Green Corner – What is my incentive for greening my event?
By Richard Byford
What are the incentives for people to go green? That is a good question and it was asked recently by a member of my audience when I was speaking recently at The Event Solutions Conference in Las Vegas.
I had spoken for over an hour on all the different things that producers and event people can do to produce green events. When I get going, the passion rises and I start talking about recycling, reducing our carbon foot print, reducing power usage, reducing paper usage and all the other things that I feel so passionately about. My excitement for the topic seemed to catch on and the audience came on this ride with me.
An hour into my session, I asked the audience for comments or questions. A young lady immediately spoke up - I don’t know her name and I have no idea what part of the country she came from - I do know that she was very knowledgeable and well-spoken and that she stopped me right in my tracks because I did not have an immediate answer for her.
Her statement: You talk a lot about going green for all the right reasons; you’re talking about doing it for the good of the planet, but you have to be real - look at how many people are in this room compared with some of the other panels. We are in a recession and people are going to the panels to learn to survive. The question should be, “What are the incentives financially for the companies to go green?” You have to talk about the triple bottom line - there is the social capital and the environmental capital, but also the financial capital.
I guess I am naive. I thought that producing green events and living a sustainable life style was just the right thing to do and that everyone would realize that the Special Event Industry could lead the way by example and we would change America. I guess I’ve always been a dreamer, however this mysterious lady is correct. The incentive in America to do anything, especially where change is required, is governed by the dollar and the bottom line. The first question out of everyone’s mouth is how much does it cost and how much money will I make?
I do not intend to waste this space by discussing the rights and wrongs of the American way of life, however, since “going green” is so important let’s discuss briefly the costs and the financial gains. It is true to say that there are a lot of little things that we can all do for little or no expense to make a difference in the way we do things. However small you think your part may be - it is the total of all those parts that will help lead us into a green sustainable future.
All of the little things we do have a marketing value. So tell everyone what you are doing, however small, so that others may follow your example. The bigger changes that would add additional cost to your client’s bottom line are much more difficult to achieve, unless there is a financial gain or a good marketing plan that would give them the reason to do it. You know, it has taken us a lot of years to arrive at this point and to be honest, it will take a lot of years down the road before we will see a marked difference.
What keeps me going is that as I travel around the world, I do see things changing - there is a quiet revolution starting to take place. Companies are slowly changing their thinking and their way of doing things. The week we were in Las Vegas, where the conference took place, Bally’s was awarded the highest EPA rating of any gaming facility in the US. They employ people on their dock to sort through the trash 24 hours a day and they recycle everything that it is possible to recycle.
So, I say to my unknown lady friend who prompted me to write this - yes there is a triple bottom line - social, environmental and financial. But it all starts with passion - a passion to do what is right for the country or the world. I truly believe that the financial bottom line will become easier as we move through the years. But we need the passion and desire to start somewhere!
If my mysterious lady reads this please contact me - I think we would have very interesting conversation. Actually that invitation goes out to everyone - let’s start a dialogue so we can all learn from one another. Let’s share the passion!
Richard Byford is the president of Byway Events & Entertainment based in Palm Springs, Calif. To view other blogs by Richard go to Byway Blog