The ABCT Annual Convention Is Going Green
Mary Ellen Brown, Director of Education and Meeting Services
The movement to be environmentally responsible is spreading—no wait, it’s here! Everyone knows the mantra “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.”
The term sustainability (an enduring, balanced approach to economic activity, environmental responsibility and social progress) has gained traction in the last few years.
We’ve considered these issues as we plan, prepare, and run the ABCT Convention each year.
We would like to share with you some of our thoughts and the ways in which ABCT is incorporating this effort.
What makes a meeting green?
Simply put, a green meeting incorporates environmental considerations throughout all its stages in order to minimize the negative impact on the environment.
As we plan for the future, we will be considering each hotel or convention center with an eye to their commitment to being environmentally friendly.
- Is on-site recycling provided with separate receptacles for paper, cans and bottles, and trash?
- Are lights and air conditioning routinely turned off in meeting rooms and guest rooms when not in use? • Have incandescent light bulbs been replaced with compact fluorescent bulbs?
- Is excess food donated?
- Are staff trained in implementing environmental policies?
- Is recyclable material used instead of Styrofoam?
- Do they offer a linen reuse program so that bed linens are changed only when requested and towels are replaced only when left on the floor?
The Swan and Dolphin Hotels are part of the larger Walt Disney World presence in Orlando.
In many ways this company has spearheaded conscientious use of the surrounding property.
Of the 30,000 acres at the Walt Disney World Resort, nearly one-third of the property was set aside from the beginning and remains a dedicated wildlife conservation area.
Each day, 10 million gallons of water are reclaimed (recycled) and used in irrigation throughout the property.
The Disney Harvest program collects food which was prepared, but not served, from the restaurants and distributes nearly 50,000 pounds of food per month to the Second Harvest Food Bank.
Are you using our on-line information?
Hopefully you have used the upgraded Convention information on the ABCT website.
The Itinerary Planner (link located on the home page) allows you to search for your interest area or for a specific presenter.
We expect more and more attendees will use this site, and will transfer the information to their own PDAs.
As the ABCT Convention continues to grow, it becomes ever clearer that distributing information on-line is preferable.
This year carrying the program book throughout the meeting will count as your exercise for the week—no need for the gym.
While we do not currently plan to give up the printed book, we wonder if it is necessary in its current form.
What do you think? For instance:
Should we print the program book but only distribute on-site and save all the postage and handling costs, as well as the pounds of polybags which end up in land fills?
Should we list only the topic areas of the poster sessions in the program book and take out the poster titles and authors (these accounted for about 144 pages this year)?
Should we publish the information normally in the convention program book on a flash drive instead?
Should we eliminate the book entirely and have attendees use the on-line information only?
How would we handle proof of participation to be used for reimbursement? Are printouts from our website sufficient?
Please send your thoughts and suggestions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
These ideas will be shared with the ABCT members who are active in Convention and Continuing Education Issues and who are committed to improving your Annual Conventions.
In several ways ABCT has already been doing what is being suggested in the meeting industry.
Our events are modest, without excessive decoration and nonsense giveaways.
We use recycled paper for registration envelopes and for the convention program book.
And this year the pens we give out will be made of recycled material.
We have distributed information and forms on-site rather than through the mail, which often is not received and requires duplication.
Our convention overall evaluation will be on-line again this year, saving 4,000 pieces of paper.
And, we encourage exhibitors to be sensible with their products and giveaways.
This year we asked presenters at ticketed CE functions to limit the size of their printed handouts and to make further information available to attendees on-line.
For next year we are investigating the costs of providing handouts only on-line or on flash drives. What do you think?
Please share your experiences, both positive and negative, so that we can better our plans for future ABCT Conventions.
Address correspondence to Mary Ellen Brown, Director of Education and Meeting Services, ABCT, 305 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10001;