1. Lessons In Leadership

Sustainability — trying to measure up

When the challenge is infinite, think finite.

Back in August, Freeman published a digital version of our 2021 Sustainability Report. You can read it here. I don’t think of it as a brag book, because anyone who has ever attended the kind of events we help produce knows that our industry generates waste. And for a long time,  the enormity of the challenge kept us from doing anything about it. We took action on the low-hanging fruit, but it wasn’t until 2016 that it became part of our strategic plan — a corporate imperative.

Knowing that you are what you measure, we have pursued a number of sustainability actions and seen good results. But more recently, we’ve become part of the global movement, adopting eight specific UNSDGs — Sustainable Development Goals — to focus our collective efforts and be more transparent about accountability parameters. I have to say that being able to document our progress is not just about walking the talk or policing our commitments. Measuring our incremental progress, however finite, also encourages us to keep up the fight — something our people, our clients, and our colleagues in the industry can all use. Maybe this is self-serving, but it feels good to be part of something bigger than ourselves, something that contributes to the greater good.

For the third year in a row, Freeman has been tracking its carbon footprint and we are also involved in the Net Zero Carbon Events initiative, hosted by the Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC). Over the coming year, we will work collaboratively with others in the event industry to help define a net-zero roadmap aligned with the targets of the pledge. That roadmap will be launched at COP 27 later this year.

In the meantime, we’ve made steady progress. We are replacing printed badges at event registration with digital badges that live on smart phones. Instead of foamcore, we are using more Honeycomb, a 100% recyclable product, as the default substrate. We collected and recycled 2,600 pounds of used uniforms. We contracted with Electronic Recyclers International, Inc. (ERI), to keep our used-up tech devices out of landfills.

We’ve come a long way since the days where ignorance was bliss — when throwing things out meant they disappeared entirely from our conscience and our consciousness, if not the planet. Today, we are proud to focus on what the UN calls, “a global blueprint for dignity, peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and in the future.”

That’s sufficient inspiration to keep waste down; we will work harder to measure up.

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