Promoting without polluting.

I was just part of a very nice little in-agency GO GREEN event to help staff understand their options regarding recycling, reuse, green building, greener business, etc.

This is a wonderful notion, yet I once again find myself being critical. Mostly because of the plastic tablecloths and the give-away kitsch items that in some cases strive to be green, but in most cases aren’t.

What is a promoter to do?  How do you get your message across without being a part of the system that needs to radically change?

At this mini-expo, I have a table full of Green Building products including Paperstone, concrete bricks using Possotive from Kingston Block and Masonry, insulation and packing material from Ecovative, recycled glass counters from Icestone, cellulose insulation, recycled rubber flooring, and paper-based heat exchange filters, to name a few.

Paperstone Countertops

Kingston Block and Masonry

Ecovative Design

Recycled Glass Countertops

My goal for this event is to teach at least a few people about the options out there, the variety of beauty in greener materials, and the length of time many of these have been successfully employed in buildings. Also to help them realize that “greener” is not rare or costly.

In order to make the info “stick” I made a little quiz sheet to help them match materials to the recycled or natural contents…and I justify this 100% recycled paper use:  25 sheets for hopefully 2 solid hours of connections. Big expos have the luxury of card readers and can “ship” info via e-mail, but this doesn’t work as well as we would wish. Who has time to read all that e-mailed info a month later, and how many times do I forget why I wanted to learn more?

I see other very green entities such as CDTA giving away bags (is there still need for reusable bags?) and I have no idea if the  bag was responsibly manufactured or contains recycled content.  It LOOKS reusable. NY State now has a guideline spec to call for reusable bags, and to avoid plastics.  A great start.

Check out, and feel free to use, all these NYS approved “green procurement” specs.

What about pens? No one has tackled the pen deal at display events.  Why do we still insist on passing our cheap, plastic, logo laden pens? Is the answer pencils? Is the answer something entirely different?…and what?  Can we stealth green the pens with soy ink and recycled plastic components or a take-back program for the empty pens? Does anyone ever empty a pen…or do they ALL just get lost somewhere, or dry up in drawers? The next item to address is the lanyard. How many lanyards does any one person need?

Toss-away promo pens

Toss-away promo pens

And then let’s get to the “enticement” to visit booths.  Even at Greenbuild, the greenest vendor event one can attend, an event with a clear focus on green building and services and highly attentive to greenwashing, half the booths have candy to give away.  Candy. Usually produced way away, individually wrapped, full of colors and additives, and of no nutritional value. Sigh.

Okay, enough grumping. This has been an excellent event. It is small enough to be visited in 15 minutes or so, even talking with the tablers. It is big enough to be worth visiting.  People have asked good questions and wanted contact info for more to learn about recycling, paper management, transportation, green buildings and the efforts of several state agencies in greening their work. The most important thing is that it is yet one more step in having more traction for green buildings, green business and green living.

And that it what we must remember.  Sometimes we need to use today’s limited technology and today’s poor habits to help people find the better solutions for tomorrow.  And this is an iterative process.

Go green-er.



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