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Green Meetings

Meetings are an essential part of each organization’s operations. On any given day, we discuss our work with coworkers, clients, board members and stakeholders. However, are these meetings really efficient? When we think about efficiency in meetings, we often think about time and content, but what about the resources we use to run them? Here are a few tips on how to run better meetings with fewer resources and ultimately make your meetings “green”.

 

Paper reduction:

Meetings often utilize large amounts of printed materials, but let’s face the reality; do participants read all of them? The easiest way to green your meetings is to cut down on printed materials. Distribute documents in electronic form before the meeting for everyone’s review and avoid bringing printed documents to the meeting. Print only what is absolutely necessary and rather opt for projecting the materials on a screen. If you have to print some documents, make sure they are double sided and printed on paper with high-recycled content. After the meeting, make sure that all undistributed documents are properly recycled. It is a good idea to reuse single-sided documents as scrap paper. In addition to saving paper, significant time can be saved when there is no need to print and assemble meeting handout materials. At the first large-scale paperless UNEP meeting, International Ozone Gathering in Doha/Nairobi in 2008, 86% of paper was saved by implementing paperless measures. This represents savings of 5,592 miles (9,000 km) of paper or just over 31 trees.(1)

Waste reduction and recycling:

Larger meetings may consume large amounts of waste in the form of already mentioned printed materials, as well as disposable paper cups, plates and plastic utensils and food leftovers. Try to avoid using disposable items altogether. If this is not possible, consider providing compostable items and make sure these are really composted at the end of their useful life. Avoid the use of bottled water. Provide pitchers of water and consider asking the attendees to bring their own water bottle and/or a coffee mug. Donate leftover food to a local food bank.  The 2002 Forest Leadership Forum in Atlanta, Georgia, USA with its 1,300 participants was able to avoid 80,000 disposable plates, cups, napkins and utensils through its green measures.(2)

Teleconferencing:

As corporations grow bigger and more wide-spread, travel costs grow exponentially. As a result, teleconferencing is an attractive option. Andrew Winston, co-author of the best-seller Green to Gold and author of Green Recovery believes that “telework may be the most underleveraged”(3) of the operational areas with real promise for fast savings. In their report, Carbon Disclosure Project forecasts that the annual net financial benefits from video conferencing technologies to the US economy will rise to over $ 3.5 billion in 2020.(4) Teleconferencing brings clear benefits to companies as well as their employees. It leads to financial savings through avoided travel costs, reduces carbon emissions, saves time by not traveling and thus increases productivity, and finally improves work/life balance for employees who can spend more time with their families.

References:

  1. Green Event Case Study QMDI
  2. UNEP 2009 Green Meeting Guide
  3. Will Videoconferencing Kill Business Class Travel?, Harvard Business Review
  4. Carbon Disclosure Project Study 2010 Telepresence Revolution

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