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Published on May 25th, 2008 | by Shirley Siluk Gregory

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Marriott Unveils Green Meetings to Help Save Amazon Rainforest

A scarlet macaw in flight. (Image credit: Nilayk at Wikimedia Commons, free license to publish.)Bethesda, Maryland-based Marriott International has introduced a new green meeting program in which it will donate a portion of group guest room costs to its Amazon rainforest protection effort.

Under the program, Marriott will donate five percent of a group’s room costs in the group’s name to help protect and preserve the Amazon rainforest. To qualify, groups must book meetings between July 1 of this year and December 31, 2009.

The promotion follows Marriott’s announcement in April that it was committing $2 million for an environmental management plan run by the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation. The program will work to monitor and protect the Amazon’s Juma Sustainable Reserve, and will also help provide jobs, schooling and healthcare for the 500 or so people who live in the reserve.

“Each year, rainforest destruction causes more carbon emissions than all of the world’s cars, trains, SUVs and trucks combined,” said David Marriott, senior vice president of global sales.

In addition to making cash donations for qualifying meetings, Marriott is also instituting a variety of new green meeting services. They include recycling bins in meeting rooms, pens and notepads from from recycled materials, organic flowers, linen-free tables, reusable name tags and donations of leftover food from meetings.

According to the hotel chain, a typical three-day meeting of 1,000 people consumes  100,000 gallons of water and 200,000 kilowatts of electricity, while generating more than 12 tons of garbage.

Marriott’s green strategy, developed with help from Conservation International, calls for the corporation to support carbon offsets benefiting the Amazon rainforest, cut fuel and water consumption by 25 percent per room over the next 10 years, install solar panels at up to 40 hotels by 2017 and develop LEED-certified green building standards for new hotels by the end of next year.





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About the Author

Shirley Siluk Gregory, a transplanted Chicagoan now living in Northwest Florida, represents the progressive half of Green Options' Red, Green and Blue segment. She holds a bachelor's degree in Geological Sciences from Northwestern University but graduated in 1984, just when the market for geologists was flatter than the Florida landscape. Just as well, though: she had little interest in spending her life either in a laboratory or, heaven forbid, an oil field. So, of course, she went into journalism. After extremely low-paying but fun and educational stints at several suburban Chicago weeklies and dailies, Shirley and her then-boyfriend/now-husband Scott found themselves displaced by a media buyout and spending the next several years working as freelancers. Among their credits: The Chicago Tribune, a publication for the manufactured-housing industry, and Web Hosting Magazine, a now-defunct publication that came and went with the dotcom era. Shirley's always been concerned about nature and conservation (and an avid pack-rat, as her family can attest to), but became even more rabidly interested in the environment primarily due to two factors: the growing signs that global warming was real and threatening, and the birth of her son, Noah, in 2003. Suddenly, the prospect of a world that might not be quite as habitable in 40 or 50 years took on a whole new, and personal, meaning. Living where she lives now also helped light the fire of Shirley's environmental awareness: her hometown was severely damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, and beaten up again by Hurricane Dennis in 2005. That, and the fact that she and her family were vacationing in New Orleans until the day before Katrina -- and spent 12 hours driving home for a trip that normally takes 3 -- has made Shirley deeply appreciate how fragile our lifestyles are, and how dependent they are on sound management of natural resources and sustainable living practices. That's why she's become a passionate reader and writer about all things green and sustainable.



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