Talking Trash

With this spring's release of the Convention Industry Council's Green Meetings Report, the issue of green meetings—defined as those designed to minimize their negative impact on the environment—is gaining interest, some planners say. "It used to be that only environmental organizations were concerned with [holding] green meetings, but in the past year that interest has shifted to nonenvironmental groups," says Amy Spatrisano, principal of Meeting Strategies Worldwide in Portland, OR, which specializes in environmentally responsible meetings. "We're seeing more participation from association planners."

One such green-minded association planner is Shannon Kelley, convention coordinator for the American Academy of Audiology in Reston, VA, who was inspired to do a waste-reduction overhaul of AAA's convention after being "amazed" at the amount of trash that piled up at her April meeting in Salt Lake City. "I just thought, 'There's got to be a way to recycle or reuse this stuff instead of throwing it in a Dumpster,' " says Kelley. She says she got some "good ideas" from the Green Meetings Report (which outlines best practices for both planners and suppliers), but adds that her biggest stumbling block is finding resources: "Everyone can tell me how to hold a green meeting, but not who can help me do it. For instance, there's no state-by-state list of companies that pick up recycling."