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The trial run worked!  The National Environment Committee held its first paperless meeting November 28-30, 2008 in Ottawa and came away convinced there is no need to produce the usual piles of paper that often clutter our meetings.

The Committee put all information for the meeting into an electronic format.  Meeting kits were compiled on a few memory sticks and shared by the group.  Minutes were taken using a laptop.  Documents that needed to be distributed were displayed on-screen using a projector connected to a laptop.  It all went smoothly, eliminating the need for printing thousands of sheets of paper and saving the energy that goes into producing, printing, transporting and recycling paper.
The Committee took this first step to make its meetings greener.  Other changes that are being considered to further lessen the environmental impact of the committee’s meetings include:

  • cutting food waste at all meetings by ensuring that reasonable portions of food are supplied to meetings
  • composting leftover food waste
  • eliminating plastics as much as possible at meetings, by, for example, making sure milk and creamers are supplied in reusable glass pitchers and not individually packaged and that caterers supply water and juice in pitchers
  • walking to and from meetings at the national office to the nearby hotel and not taking taxis, thereby cutting emissions and particulate pollution
  • using virtual meeting technology, such as online meeting software, to cut the need to always meet face-to-face, thereby eliminating tonnes of carbon produced by members flying to meetings

The National Environment Committee – being CUPE’s green conscience – wants to lead by example by showing there are ways we can conduct our business that are less harmful to the environment. Going paperless is a first step. The Committee urges other National and Regional committees, CUPE locals, and hosts of CUPE events to go paperless to reduce the environmental footprint of CUPE’s work.

If you’d like more information, please contact Matthew Firth, the staff liaison to the National Environment committee.

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