While some people skip happily through their sustainable event checklist I confess there are some decisions that I find decidedly swampy.
For years we've been trained that eliminating paper is a cardinal rule for reducing our impact at events.
Every single time I read or hear that piece of advice this image comes into my mind.
Meet the Geigers. Or a few of them, at least. They're 6 in total: Dad Andy, Mum Jaci and four lovely kids: Aedan, Isaac, McKenna and Josiah. Aedan just passed his swimming badge and busts some awesome Party Rock Anthem moves. Isaac loves to skateboard and wants his uncle to teach him how to use a bow and arrow. McKenna holds her own with her big brothers and loves watching musicals with her Mum. Josiah? He's the new little guy on the scene: the King of the Jolly Jumper.
They're four of the nicest, happiest kids. No doubt a tribute to the good work of their parents and grandparents (given Auntie Shawna has only exposed them to bad things, like video games).
Their Mum, my sister, is a busy, full-time parent with a beautiful singing voice and loads of creative talent. Their Dad is a patient, easy-going man who works hard at the local pulp mill to make sure they're all cared for. It's a profession he shares with his father, and his brother. A profession in an large industry of loggers, truck drivers, long-shoremen and mill-workers that has helped support another sister of mine and her two children, four of my uncles and 11 of my cousins. Forestry even raised my father, and therefore in a way, myself.
Where would my Dad be, where would I be, without forestry? Every time I hear "eliminate paper use at your event" my stomach trips a little. Especially when I wonder too, where will the Geigers be if the trend continues?
So few things about sustainability are simple and easy. Sometimes an apparently 'good' action has a negative reaction. Sometimes there's a spectrum of possibilities on which you can find a happier medium for all. Purchasing paper from sustainably harvested forests or mills that use recycled materials and adopt strong environmental practises in paper production, for example. Open your mind to the possibility this might be as good a choice as being paper free.
Sustainable choices are enabled by putting a human face on each decision you make. Looking at that face and answering for yourself: are my choices creating a good or better future for you? And those you care for?
So don't be surprised if you see some paper at my next event. Andy Geiger made it. And I want him to be able to keep making it, for Jaci, Aedan, Izzy, Kenna and the King of the Jolly Jumper.