Environmentally Friendly Council or Community Meetings

Whether you are hosting a statewide conference, presiding over a city council meeting or convening a working lunch with three employees, there are numerous ways we can reduce our impact on the environment when we gather in groups. Below is a list of suggestions to encourage more sustainable practices in the way that cities plan and conduct meetings.

Green Meetings Guidelines
  • Conserve paper used in programs and handouts by including only pertinent information and by printing on both sides.
  • Limit hard copy handouts and provide as much information as possible through email and the Web instead of on paper.
  • Encourage speakers to use PowerPoint presentations and to post their reference materials on the Web instead of using paper handouts.
  • Choose sites in centrally located areas, accessible by public transportation and within walking distances when possible. Encourage carpooling and/or provide shuttles.
  • Before planning even begins for larger meetings, everyone involved with an event, including the planning committee, attendees, caterers and organizers, should determine and be aware of the green/sustainability goals of an event.
  • For regional conferences research possible event locations and hotels, and try to choose one that already uses sustainable energy, water and waste practices.
  • Before making travel arrangements for speakers or attendees, see if those who would need to travel can participate through teleconferencing.
  • In addition to regular notice provisions, notice of public meetings and agenda packets can be circulated on the Web and through email, which will reduce the need for printed copies of these full documents at the meeting.
Food Service at Meetings
  • Use re-usable plates, silverware and cups as well as cloth tablecloths and napkins.
  • Avoid packaged, single-serving items like bottled beverages and condiment packets, as well as disposable items like straws and coffee stirrers.
  • Find a caterer who is willing to use locally grown food when possible.
  • Ensure that recycling bins for plastic, glass, metal and paper are readily available.
Inter-Office Meetings
  • Use email, phones and the Web for meeting related correspondence instead of paper whenever possible.
  • Printing and copying should be done on 100 percent post-consumer, recycled-content paper.
  • Recycling bins for bottles and cans should be placed in employee break rooms and where beverages are sold.
  • Recycling bins for paper should be placed in meeting locations or directly at staff workstations.

Many of these suggestions may not be right for each particular situation; the key is to think about how our long-held practices may need to shift to become more sustainable. These tips are just a starting place, but the impact of even a few of these changes can have a rather dramatic impact on our environment and your bottom line. Find more green meeting ideas.

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