It’s no secret that sustainability is a much-talked-about topic in the meetings and events industry. It’s also a well-known fact that in Madison, we’ve always been the kind of people who prefer to do something about it. 

Sustainability has always been part of Madison’s DNA. We were the first city in the country to offer a curbside recycling program in 1968. Our convention center, Monona Terrace, is Platinum LEED-Certified — in fact, it exceeds many LEED benchmarks. And Gaylord Nelson had deep roots in Madison’s political and environmental landscape before becoming a U.S. Senator where he founded the first official Earth Day in 1970. 

It’s why we like to consider Earth Day our holiday. This year, we celebrated by launching a voluntourism portal that connects planners and attendees with even more opportunities to plan green meetings. Our goal? Give you an excuse to stay one more day — and while you’re at it, leave the planet better than you found it. 


OFFSET TRAVEL WITH ALWAYS-ON OPPORTUNITIES 

Our voluntourism portal allows you to put carbon offset calculators aside — and spend time outside! All are “no training needed” opportunities and most occur daily. From lake, park and prairie restoration to tending food pantry gardens and helping out at our famous farmers’ market, it’s easy to find a match for your interests and travel schedule. Plan ahead and check back often as new opportunities are being added all the time.  

Coming soon: a chance to volunteer at IRONMAN Wisconsin, which spotlights some of our best natural assets: Lake Monona, Lake Mendota and our bike paths. 


CREATE CUSTOM VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES 

Want to work voluntourism into your official meeting agenda? Even better! One of the ways Destination Madison’s event services team exceeds planner and attendee wish lists is by customizing group opportunities. “We’ve coordinated itineraries for waterfront cleanup and created connections with nonprofits that support social sustainability,” says Amber Wiza, Director of Destination Services. “But the opportunities are endless. We’re delighted to have help preserving the natural beauty in our capital city.” 

Plan now: Contact Amber Wiza to customize an activity or event that’s most meaningful to your group. 


MORE SUSTAINABLE WAYS TO SPEND AN EXTRA DAY 

In Madison, we’re always advocates for balancing work and play. So we’ve curated a list of sustainable activities to add to your personal itinerary, whether you plan to come early or stay one more day: 

  • See Madison by Bike. Sign up to access maps for four different rides — choose the one that matches your vibe. No bike? No problem. Madison’s e-bike rental program has 500+ bikes at 90 stations throughout the city, so it’s easy to explore our parks and paths. 

  • Take the Monona Terrace Tour. In addition to being a busy convention center, this Frank Lloyd Wright-designed masterpiece hosts community events and tours that honor Wright’s legacy of organic architecture. Tours are just $5 and are offered Thursday through Saturday at 1 p.m. 

  • Explore Olbrich Botanical Gardens. This 16-acre oasis of sprawling gardens and hidden treasures is a Madison must-do. And it’s a perfect add-on if you’re already here to volunteer! Take a guided tour or stroll freely through its 14 gardens  — or, if you’re feeling adventurous, paddle your way through the gorgeous grounds on Starkweather Creek with help from Rutabaga rentals.   

  • Shop, sip and savor sustainably. Madison’s green scene means you can thrift the day away in resale shops, eat and drink at places that direct a percentage of proceeds to nonprofits, or shop for travel-size, zero-waste personal care items to take home with you. For a guided tour of sustainably-focused cocktail spots, check out our Madison on Tap craft beverage trail.