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Green Meetings

Everything you have wanted to know to be "green" and host "green" meetings.

The National Recycling Coalition developed a Green Meeting Policy that is great. Here are some of their guidelines, along with ours to use in "greening" your meetings.

Personal "Zero Waste"

Here are simple things you can do at work to reduce, use this checklist:

[ ] Have printers and copiers default to two-sided printing.
[ ] Make two-sided copies for letters and reports.
[ ] Make letters two-sided.
[ ] Print on the bottom of my letters, reports and materials for public use - "100% post-consumer recycled content paper"
[ ] Share copies of memos, letters and subscriptions circulated to avoid distributing individual copies.
[ ] Circulate one bcc copy of a document within a section/bureau to avoid making multiple copies.
[ ] Use e-mail whenever possible, and not print out all my emails!
[ ] Use "post-its" or stamps for faxing instead of an extra page.
[ ] Use scrap one-sided paper for notes, phone messages, drafts, etc.
[ ] Post publications, general information, technical guidance, etc. on the DEC web site and encourage the public to download and view documents there.
[ ] Run "spell-check" before printing any document.
[ ] Use a reusable mug for coffee and/or a reusable cup for soda instead of paper or styrofoam. (check with your favorite coffee place -- they might offer a discount)
[ ] Use a reusable water bottle instead of buying water bottles.
[ ] Recycle all materials that can be recycled in my office program.

Green Meetings

These are suggestions for you and for groups/individuals that are participating in your meetings/conferences.

Printed Materials

General Guidelines

[ ] Always meets the Executive Order 4 requirements for recycled paper (100% post consumer recycled content paper)
[ ] All printed materials should list the amount of post-consumer recycled content in the paper.
[ ] Always use double-sided copying and printing.
[ ] Limit the use of glossy paper to applications where it significantly improves the publication (e.g. high-quality photography)
[ ] Give event attendees the option of having their names removed from any post-event mailing lists.

Promotional Materials

[ ] Use electronic advertising, promotion, and registration whenever possible.
[ ] Make materials self-mailers whenever possible and do not tab self-mailers unless necessary.
[ ] Print with vegetable-based ink (unless unadvisable because of the paper used).
[ ] Use mailing labels with water-based adhesives.

Confirmation Materials

[ ] Email Confirmation materials whenever possible.
[ ] Mail only confirmation of registration and any significant changes to the event program. All other confirmations and information will be available online and mailed only when requested.

On-site Materials

[ ] Name Badges. Collect plastic name tag holders for reuse, with collection boxes at all registration, exhibit, and exit areas. Also ask hotels to collect name badge holders at the check-out desk. Hold a prize drawing from the recycled badges.
[ ] Signs. Use reusable or recyclable signs.
[ ] Sponsor Materials. Ask sponsors and others who provide materials to:

  1. Ensure they meet the 100% post-consumer recycled content paper.
  2. Avoid glossy paper.
  3. Give-aways (trinkets) should not contain toxic components and should be something useful.

[ ] For exhibit areas, use reusable table dressings (cloth table covers and skirts).

Speaker Handouts

[ ] Encourage speakers to provide electronic copies of handouts and any visual presentations and post them on your website.
[ ] Request that speakers gather business cards and mail presentation materials to interested attendees after the event.
[ ] When paper copies are preferred, request speaker handouts prior to the event and copy them according to this policy.
[ ] Ask speakers/moderators who will provide handouts themselves to comply with the policy.
[ ] Educate attendees that speakers were asked to comply with this policy.

Food & Beverage Functions

Eliminating Disposable Service Ware

[ ] Require all facilities to use china service. If the facility can demonstrate that china service cannot be used (for safety or damage control reasons), biodegradable disposable service ware in conjunction with a compost program should be used.
[ ] Eliminate the use of plastic stir sticks with any beverage service. Reusable spoons should be used at coffee service.
[ ] "Box lunches" must be served buffet style.
[ ] Request cloth napkins and table cloths. In cases where this is not feasible, request paper products with high post-consumer content.
[ ] Provide attendees with event mugs. Ask that they use them each day for coffee/water service. Make sure that mugs will be usable with the facility's beverage service containers (i.e. that they fit under coffee urns). Collect mugs from those who don't want them after the event.
[ ] Encourage attendees to use their mugs at facility water coolers. Put signs on water coolers reminding attendees to use their mugs.
[ ] Understanding that most facilities have contracts in place with beverage companies, work with the facility to understand what kinds of containers are being used for beverage service (glass bottles, cans, etc.). Ensure that recycling collection containers are available for the beverage containers being served.
[ ] Work with facilities to eliminate the unnecessary use of glasses (i.e. if beer is being served in bottles, see that glasses are given only on request). Check if beer can be served in kegs and provide reusable glasses to eliminate unnecessary container waste.
[ ] Provide water in reusable pitchers to eliminate disposable water bottles.

Food Service

[ ] All condiments (ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, jelly, butter, sugar, creamers, etc.) should be served in serving containers and not in individual packets. If the facility claims this cannot be done because of health regulations, ask for proof of this health policy.
[ ] Ask to have food served without garnishes or use edible garnishes.
[ ] Where possible, donate surplus food to local shelters, soup kitchens, etc. Let attendees know about any donation programs already in place at the facility.

Food Composting

[ ] Look into providing food composting. Depending upon what local facilities are available, either work with the city or local university to compost food scraps, or offer free booth space/demonstration space in return for a food compostor onsite at the event.
[ ] Work with the facility to educate them on food composting services that they can incorporate into their facility.


[ ] Include the food and beverage requirements in this policy with your Request for Proposal during the initial site selection process.
[ ] Put all food and beverage policies in the contract with all convention centers, hotels, and other facilities.
[ ] Include recycling requirements in the contract (all businesses need to comply with their local recycling laws anyway!)


[ ] Give preference to hotels that participates in Greenseal Lodging certification or is a member of the Green Hotels Association.
[ ] See if mass transportation options are available.
[ ] Arrange for shuttle service from mass transit stops or hotels to the event site, or check if the hotel provides this service to guests


[ ] Encourage public transportation.
[ ] Encourage carpooling.
[ ] Schedule meeting to accommodate the train schedule.
[ ] Provide information about the routes and availability of the mass transit to/from meeting/conference site
[ ] Be an example, take public transportation or carpool to a meeting.
[ ] If time allows, walk to the meeting. Meetings within ½ mile often are quicker to walk to than to start, drive, and park a car.
[ ] Be flexible enough in your demands to allow effective carpooling to meetings
[ ] Teleconference meeting if people are coming a long distance or the meeting is short.
[ ] Have people attend via telephone conference call.

If you have comments of suggestions, please let us know!

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