Saturday, August 25, 2012

Glass Half Full?

"What are the ethical implications of hosting a large event in a city struggling with a diminishing water supply?"

This is the question I have been asking myself lately.

I had a similar discussion with a friend who had just hosted visiting family members in her home for 10 days. She said to me, "I went through sooooo much toilet paper!" and I said, "Can you imagine how much water you used?".

I know, I know....that is a very simplistic comparison, but a valid one nonetheless. She only had an extra family in her home, what if my community (my home) hosted an event for 500, 1000 or 5000 people for three days. That equals many, many, many litres of water being consumed/wasted/flushed.  That is a lot of toilet flushing AND many, many showers. I won't even begin to discuss food waste and garbage.

Oh Judy.....why do you bother yourself with such thoughts.....


What if the community/town/municipality/city was struggling with a diminishing water supply. Would that make it worthwhile considering?

Fresh, potable water in not an endless resource.......

At what point do we have to say "No...I am sorry, we can't host your event because would be irresponsible" or because "we have a responsibility to the folks that live here and who will still be here after the large event is over ".

People, planet, profits......we try to balance the three legged stool...our benchmark for determining "am I doing the right thing?"

As Sustainable Meeting Planners have we ever said 'STOP!', I can't do this? Because even after implementing sustainability strategies, I still can't make this particular event socially responsible?" Have we ever had to walk away?

I am not normally this morose.

I do not usually focus on such negative thinking and try to remind myself of what Dr. Karl-Henrik Robert said in Portland at the 2011 GMIC Sustainable Meetings Conference, "I am an realist with an optimistic heart". 

And I am realist and the fact of the matter is, reality sometimes is harsh. 

Protect that 'glass half full'......think about it each and every time you plan an event because is getting more and more difficult, more and more expensive and becoming more and more of an ethical consideration when you need to fill it.