This is the fourth GA since the UUA began making a concerted effort to make the annual gathering of congregational leaders “green.” From those first tentative efforts has grown a movement. Each year GA has been a little greener although each year it happens in different ways.
The new thing this year is that we were able to get the convention center to purchase 30 percent of its power for the convention from renewable sources. And the center has agreed to do that on a permanent basis, so we’re having an impact there. It also purchased recycle bins just because of us, said Shawna McKinley, project manager with Meeting Strategies Worldwide, the company which helps the UUA create as green a GA as possible. The UUA also mailed no GA programs to attendees this year, unless one was requested.
Most of the hotels are doing at least three new things they weren’t doing before, said McKinley. That includes donating leftover food, changing sheets every three days, and recycling paper and other waste. We can’t compost food at the convention center this year like we did in Portland however, because there’s no waste hauler of that type in Broward County.
Our greenest GA ever was probably Portland, a city with a real environmental ethos, said McKinley. Fort Lauderdale has less of a reputation for environmentalism, but the vendors, hotels, and convention center here have all been very willing to make accommodations, she said. And it didn’t hurt that the next convention in here, the International Coral Reef Symposium, had also asked for a green convention site.
For our efforts at Portland, we won the Silver award from the International Meeting and Events trade group (IMEX), which makes annual awards for the greenest conventions worldwide.
Jan Sneegas, the UUA’s Director of General Assembly and Conference Services, said she’s very pleased. “The hotels have been more involved with greening than in any city we’ve been in including Portland. And we’re really impressed the convention center went out and bought 80 recycling bins on our behalf. And they’ve told us they appreciate how we’ve helped them become greener.”
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Donald E. Skinner was the founding editor of the InterConnections newsletter for congregational leaders and a senior editor of UU World from 1998 until his retirement in 2014. He is a member of the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church in Lenexa, Kansas.