First, Happy Earth Day – I hope your long weekend was fantastic.
Myths and stories abound in human history… “There is an Easter Bunny.” “Becoming more sustainable is hard.” “My actions won’t matter in the grand scheme of the Earth’s environment and pollution.” Let’s unpack those myths, starting with the Easter Bunny: Any rabbit that wants to bring chocolate is a good rabbit in my books. Those other two myths though…
Let’s start with individual actions: They matter. As a planner or supplier in the hospitality industry you travel widely and interact with many people. Every time you politely decline (we are Canadian after all!) that single use plastic, you give someone else the courage and permission to make a more sustainable choice. Behaviour (good and bad) is learned and contagious. If there is one thing I know about my industry of meetings and events, it is filled with good people doing good things. Let’s make a sustainable choice one of our good things.
Next – is it REALLY that hard? I immersed myself in sustainable consumption three years ago – and discovered that with information and a framework, becoming more environmentally friendly was easier than I expected. The mental model that works for me for sustainability is the analogy of weight loss and weight maintenance. People who are successful in these areas tell us their best tips are to make a lifestyle choice, not a one-off activity and that calories go in and exercise helps take them off. Successful dieters quickly learn to be choosy – you want to “spend” those calories on something worthwhile for your body and your taste buds – and if you overindulge, you make up for it later, either through less calories or more exercise.
So how does this translate to sustainability? Well, let’s see…This planet is our collective body. We have overindulged for too long, and we need to lose a little of that weight.
1) Commit to a lifestyle of sustainability – Every day, make choices that are conscious of the environment you live and play in.
2) Spend wisely. Consider carbon in the atmosphere to be like calories – consume with care.
3) Burn Baby Burn – Carbon drawdown is our exercise (or using up those calories).
I realize this is a bit simplistic, but it helps us to understand what we need to do and how the carbon balance needs to be managed. First, we need to “lose the carbon,” then we need to maintain it good habits we have developed.
It also helps to understand why small actions add up – because that is what we face in our diets – 300 extra calories a day for a year, equals a 30 lb weight gain. That’s crazy, right – 300 calories is an apple with peanut butter, it’s a small snack – we would not think twice about eating it – but eat it everyday and don’t change anything else, and in one year, wham, 30 lbs! Plastic cups, bags, bottles, straws – all consumed by individual users who “don’t matter,” add upwards of 9 million tons of plastic waste in the world’s waters every year. Yes. NINE. MILLION. TONS.
I love a good list with a catchy title, so:
3 Easy Ways to Love the Earth
1) Compost – ask your venues if they compost. Asking the question helps to keep venues aware that this is a client request. And yes, compost at home!
2) Break Up with Beef – In my past audits for carbon footprint actions, beef was offered at every single meal over three days, except breakfast. We like to say: “3 options: Beef, chicken and fish.” Consider a vegan or vegetarian meal – perhaps breakfast or lunch to start. Eating vegan is no longer a fringe diet. Stop asking, “Where’s the Beef?”
3) Plastic Rehab – Single use plastics are just bad for the planet, and bad for us. Microplastics are now found in the human digestive system – they interfere with hormone and liver function – is that bottled water worth it?
One last thing that I want you to do – and it’s the long weekend, so join our little bunny and go for a walk outside. NASA teaches in their climate change lectures that people who spend more time in nature appreciate why it’s important and work harder to nurture and protect it.
I hope you enjoyed this long weekend, and if you want to connect on how you can make your events greener, please reach out!