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Going Green

May - 23 - 2008
Nicole C. Engard

I am certainly not someone who is very green – but I do try to do my part. I recycle at home and grow my own herbs and try to shop at the farmers market when possible. The best way I can go green is to not print handouts for the classes I give – and lately I’m giving a lot of classes.

That said, this is a bit of a rant. At a few of my most recent talks I’ve had attendees complain that there were not handouts. I tell them at the beginning of the class that I’m going green and the slides are available online for people to print if they want – but that they can view them online whenever they want – and they still complain!! I don’t know about you, but most of my class handouts go into the recycle bin after I blog about the session – why keep them? I have it all documented and linked here. Librarians (and probably lots of other people – but I mostly see librarian) seem way too wedded to their paper! We need to learn to use some of the new tools available to us instead of wasting paper

Along these lines, there will be no paper handouts or water bottles at the SLA Annual Conference this year in an attempt to go green! They are asking all speakers to upload their slides before the event so that attendees can access them online. This is absolutely awesome!! And I feel for everyone who had to make this decision because they’re going to be bombarded with librarians complaining about not having handouts!

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15 Responses so far.

  1. Bobbi Newman says:

    I’ve run into the same problem. I’ve compromised – a one page handout with info about the presentation and a list of useful links including one to the handout. Not totally green but better than a 30 page handout that will go in the recycle bin.

  2. JanieH says:

    I am with Bobbi — I compromise by giving a one page handout if I feel that the group/class will really expect it. The one page contains my contact info, a link to the slides, a few bulleted highlights and recommended links. Printing out slides is not something I will do very often, especially if the group is large. I agree that green is the way to go for handouts.

  3. Alison says:

    My colleague just did a presentation on a wiki we set up here for our subject guides — she put the presentation info on the wiki and provided the URL at the start & end of the session. And yet, one of the top complaints on the feedback forms was “no handouts.” I don’t get it. Half the time I get rid of mine before I even leave a conference!

  4. ronnie says:

    Not giving out handouts is a great idea! Slides being online for people to view is even better because they have access to it whenever they want and if they chose to print it out they can. It’s nice to see more people being green these days. And look at you and how you’re incorporating it into what you do as far as teaching classes. I mean come on it is one of the hottest trends in 2008 if you haven’t noticed.

    I just recently went green myself, and I didn’t have to make large adjustments like I thought I would have to. One of the biggest changes that I’ve made so far was switching to bioheat. Can you say AWESOME! It’s non-toxic, biodegradable, and made with every-day products like soybean oil. Cool right? Okay, it may sound like it might funk up your house but it works wonders. And during the winter, it’s my best friend along with my ugg boots.

    If it wasn’t for me working with NORA, I would have never even thought about going green. Now I’m encouraged to research more ways I can go green and not have to become on of those hug the tree type of girls. I got some really great info from:
    http://oilheatamerica.com/index.mv?screen=bioheat.

    Check it out and see what other cool info it has to offer.

  5. Lori Reed says:

    I’ve been pondering this same thing about training handouts. I create very detailed 15-20 page handouts and by the time I go to teach the class the software or interface has changed.

    I think the one-page handout is a good compromise…that way they at least walk away with something and the URL for the slides.

  6. Diana says:

    I think going green is something that everyone can agree is a step in the right direction toward building a better community, and laying down the foundations for which future generations can successfully thrive in a healthier environment. Plus, I think many businesses will benefit from going green, not only building a more acceptable public persona, but in the long run it really helps companies save money and be a positive contributor to the world we live in.

    Another thing I want to talk about is bioheat, it’s just one small measure that people can take in order to start living a greener lifestyle.

    Has anyone ever heard of it, or has switched to it? I want to start taking initiative in turning my home into a greener household, one way I have started is by switching out all my lightbulbs in my home to energy efficient lightbulbs. And I am also seriously considering switching over to bioheat as an alternative to regular oilheat. The thing that I love the most about it is that it’s completely clean burning, and is comprised of a b5 blend of oils which are derived from natural plant and vegetable sustainable resources such as corn, hemp, and avocados just to name a few. If you all want more information on how bioheat works, just go on to http://oilheatamerica.com/index.mv?screen=bioheat I work with NORA to bring this info to you all!

  7. Nicole says:

    Wow! Check you all out! I guess the one page deal is okay – but I don’t really want to give in :) As for going green at home, I’d love to make some upgrades to our house, but we are still paying for all the initial moving fees and such – maybe in a couple of years.

  8. I recently did a workshop where part of the speaker contract (such as it was) required that I provide handouts for the class. They would pay for them – I just had to send them the handout file and they printed it off, but they (as I have) have had too many complaints about no handouts, apparently. I generally create a “virtual handout” via a wiki (right now I’m using wetpaint, but looking for one that allows anonymous comments on pages, but not anonymous edits…) with one page that gives my contact info, the URL of the virtual handout and some basic info about the presentation. It would be nice to just have the virtual handout, but I have seen too many evaluation forms with the words “No handouts!!!” written in the comments section to show up without *something* to give to the participants!

  9. Debra says:

    I am just glad that people are considering how much is being wasted by things such as excessive handouts. If that is under the umbrella of “going green,” I’m all for it. There is just too much JUNK and handouts are a part of that.

    The person who will take the time to go online and read the handouts is someone who will actually be interested in the content. I recently came back from a conference and still have not gone through all of the handouts that I took — and I won’t until after I complete a project for library school. Therefore, it is now considered JUNK that is cluttering up my house.

    I have been guilty over the years in printing paper — mainly for my online classes — and then dumping it after it was no longer needed (I did keep some stuff). It was my partner who encouraged me to recycle and now I’m really into it. I usually don’t like to follow trends — and it seems like this whole “green” thing is one — but this actually makes sense and saves $$$.

    I hope that “green” is here to stay. I’m old enough to remember the first Earth Day (although I was quite young at the time) and know that these “green” initiatives have come and gone over the years. Going green makes sense and if it causes people to reconsider the clutter that they have in their homes, it will be worth it.

  10. pollyalida says:

    If I’m doing a short session that’s just demo/talking/chatting, I go paperless and direct participants to my wiki for links and other info. I’ve only had one complaint, the person was really quiet distressed and informed me that speakers always provide copies of slides. It was an interesting moment!

    That said, for my full-day/hands-on sessions, I still provide handouts. I get a wide range of skill levels in my classes and I find a handout helps people work at their own pace and lets me help the people who need the most help. Evaluation comments consistently thank me for the handouts. Still, I hate all the paper I’m using. Lots of it ends up shredded and put in my compost heap!

  11. Nicole says:

    Polly, I understand the full day workshop needing hand outs – and sometimes I think people are likely to keep those handouts – but I still don’t like to give handouts for my hands-on workshops. I always make sure that everyone is on the same page (per se) before I move on when doing hands-on and I think it’s easier for people to find these sites again if they click links online instead of typing in long URLs.

  12. I’m torn on this topic. I prefer to read hard copy, but on the other hand, I’m a grad student who just finished her first year of a three-year MLIS program. I had oodles of readings during that year and I found that reading them on my laptop as PDFs was fine, as far as I was concerned. Besides, I have way too much paper already cluttering my living space, so I’m not happy with extra random handouts. I’d like to cast a vote as a member of the “if you put your handout online, I’ll go there for it” population.

  13. ellie says:

    I’m dealing with green thoughts right now myself in terms of survey feedback. But I always made a website to go with my handouts even before they started asking, just so people could click all my links instead of type them. I’m really glad libraries have taken the initiative here.

  14. Going Green: The Un-Handout and Handout Alternatives says:

    [...] week Nicole Engard posted about going green for conferences by not printing slides and handouts. I can’t agree more [...]

  15. [...] posts in the past couple weeks, since Nicole Engard on her blog What I Learned Today posted about not giving out handouts at her presentations in order to be green? It is something worth considering. Tons of paper is wasted from large [...]


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