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Special Events

Trying for the Tough Stuff

I've read a rash of articles lately on “greenwashing,” accusing big business, including big hotel chains, of promoting themselves as being far more environmentally responsible than they really are.

We all chafe at disingenous marketing campaigns. My blood pressure goes up every time my bank offers to send me my statements and bills via e-mail “at no extra cost to you, our valued customer!”

But focusing solely on where environmental initiatives aren't perfect ignores opportunities to show where more good could be done.

A Harris Poll from last year reports that two-thirds of Americans say they recycle aluminum and metal cans. Three in five recycle paper, 57 percent recycle plastic and about half recycle glass. But when it comes to recycling just about everything else, the numbers drop sharply.

Only 2 percent recycle “batteries, motor oil and other hazardous ma-terials,” and only 1 percent recycle out-of-date electronics, the poll says. This stuff isn't just trash, it's toxic. Where I live, the city regularly holds hazardous materials drop-offs. And if you won't drive to those, several charities will pick up your old electronics, and one big supermarket chain offers bins for your dead batteries. It's not really that hard.

While recycling is good, source reduction — never creating trash in the first place — is even better. My office is only a block from the beach, so you might think everyone in the neighborhood is keenly aware about staying on the good side of Mother Nature. But in a Hurley Poll conducted last week while I was thinking about this column, I found myself the only person in line at the nearby supermarket who brought her own bags to tote groceries home. Everyone else had the checkers pack it up in plastic.

Bogus marketing claims are clearly wrong. But it's hard for me to criticize green efforts that aren't entirely perfect when so many of us aren't taking the first steps. It won't be the mega hotel chains that lead our world out of the global warming soup. It will be all of us and the little decisions we make every day.

Besides, why criticize something worthwhile because it isn't perfect? If you want perfection, then don't produce a special event, don't get married and, for heaven's sake, don't raise children.

The best things in life are rarely perfect and almost always take a lot of work. Articles in this issue show how event professionals overcame obstacles to create something wonderful. Quoting poet Robert Browning, “A man's reach should exceed his grasp — or what's a heaven for?”

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