How can we save carbon in face-to-face training sessions

An image of a twirl of smoke against a dark blue sky, representing the aim to 'save carbon.'

We love all forms of training, including a quality ‘blended’ programme, which allows for different combinations of training approaches including face to face (f2f), virtual and E-learning. Incorporating some virtual training into your learning and development (L&D) programme is a great way to save carbon and there are some other ways in which you can reduce carbon in f2f classrooms as well. Let’s discuss some of them below. 

4 Effective tips to save carbon in face to face training

1. Paperless training rooms

Trainers often use lots of paper in a f2f training room. Flipchart paper, handouts, cardboard name cards, post-it notes and posters to name a few. But are these always necessary? There are plenty of alternatives available to trainers including whiteboards and smart boards. Many training rooms are already equipped with these options and yet there is always the temptation to fall back on traditional methods, due to their convenience, familiarity and ease of use.

As a trainer, there are plenty of whiteboard apps you can use to record your models and ideas, which you can then project to the group. If you love post-it notes as much as we do, let’s use up the trillions that are already hanging around in our offices and training rooms, then stop buying them – Period. Then start using the brilliant Post-it app! The app is exactly like having the post-its physically and can be projected onto a smart board or TV for learners to see and contribute to.

2. E-handouts

Staying with the idea of reducing the usage of paper, trainers can stop using ring-binder folders with plastic wallets, filled with paper in their training rooms. The sad reality for most of these binders is that they sit on a shelf, gather dust or become a wedge for a wonky desk. Thankfully, in this carbon-conscious age, the paper is being used more economically in the training room. But not always.

Electronic handouts, or E-Handouts, is an interactive version of its paper counterpart. They provide learners with everything they need, including space to capture notes, capture content, offer questionnaires and further references, all in a handout that never gets printed or lost. Learners can come to the workshop equipped with their laptop or mobile phone in order to access the handout and use it throughout the training.

Some trainers raise concerns that if they allow these devices in the training room, then their learners may get distracted. If the training is engaging and interactive, learners would stay focused on the task at hand. If not, then agreeing for everyone to go on flight mode is always an option.

3. Catering

In f2f learning, lunch is often provided smothered in different single-use plastic forms. While this is ideal for keeping the food fresh, from a carbon cost; it is incredibly expensive. Could you encourage your learners before the workshop to bring their own lunch in reusable packaging? And their own water container? Does your business have a supply of mugs that can be washed and reused instead of using paper cups? If you are providing tea and coffee, use teaspoons rather than plastic stirrers, a box of teabags rather than individually wrapped bags and a pot of sugar rather than sachets. It gets easier when you’ve done it once!

4. Travel

As well as doing carbon better over lunch, challenge your learners to get to the training venue via the most carbon friendly route. Encourage them to car share, use public transport, walk or cycle. Ask how they can use their time effectively whilst at the venue. Can they attend other meetings or take the chance to network or hot-desk?

Thinking of flying? There are options available to you if you would like to mitigate the carbon cost such as paying a small charge in order to offset by having trees planted. Some companies do this as standard for staff travel. Answering some questions like ‘do you have to fly for business?’ ‘What does your company do to lessen the carbon impact?’ etc will help you understand the different alternatives that you haven’t yet thought of.

Final thoughts

From minimising the air travel to reducing the paper used in a training session, little steps are achievable aims to save carbon for any modern business. The rising carbon cost of everyday life, for both individuals and businesses, is a planet-wide problem and one we all should be trying to minimise.

What is your company doing to minimise carbon output? What positive changes could you make?

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