How to green your work meetings

Business meetings – If you’re in a managerial or liaison position it can seem like you spend your entire working life shuttling from one meeting location to the next. As well as being time-intensive, meetings can often be extremely wasteful – stacks of hand-outs that no one’s likely to consult again, for example.

Whilst you can’t control the meetings you don’t organise, when your company is arranging a meeting there are many ways in which you can cut down the time and resources spent. As an added bonus, greening your meetings will save your company, or you, if you’re self-employed, a lot of money in the long run!


  • Do you really need to meet face-to-face? Don’t get people to travel unless it’s completely necessary. Web conferences are an incredibly effective way to ‘meet’, allowing you to see each other in HD video, make presentations as well as share and annotate documents in real time. Conversations and decisions can be recorded for future review – much better than minutes – plus the time that would have been spent travelling can be used for more productive activities. Many ‘webinar’ software companies offer free trials of their products, so why not give it a try with a friendly client or for an internal meeting?
  • If you definitely do need to meet in person, choose a venue closest to the majority of people who need to be at the meeting. Provide maps of alternative transport options and walking routes to attendees.


  • Put only the most important business on the agenda. Use web and teleconferencing to clear up any additional details at a later date. Get the meeting done in a day – don’t waste time and money with overnight stays.  
  • Stay paper free. Use email to send out agendas, travel documentation and hand-outs, so attendees aren’t loaded up with piles of perhaps unnecessary bumph.
  • If you must print out a document, pick recycled paper and print double-sided.
  • Ditch the non-recyclable mementos. Many companies spend good money having their logos printed on cheap plastic pens and ‘stress balls’. It all just becomes clutter in people’s desk drawers! If you do want to give a token, save your company cash for genuinely useful gifts, such as recycled notepads or recycled cotton shopping bags. 

Food and drink

  • If you’re providing a lunch, ask attendees to pick from a menu in advance in order to minimise food waste.
  • Avoid individually packaged snacks, meals and bottled water. Go for freshly prepared, locally sourced foods which can be bought in bulk or in recyclable packaging.
  • Serve healthy, organic foods with a low G.I. (Glycaemic Index) to help prevent the post-lunch slump! Wholegrain pasta instead of white flour pasta, for example.
  • Put out water in communal jugs and don’t pre-fill glasses. 
  • Provide coffee and hot water for tea breaks in thermos jugs with reusable mugs or cups. 

During the meeting

  • Give Powerpoint presentations but don’t hand round print outs. Those attending can make notes on the aspects that concern them – recommended for keeping people alert and engaged! Share the Powerpoint docs at the end of the meeting via email or by uploading to a website.
  • If you’re chairing the meeting, keep it short and to the point. Rambling, dull meetings will have exhausted delegates plodding towards the taxi rank at the end of the day rather than striding towards the bus stop! 

How is your company going greener? Do you have any other suggestions for green meetings? Post your comments below, or join us on Twitter and Facebook!

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