The guest speaker was Julie Klein the Director of Environmental Affairs at Rock Resorts and Vail Resorts Lodgings Company. The speech was insightful in regard to how private corporations are taking the initiative to get ahead of the curve on environmental and sustainability issues.
So you may ask why a marketing, advertising, and interactive agency was there. We don't have smoke stacks, we don't build roads in wilderness areas, etc... Well there were a couple of reasons.
First: How do we promote our environmentally conscious clients in a responsible way. Can we present a client to the world as environmentally concerned without coming off as jumping on the green bandwagon?
Second: Can we increase the number of environmentally concerned clients that retain our services? (AKA Talk the Talk to companies that are or want to Walk the Walk)
Third: What can we do to make our small footprint even smaller?
So to answer the questions above:
1) Properly promote activities that have a green (environmental) aspect but might not have a direct green (financial) return. An example our speaker provided were company efforts to rebuild hiking trails through volunteers. These events often had employees participating but wasn't getting the broad reach into the community they wanted. So they set up the event, get some good PR from it, but aren't getting the ground level support they'd like to see. Remember "If you market it they will come" If you're being green you might have to make an effort to let people know.
2) The answer is "I think so." The real question is are there enough companies out there that are making efforts and want to get some return on those efforts? Again "I think so." If you represent a company that is going green or know someone who has, get in touch. We'd like to find out what you're doing.
3) In some cases they can take it to the extreme and find they have to pull back from those goals in exchange for other goals. As an example Vail Resorts bought wind credits to cover 100% of their electricity usage. In the mountains of Colorado wind is not a practical option for direct power manufacturing. So their consideration is can that money being spent on wind credits be better spent on direct efforts to reduce usage at the resorts.
For a company like us we can of course make sure monitors, lights, and computers are turned off at night. But we can take that a step further by offering recycled paper printed with soy based ink to our clients for their direct mail campaigns or collateral materials for example.
In the end every company can take a look at itself and find a way to move forward responsibly and effectively. And why not spread the word, get the PR and good will that goes with it, increase sales, and let those efforts pay for themselves. In the near future, will you really be able to afford not going green?