Recently our office received an anonymous request to crack down on the overprinting of materials for meetings on campus. Apparently, this person’s office prints the agenda and all the PowerPoint slides for taking notes with a cover sheet to divide each presenters’ notes. In the end, the packets end up being 10 – 20 pages of single-sided paper, often printed in color. Because they print a packet for every potential person who could attend, some of these packets don’t even get used and go straight into the recycling bin.
I admire this employee reaching out to try and make a difference here on campus, but, our office does not enforce more sustainable behaviors by cracking down on others. We do, however, share resources and ideas that you can take back to your office to try to incorporate into practice, such as these key principles of green events, which can be applied to meetings as well.
1. Promote responsible stewardship around the Sustainability Compass.
2. Recruit & include diverse audiences.
3. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
4. Aim for a zero-landfill event.
5. Share successes to educate others.
Meetings on campus can positively change through planning considerations in location, communications, materials, and waste generated.
Location, Location, Location
- Meet somewhere close to the majority of attendees to save travel time.
- Choose a space with a projector for the agenda and presentations to avoid printing.
- Save time and money by holding conference calls or video chats.
- Walk or take the War Eagle Bike Share to on-campus meetings.
- Only use a golf cart if you need to haul a heavy load.
Communications: Be Green, Keep it on the Screen
- Email the agenda ahead of time, so those who prefer a hardcopy can print and bring their own.
- Have people take notes digitally or on materials they brought.
- Project the agenda digitally or write it on a dry-erase board.
Use paper purposefully:
- Make an accurate headcount to avoid any unused copies, should you need to print.
- Print double-sided.
- Reduce your margins and font sizes.
- Use recycled-content paper.
Make the Most of Every Cup
While coffee may create alert attendees and comfort on a cold day, it can also have negative impacts. Think before you drink by purchasing in a way that avoids food waste, eliminates waste to the landfill, and supports sustainability.
- Purchase certified coffee (Rainforest Alliance, organic, Fair Trade).
- Let people know where to refill their water bottle and do not provide bottled water.
- Get an accurate headcount so you don’t serve more than you need.
- Use reusable coffee mugs, not single-use paper or Styrofoam cups.
- Use a spoon you can wash and use again instead of coffee stirrers.
- Make coffee in a coffee pot or reusable pod to avoid single-use K-cups.
Sort It Out
Contact the Waste Reduction and Recycling Department if you need a:
- Recycling bin for plastic and aluminum
- Paper recycling bin
- Trash can for non-recyclables
Green Event Guide
Our Green Event Guide shares ways to minimize the negative and maximize the positive impacts of events on campus, with special considerations for holding meetings, hosting conferences, and even tailgating. It’s chocked full of tips and resources to plan, communicate, and pull off your meeting. In it you’ll find:
- Descriptions and examples of products covered by various purchasing certifications
- Campus resources to guide your decisions on accessibility, transportation, and waste disposal
- Purchasing tips to minimize waste for a variety of common event items
If you are an employee who would like to learn more about sustainability at work or support a change effort in your unit:
- Check out our Working at AU page.
- Contact the Peers Network Ambassador in your unit.
- Sign up to receive our monthly Auburn Sustainability News.
- Take the AU HRD Course: Sustainability in the Workplace.
If you want to save money and resources when hosting meetings and events, please share these resources and ideas with others in your office. Thank you for working to make a difference here on campus!