In 2005 we stated to look at sustainability and began to adopt the hierarchy of reduce, reuse, recycle and measure the waste we produced and the energy we consumed. So five years on, are we any greener and what’s it all been about?
I recently spoke about sustainability at the Tourism Innovation Day and most of the questions I fielded were around “cost justification” and “lack of resources”. My response was to urge the questioner to look beyond the short term pounds and pennies ROI. While we have indeed saved money on energy bills (around £3000 pa) and have reduced our carbon footprint by 50%, its important to consider the wider benefits of recruitment, positive pr, increased sales from the green pound, new markets and brand reputation. Cost justification needs to be blended with wider longer term strategic benefits in order to stand up to financial scrutiny.
But I’m not even convinced that cost justification or strategic benefits were at the heart of our motivation to turn green. As I watched films like “An Inconvenient Truth” or “The Age of Stupid”, as I started to read books like Yvon Chouinard’s “Let My People Go Surfing” or Lovlock’s “Revenge of Gaia”, you can’t help but start to build a perspective that you want to be part of the climate change movement. I’ve never been on a demonstration march, but I suspect it’s a bit like that, a cause that you believe strongly enough in to give up time and energy to support, nailing your colours to the mast.
So five years on, what’s it all been about? Maximillion are now recognised as an exemplar in sustainability winning awards (Thistle, National Business, Scottish Events) and securing accreditations (GTBS Gold). We are invited to speak at conferences on the subject and are regularly used as case studies (Visit Scotland, MayDay Network, Carbon Trust). And we win business on the strength of our green credentials. I don’t consider myself an environmentalist nor to do see Maximillion as an environmental business. I run a business and my business is events. However, I believe we have inadvertently joined that “demonstration march” simply because there is a moral imperative to do the right thing.