Putting Green Deeds in Writing

How to incorporate eco-friendly requirements into your meeting contracts

Agreement, entered into this [day] day of [month], [year], by and between [insert name and address of event sponsor, which is the ORGANIZATION] and [insert name and address of charity or food recipient, which is the CHARITY].

ORGANIZATION desires to donate food and nonalcoholic beverages not utilized at its meetings and other gatherings to CHARITY.
    CHARITY desires to receive donations of food and nonalcoholic beverages not utulized by ORGANIZATION for distribution by CHARITY.

In consideration of the donation of food and nonalcoholic beverages made to it by ORGANIZATION, CHARITY shall, to the extent not otherwise provided by the law of the State, indemnify, defend and hold harmless ORGANIZATION, its officers, directors, employees, agents and members, and each of them, from and against any and all loss, damage, claim, liability, injury, illness or death, including costs of defense, caused by or arising from ORGANIZATION's donation of food and nonalcoholic beverages to CHARITY.

[insert name of ORGANIZATION]
By [signature]
Its [title]

[insert name of CHARITY]
By [signature]
Its [title]

While Kermit the Frog said, “It’s not easy being green,” concern for the environment is entering the planning process, and many meeting professionals are finding it’s worth the effort.


Before considering what to ask a hotel or facility to provide in order to meet your green objectives, you should first examine the venue’s recycling and reuse policies, and explore the environmental laws of the state and city you will be visiting.

Does the facility own recycling bins for the various types of trash (cans, bottles, mixed paper, newspaper, plastic)? Other issues to address even before getting anything in writing would include linen reuse policies at hotels, efficient use of transportation and donations of leftover food items.

If you want to help your events go green, visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Planning Environmentally Aware Events” page at www.epa.gov. The article outlines approaches you can take to implement environmentally friendly practices.

When you have a green-meetings policy in place, be sure to indicate your specific requirements in any requests for proposals you submit, and address these needs thoroughly during site visits.

Going to contract

When working out agreement details with a hotel, an outside venue or a service provider, spell out what its capabilities are and what the responsibilities of both your group and the provider will be.

Cans, bottles, glass and plastic. If the property already owns small recycling bins, require that they be placed in all rooms and agree on how sorting will occur. If the property doesn’t have the bins, explore ways to provide them: Either your organization or one of your members or suppliers might want to sponsor the cost of buying in-room recycling bins that the hotel can keep and reuse after your group is gone. (Don’t forget to let the local media know your organization or a sponsoring member provided the bins.)

Newspapers. Spell out how newspaper delivery and recycling should be handled. If every attendee will get a copy of USA Today or the local newspaper in the morning, have the hotel agree to separate these papers from other trash and recycle them.

Energy. Many properties tell housekeeping to turn on lights and televisions or radios during turndown to make guests feel welcome when they get back to their rooms. To save on electricity, require all these appliances and lamps be turned off whenever housekeeping leaves any room.

For meeting rooms, require that lights and air conditioning be turned off whenever rooms will be unoccupied. Turn on air conditioning or heat 45 minutes before a program starts.

Transportation. Idling buses not only contribute to pollution, they also can make loading areas rather smelly places to stand. Specify in writing that buses should have their engines off in staging areas.

Food issues

Hardly any group of attendees is going to finish every piece of chicken or plate of cheese prepared for their banquet or reception. Unused food can be donated virtually liability-free, thanks to the 1996 Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. Even so, it is a good idea to include a hold-harmless and indemnity clause to the contracts between you, the facility donating the food, the caterer and your chosen food pantry. A sample clause is available at right.

Don’t forget to tell your attendees about your efforts on behalf of the environment; this can be done via e-mail.