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Greener Meetings are Healthier Meetings!

Think about the environment and health when planning your next meeting and conference. The impact of just a single meeting can be shocking: According to the Convention Industry Council, a 5-day conference with 2,500 attendees will use 62,500 plates, 90,000 cans or bottles, 75,000 cups, and 87,500 napkins. A green meeting, however, has a lower impact on the environment because the planners have deliberately limited the associated consumption of energy and resources. To protect public health and the environment to the greatest extent, you can incorporate specific options in your planning.

Think Green and Healthy from Start to Finish

A woman using a computer looks at a globeBefore your meeting, consider using audio and video conferencing tools to reduce participant travel. Arrange for teleconferencing and online file-sharing capabilities. Also, encourage participants to walk, use public transit, or carpool to meetings. Utilizing these tools and resources will reduce costs and travel-related fuel emissions, which are harmful to the planet as well as to people. Choosing a central location for the meeting will also help to decrease its environmental impact.

A large amount of paper is typically wasted at meetings because of extra copies and discarded handouts. Technology can aid your green efforts by helping to reduce the use of paper and thus conserve natural resources. Distribute meeting materials electronically rather than printing them. Display agendas and meeting information electronically and at kiosks. The use of web conferencing can also help participants attending remotely to follow along.

Think about the Health of your Participants

People in a meetingMeetings can be stressful and sometimes taxing on our mental and physical health. Have you considered adding wellness activities to the agenda to decrease stress and increase energy? Think about it: adding physical activities is an easy way to incorporate health in the meeting plans.

If food will be served during your meeting, try to offer nutritious choices. Your participants will be pleasantly surprised to find something other than donuts at the table! Keep in mind that various aspects of the food preparation and serving should also be planned carefully. The dishware and utensils should be reusable, and waste management should include recycling and even composting, if possible.

Although hosting a more sustainable meeting may seem daunting, implementing just a few environmentally friendly practices can make a positive impact. Please join CDC in reducing our environmental impact and protecting our public health by convening your next meeting in a green and healthy way.

Green Meeting Checklist

  • Offer teleconferencing and video conferencing services to limit travel
  • Choose central meeting locations, with accessible public transit
  • Distribute meeting materials electronically
  • Include breaks for stretching and walking
  • Turn off electronic equipment when not in use
  • If food is provided, offer healthy choices from local vendors
  • Turn room lights off when you leave
  • Drink water from pitchers or fountains; Use only cups, bottles, dishes, and utensils that can be reused

More Information

  • Page last reviewed: November 22, 2010
  • Content source:
    • Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs
    • Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs