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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.