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November 2009
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Greening a Conference

Last week I helped to organize a conference to celebrate Women in Engineering in the Ontario Public Service – although not as you may guess, it was not a man-bashing, yeah women event. It was an event to let those who came before us in engineering to share with the younger generation how far things have come. All and all our day was a great success, the attendees really enjoyed themselves and we got the day off without a hitch.

I couldn’t help but notice all the things we could have done to reduce our footprint on the earth.

  1. Ask for water and juice in pitchers – Instead of all those little plastic bottles ask for glasses and pitchers of juice and water. You almost always get real coffee cups, why can’t they give you real glasses too?
  2. Real plates – Instead of paper, or worse plastic, ask for real plates. Even offer to have a service come in, drop them off and pick up the dirty ones. If that is not an option there are bamboo and other compostable plates.
  3. Re-use name tags: How many name tags do you have that are white, have your name, where you work and are in a regular, white plastic envelope? And ok if you use an old name tag it makes it look a little less professional but we could all use a little less plastic.
  4. Instead of handing out folders with handouts email all participants PDF versions of the handouts. Some people may choose to print them but at least you’ll be reducing the overall number of pages printed.

What else can you do to reduce the impact?

I’m hoping next year to be on the executive committee again next year and try to implement some of these tactics.