Several sessions focused on environmental issues, such as sustainability, renewable resources, corporate accountability, and green consumer behavior. Some vendors had giveaways made from recycled materials; others offered marketing literature highlighting environment-related databases and publications; still others shared tales of how their companies' are trying to lessen their carbon footprint. And, with the help of the Washington State Convention and Trade Center's "Recycle, Reduce, Reuse" initiative, fewer materials were consumed in the process of putting on SLA than in the past.
This greening was no coincidence. In January 2008, SLA announced that it would "take the first steps and begin efforts to become an environmentally sensitive organization at the membership, board, volunteer leadership, and staff level." The "SLA: Knowledge to Go Green" initiative was launched and the conference became a great place to put it into action.
SLA purchased 3,000 reusable water bottles that were handed out by the Pacific Northwest Chapter. Mine was cherry red and I filled it up whenever I got thirsty at water stations located throughout the conference center and the INFO-EXPO. I thought the CAS-sponsored tote bags were a bit dowdy but became less critical when I learned the bags were made from 65% recycled materials. Handouts were noticeably missing from many sessions because these materials were available online to reduce wasted paper. Attendees were asked to recycle their plastic name badges, made from 20% recycled materials, in receptacles at the end of the show. Conference signage was made from 88% consumer waste fiber board from Champion Nationwide. And, believe it or not, all excess food was donated to a local food rescue program. (My city of Portland, Ore., has a similar program.)