Cleveland’s EarthFest 2010 at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo on Sunday brought out more than 12,000 people – despite the damp, chilly weather. It was a good day for sustainability communications and education.
And, yet, from an environmental impact, it was far from a tree-hugging utopia. Hundreds and hundreds of cars were in the parking lot (even though admission was free for taking public transportation), there were more than 175 exhibits, made from a variety of materials offering paper handouts, and the cleanup crews were seen regularly hauling large, fully loaded trash bags.
The purpose here isn’t to blast attendees and organizers. It would be hypocritical – I drove there, I handed out and picked up printed materials, and I contributed to the waste stream. It’s just a dose of reality for all of us, as we undertake sustainability initiatives and communicate them. The pursuit of an increasingly sustainable lifestyle is admirable, and individual and corporate commitments in this regard need to be incentivized and celebrated.
However – for most of us, at this time – expecting, demanding and pursuing perfection (zero waste or no environmental impact, for example) is probably not a good use of our limited time and resources.
On the other hand, it can be done, as proven by Colin Beavan, the author of No Impact Man. But, is that how you want to live?