Shades of Green
Envy…Inexperience…Money…Proceed…Gills…it’s not easy…
I’ve always liked to think that doing the right thing should be reason enough to change behavior—however, as we all know, habits are tough to break and convenience sometimes wins out over “doing the right thing.”
We have all experienced the rise of “reusable bags”— I must have received about a half dozen as holiday gifts this past year, and they are for sale and handed out (logoed) everywhere you go (over the holidays I saw a stack at a funeral home while attending a wake…no thank you). I’ve often carried a few around with me as I shopped, and used them when I remembered, but it wasn’t necessarily a habit — and by the looks of the number of the white-handled single use plastic bags I see every day — it still isn’t for most.
Beginning last spring, in the village where I live, those little white plastic bags were banned. Legislated out of existence. Since then, many neighboring towns and villages have followed suit or are in the process of doing so. Now carrying around reusable bags has just become second nature—and if not on hand, small paper bags (by law, made of 30% or more recycled material) are an acceptable substitute.
All this made me think of our discussions about moving from our annually published AICP Membership Directory (200+ pages of reference material, laminated covers and tabs and a swirling metal and plastic binding) to a mobile based App. Of course, it was “the right thing to do” but would people be ok using it? After all, we have been publishing this book for the better part of two decades, and people await its arrival every year (or so they tell us).
We had discussed moving away from print two years ago, and even did a survey of our members who overwhelmingly said that they might use the App, but still wanted the book—so we left the book in place, and kept working on ideas for the App. As we moved into spending quite a bit of time/energy/resources developing the AICP App this past year (thank you IMC), I kept wondering how to condition people off of the book; it seemed crazy to print one as well as release the digital version, it seemed not only irresponsible, but just plan OLD. Only one thing came into my head. What would Mayor Bloomberg do? When he banned smoking in all New York City bars and restaurants in 2003 (and this past year in public parks), it was the right thing to do, but to some, it seemed that all civil rights had been taken away. Now, you can’t go into any major city in the world where smoking is still totally accepted. Sometimes you just have to do it and let the world catch up for “the right reasons.”
So is legislating something the answer to making positive change happen? If it were only that simple our politicians might be ranked higher in the view of the public (last year, in an annual “most respected professions” poll they were ranked next to the bottom —just above telemarketers and just below sex workers). Some things can’t be pushed into existence; they need development with a practical balance between the right reasons and efficiency. Even with the smoking ban, it was achieved in incremental steps – from smoking and non-smoking sections to smoke free.
That’s why when it came to developing an official AICP Green Production initiative it seemed that guidelines and discussions of “best practices” were the practical approach, rather than laying out a set of rules that MUST be followed for a production to be green (sorry Mayor Mike).
After all, much of what is done in production has a lot to do with a willful collaboration with the agency and/or client in process and in willingness to absorb the costs for “alternative” procedures. So we need to get on the same page — and this is going to take time to find our way to the right balance for each situation. As you will read in this week’s Spotted, a very committed AICP committee has drafted a combination of practical green production initiatives and resource guide for all things green in production.
As we kick into a full launch of these initiatives (an initial peek was available for those in attendance at the AICP Conference in October) we will do so keeping in mind our balance of learning from experience, practicality and effectiveness. At an upcoming AICP Town Hall meeting there will be a forum where discussion and shared experience will rule the evening. There will be a panel discussion headed by Bonnie Goldfarb of harvest—the chairperson of the Committee that authored these guidelines. This will be just the first of many discussions and shared experiences to get us to a place where we feel we are all “doing the right thing.”