Sounds like your boss was paying attention last spring! That's when a huge shift in environmental news took place. A series of big time reports all said pretty much the same thing: It's time to get going on Green.
It's only human to be upset by this, and your boss seems to want results. But you can't do everything at once. So let's take stock before diving in.
A Brave New World
The spring of 2014 will be remembered as the moment when "our future" became "today." New reports from the IPCC and the National Climate Assessment said that people are feeling the effects of our changing climate already.
Meanwhile, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which is the largest general science membership organization in the world, issued a short little report titled "What We Know." It delivered three simple messages.
First, based on the evidence, about 97 percent of climate experts agree that human-caused climate change is happening. When was the last time nearly every expert agreed about anything?
Second, we should pay attention to the high end of the risk spectrum because scientists can't rule out the possibility of "massively disruptive consequences." That's the scary stuff. As if to drive this point home, NASA reported that a large part of Antarctic's ice sheet will inevitably slide into the ocean, raising sea level quite a bit higher.
Third, taking action quickly can reduce the risks and save a lot of money.
Business On the Move
The news sent a ripple through the business world. Going Green used to be a marketing slogan, but now it's a core strategy. Andrew Winston, bestselling author of Green to Gold has released a new book titled The Big Pivot. He writes about companies making it their mission to solve these global challenges and then figure out how to do it profitably.
In other words, going Green is business priority No. 1. Going Green profitably is every businessperson's new job.
KoAnn Skrzyniarz, CEO of Sustainable Brands, has built a community where business leaders share information about how to make the pivot. You can hear Andrew and KoAnn discuss the challenges on the Climate Report™ podcast.
Where Does this Leave You?
Let's face it, exhibitors tend to make Green choices when it's convenient or when they foresee earning some good PR. But according to the experts, this will change. Greener events will become a priority, not because it's "the right thing to do," but because events are central to a company's core strategy and brand reputation.
This is why I wrote The Green Edge. It's one of the tools you might use to focus your efforts. You might also follow the APEX/ASTM Sustainable Meeting Standards or the GreenBuild show's Mandatory Exhibitor Green Guidelines.
Either way, focusing helps. For example, if your boss is talking about carbon pollution, then focus on reducing it before tackling landfill waste or greener materials. You'll be much more productive than if you try to do everything at once. Once you've tackled carbon, you can turn to the next issue.
It also pays to set ambitious goals. If carbon is your focus, then try to cut emissions in half or more within, say, three years. This will lead you to look for pockets of carbon pollution in your program.
If you're like most exhibitors, the biggest pockets will be travel and transportation. So you might try shipping from show to show rather than back and forth from your exhibit house. You might rely on local reps to staff a booth so you can reduce the number of travelers. And you might try doing more online meetings.
Don't forget to ask your suppliers for help. They might suggest unexpected solutions or sign you up for the EDPA's Zero Waste Challenge to help get the ball rolling.
Like a growing number of business executives, your boss is looking for big results. The best way to deliver them is to focus on one issue at a time.