Environmentally Friendly Meetings
How clubs can conserve energy and reduce waste.
As a global organization with members in 106 countries, environmental stewardship is a topic of interest to many members. Participants in Toastmasters meetings and conferences can take advantage of the following suggestions to reduce waste and make meetings more sustainable:
Save paper by reducing printing. Cut down on paper by using technology such as PowerPoint or a laptop to display information on a screen. Or follow the example shared by Linda Eenigenburg of Cary Grove Toastmasters in Chicago, Illinois. She says her club, like many others, recently decided to eliminate printed agendas altogether. “We write out the agenda on one large sheet that gets posted on the wall.”
Will Hsiung, of the Arlington Heights Toastmasters in Rolling Hills, Illinois, has taken it one step further by using an enlarged, laminated agenda that they can write on with a dry-erase marker at every meeting.
The Positive Thinkers Toastmasters club in Vancouver, Canada, writes their agenda on a white board each week, but plan for the presiding officers to use a printed agenda because “otherwise they can spend half the meeting either speaking to the board or rubber-necking between the board and the audience,” says member Debbie Forbes.
What about other materials, such as handouts or announcements? Keep your club’s website current with announcements. That way, members can review information before the meeting and those unable to attend can access the information. If your club has a newsletter, consider saving money and resources by making it available online. Many clubs email their newsletters. It’s a nice way to keep in touch when some are too busy to attend meetings.
Try texting. Some clubs are giving up paper ballots in favor of using cell phones to text comments to members about their speeches and to submit votes to the vote counter.
Consider recycling. If you feel strongly in favor of having printed agendas, announcements or ballots, consider printing on both sides of the page and use recycled paper and vegetable-based inks. And bring – or ask your host venue to provide – recycling bins for paper, metal, plastic and glass. This way, you can easily recycle any leftover materials at the end of your meeting.
Also, remember to reuse or recycle any signs, and take advantage of electronic bulletin boards, if provided in your meeting locale.
Bulk up and reuse. Encourage club members to avoid using standard water bottles and instead bring refillable plastic or eco-friendly water containers to the meeting. Toastmasters International also offers a line of eco-friendly products. To find these products, visit TI’s online store and type “eco-friendly” in the products search menu.
Save energy. If your club meets during the day, consider a change of scenery every so often and hold meetings outdoors – at a local park, for example. Make use of natural light whenever possible. If your club meets during the day, check to see if open curtains will provide adequate light for a safe gathering. In addition, coordinate with the meeting venue or host to ensure that lights and air conditioning will be turned off when rooms are not in use.
Spread the word! There are many shades of green, so take these first steps to make your meetings the deepest green possible. Once you have information and a plan on taking the steps to make your meeting more environmentally efficient, write down the plan and share it with your club. Then, promote it to guests. You can even give a speech about it. This is a surefire way to inspire your club to join the effort for a greener world – thanks, in part, to Toastmasters!
If you are interested in this topic consider following the Official Toastmasters International Members Group on LinkedIn.