Going green is no longer just for hippies and Whole Foods fans. Companies across the Fortune 500 spectrum are instituting green travel policies and initiatives not only for their public relations, but for their bottom line as well. And for companies with lots of frequent employee travelers, ecological conservation adds up every financial quarter.

In addition, many corporate meeting planners are also taking the environmental sustainability of their company’s events into deeper consideration. Green meetings not only help reduce a company’s impact on the environment, but can also help dramatically lower the cost of events. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) there are numerous ways to implement sustainable employee travel and plan greener events. The EPA’s suggestions are simple, easy to implement, and best of all, can make a big difference in protecting the planet and your company’s profit margin.

 

Purchase Carbon Offsets: Air travel accounts for 2.5% of greenhouse gas emissions. This may seem small, but for frequent-flyers, air travel is a significant slice of an individual’s contribution to climate change. When walking, biking, public transportation, hybrid cars and rail travel aren’t an option, consider authorizing your employees to purchase carbon offsets or making it a company-wide initiative. Carbon offsets fund a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions roughly equal to output, counterbalancing the effects of air travel. Companies like TerraPass make it possible for you to calculate your carbon footprint related to air travel, driving and purchase carbon offsets accordingly.

Choose Smarter Flights: Flying during the day is thought to be more eco-friendly because an airplane’s contrails reflect sunlight, limiting the amount of warming caused by emissions. Other air tips include: flying nonstop, taking economy class (which generally allows more people per plane, which means fewer emissions per person) and consolidating trips that are geographically close together. Consider booking flights with airlines that have been recognized for their sustainable business practices. In a report by the independent rating system Greenopia, Virgin America was declared the most environmentally friendly airline in the United States and Lufthansa ranked first in Europe.

Book Eco-friendly Hotels: More hotels are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprints. Consider encouraging employees to seek out hotels that are either Green Seal of LEED Certified. These venues choose to help the environment by using flow-restrictive shower heads, low flow toilets, energy efficient lighting and linen programs that reduce waste and help on their maintenance costs. When staying at these places, guests not only get the satisfaction of traveling green, but also enjoy perks like organic bath products, free hybrid parking and bicycle rentals.

Host Greener Meetings: You may think hosting an eco-friendly event is complicated and costly, but in actuality, it’s the contrary. Simple steps like selecting eco-friendly hotels and suppliers, choosing a central location to limit transportation needs, minimizing paper with web-based materials, providing snacks with locally-sourced ingredients and even serving distilled instead of bottled water can go a long way in making your meetings more sustainable.

Promote Volunteerism: Paid volunteer work is an increasingly popular benefit offered by Microsoft, Timberland and Price Waterhouse Coopers to name a few. Offer your employees the opportunity to give back on company time. Environmental projects are available to professionals in a variety of areas including: reforestation, sustainable farming, biodiversity, ecosystem preservation, national park development, botanical research and even cleaning up pollution. Corporate volunteering is obviously not a new concept, but it is one that is getting popular. According to a recent study from United Health Group, 78% of people who volunteered in the last year reported lower stress levels and 76% said that volunteering made them feel healthier. Most interesting? A whopping four out of five of respondents said they feel better about their employer as a result of their work-sponsored volunteer activities.