It seems that everyone is looking for ways to be more ecologically friendly to our planet, which is a good thing. Can your project meetings be more eco-sensitive? Here are some suggestions:

Don’t meet if you don’t need to

Weekly project team update meetings are essential, so you can’t eliminate those meetings. But are there other meetings on issues or detailed work that could be done via e-mail discussion instead. If you are meeting just to report the findings of your work and there is no planned discussion, consider sending a one-page summary of ideas or action plans by e-mail and save the time and cost of the meeting.

Don’t meet face to face

If your team, like many project teams today, are geographically dispersed, consider holding some of your weekly project team meetings or other meetings using video or web conferencing. Many times when a document is being reviewed for input or updates are being made to the plan, team members can save the cost of car or airplane travel simply by using web meeting technology instead. With travel being one of the activities with the greatest impact on the environment, shifting even a few meetings to alternate formats can make a significant impact on the environment.

Print handouts on less paper

When you print handouts for your meetings, print on both sides of the paper to reduce your paper usage by up to half. Always use the options of your software program to reduce the number of pages printed:

  • In Excel and MS Project, use the Fit to Page option in the Page Setup dialog box to avoid printing one or two lines on a new page.
  • In PowerPoint, print four or six slides per page.
  • In Word, use the option to print two pages per sheet of paper (side by side) to cut the pages used in half.

Re-use or recycle handouts that weren’t used

If someone misses the meeting, make sure extra handouts get recycled instead of getting thrown in the garbage. If documents are printed on only one side of the page, re-use them by printing on the blank side when the printout is only for your own use. This can dramatically cut the amount of paper you use.

Avoid handouts altogether

If most of your team has laptops, send handouts for the meeting in advance and have people bring their laptops and refer to the documents on their own screen instead of printing the handouts at all. Having electronic handouts also makes it easier to archive the project documents for future use by other projects.

As many experts have pointed out, the biggest impact we can have on saving the environment is by each of us doing a little to help in our daily activities. Use the ideas above to cut the environmental impact of your projects and the whole team can feel better about not only the outcome of the project, but how it got done as well. And one more side benefit, you will probably see a noticeable cost savings by using these ideas.

Dave Paradi

David Paradi, senior associate of Business Improvement Architects, is an experienced facilitator and Project Leader. He specializes in the areas of Project Management and Leadership and is a presentations expert. David has a solid understanding of Project Management and Leadership through his experience as a project leader, project team member and facilitator of strategic planning processes. He has led development of strategic directions for organizations, project teams in the launch of new products, the development of next generation administration and marketing systems and the introduction of processes that are more streamlined.