Rwanda, we chose a carbon offsetting project based there once again. We purchased 208 Verified Emission Reductions supporting the Ibanda-Makera Cookstove Project, saving 208 metric tons of CO2 emissions from being released into the atmosphere. Thank you to our M&IW Summit sustainability sponsor, Eventures Unlimited, for making this purchase possible.

About the Ibanda-Makera Cookstove Project

The Gold Standard-certified cookstove project provides fuel-efficient cookstoves to rural Rwandan households. This reduces the amount of firewood burnt, meaning there is less smoke and air pollution and fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Other project benefits include:

  • Increased employment opportunities. The improved cookstoves are produced locally, and the women who would otherwise be collecting firewood can participate in other income-generating activities like weaving.
  • Access to affordable and clean energy for over 60,000 families from low-income households.
  • Conservation of the Ibanda-Makera Gallery Forest. Not only is less firewood being collected, but over 110,000 indigenous trees have been planted and a recognized forest border was established.
  • Support for the local primary school, including 100 new table-chair combinations manufactured by local carpenters.
Photos of Rwandans making and carrying fuel-efficient cookstoves

Sustainable Food & Beverage at Events

As many event planners know, sustainable food and beverage choices begin before a meal is even served. As a starting point, the M&IW Summit planning team requested composting and recycling throughout the event.

The menus themselves focused on wellness and sustainability, focusing primarily on locally sourced whole foods. Red meat was not offered at most meals because meat production significantly contributes to the release of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide.2 Avoiding its mass consumption at events can lower the environmental impact of an event.

Outside of meals, we opted to provide attendees with reusable water bottles supplied by one of our sponsors, It’s All Wrapped Up. Water stations were available in each meeting room to refill these bottles. Because 86% of disposable water bottles used in the United States become garbage or litter, adding 38 billion bottles to landfills,3 we purposely chose to provide these reusable bottles to replace the need for single-use plastic bottles.

Left: A place setting at the Customer Wellness Lunch. Right: M&IW employees "cheers" their reusable water bottles.

Environmentally Friendly Printing

Event Signage

Our Flow Sr. Manager, Danielle Omega, maintained M&IW’s commitment to sustainability throughout the printing process. We are selective in our signage usage, only printing what is necessary and prioritizing reusable items when possible.

We also ensure our supplier partners share our values. For example, our M&IW Summit printing sponsor, FedEx, used Cougar® Uncoated Cover and Text Weight stock for many of our print items. This paper stock has the following sustainable qualities:

  • It is made of a minimum of 10% post-consumable waste material (typically newspapers).
  • Uncoated stock takes less time and electricity to produce than coated stock.
  • It is easier to recycle and uses less gas emissions when recycling.

Attendee Name Badges and Lanyards

There are several ways badges and lanyards can be eco-friendly. We would like to thank our M&IW Summit sponsor pc/nametag for helping us find the right solution for our event. The name badges were made of recycled plastic and could be recycled themselves once the plastic pouch was removed. The lanyards were made from post-consumer recycled materials.

We also used Cvent OnArrival to print all name badges. OnArrival allows for on-demand printing onsite instead of requiring pre-event printing. This allows attendees to check that their name and title is correct before printing, reducing the number of reprints and saving paper.

Left: Attendees arrive at the 2023 M&IW Summit registration desk. Center: First-person perspective of an M&IW employee handing an attendee their name badge. Right: Side view of an M&IW employee handing an attendee their name badge.

Sponsor Sustainability

Encouraging Eco-friendly Choices

Sustainability is a collaborative effort, and we ensured sponsors and other event partners knew about our commitment to environmentally friendly practices for the M&IW Summit. By sharing our knowledge and expectations, they in turn were more mindful of their own efforts and how they can be more sustainable.

We also made specific requests to guide them toward sustainable choices. For example, sponsors and exhibitors participating in the Supplier Showcase were asked to make their tradeshow table display as sustainable as possible. Examples of this include choosing reusable materials and décor and sharing information via digital displays instead of printed handouts. Many sponsors had a scannable QR code so attendees could view the information directly on their device, which is both more convenient and more sustainable than printed materials.

Purposeful Partnerships

Just as we were intentional in partnering with Purpose Net Zero for our carbon emissions tracking and with FedEx for our printing, our other event partners shared our same values and dedication to sustainable practices.

For example, our event technology partner, Stamm Media, has a company sustainability policy covering everything from recycling waste materials and eliminating the usage of paper to only using LED lights in their office and donating outdated technical equipment. Similarly, our event production partner, Encore, prioritizes Energy Star-certified equipment and rechargeable batteries. They’re also in the process of reviewing baseline and benchmarking data to set meaningful emissions, energy, and waste reduction targets.

What’s Next?

Now that we have established sustainability best practices, we plan to continue implementing and improving upon them for the 2024 M&IW Summit. We are also ready to help make your meetings, events, and incentives more environmentally friendly.

Contact us to learn how we can partner with you for greener events.

Already an M&IW customer? Contact your Customer Success Manager for more information.


Headshot of Jill Pearson

Jill Pearson

Manager, Digital Marketing & Media

Meetings & Incentives Worldwide, Inc.

Headshot of Donna Collins

Donna Collins

Sustainability Champion

Meetings & Incentives Worldwide, Inc.


1 MIT Climate Portal

2 Our World in Data

3 Office H20