Guidelines For A Sustainable Convention

Farm & Co lunch bowl, Cudgen NSW. Photo: Louise Southerden


Although sustainability has been a feature of ASTW Conventions for several years, the ASTW stepped up its commitment at the 2019 AGM & Awards Convention in Cairns, our most sustainable convention yet. Following are nine key initiatives we implemented there:

  1. Pre-trip checklist – Delegates were asked to bring their own: reusable water bottles, coffee cups, lanyards, notebooks and pens, and toiletries (unless rooms at host hotels had refillable bottles).
  2. No plastic, please – Sponsors and PR members were asked not to give delegates any plastic items, plastic-wrapped items or plastic bags, or anything else likely to end up as landfill, as promotional gifts. Local produce and biodegradable gifts were suggested as alternatives.
  3. Spreading the word – Delegates were encouraged to promote the sustainability initiatives of our hosts on social media, including tour operators and regional tourism organisations on pre- and post-AGM famils, and to share “sustainability hacks” for reducing their own impact at the convention.
  4. Site visit – Selection of a host venue or venues is always key to ensuring an event can run sustainably; for this reason, the ASTW Secretariat did a site inspection well before the Cairns event to assess the hotel’s sustainability capabilities and credentials.
  5. Plastic-free events – We worked with our hosts to make all the events within the convention – including meetings, workshops, the welcome function and dinners – as plastic-free as possible. Suggestions for Cairns included: providing water jugs and glassware in conference rooms; avoiding single-use coffee cups, plates and cutlery; and not supplying mints or other plastic-wrapped snacks on conference tables or in hotel rooms.
  6. We encouraged dining venues hosting us to offer plant-based menu options and where possible to provide food that is local, seasonal and/or organic.
  7. Green family – We urged event partners to apply a plastic-free and zero-waste ethos to pre- and post-convention famils and activities.
  8. Give back – We looked for ways the convention could benefit local communities, in addition to our annual donation (see How the ASTW gives back) such as by using locally made products or locally grown foods.
  9. Seek feedback – Members were asked for their post-convention feedback on how sustainable the 2019 ASTW Convention in Cairns was and how we can do better next time.