Sustainability At This Year’s Conventions


By Stephen Ashkin, The Ashkin Group, Sustainability Dashboard Tools

With all the activities that you’ll find at this year’s ISSA/BSCAI convention, I hope you’ll find time and make specific effort relative to Green Cleaning, and more specifically to Sustainability.  And as such, I want to quickly cover three areas.

 ISSA Interclean

Educational Opportunities:

On Tuesday, October 16th there will be a half-day Green Cleaning University program which is an excellent learning opportunity especially for new sales people as it will cover a host of issues including defining Green Cleaning, prospecting for Green customers, overcoming common objections and more.  Just be aware that a separate registration fee is required, but it is well worth the investment.

Also on Tuesday will be an Update on the Changes to LEED-EBOM.  If your current program is built around the LEED requirements, this will be a very helpful program.  And if you are beginning the journey towards “sustainability”, LEED is the place to start.

Finally on Tuesday will be Create a Culture of Sustainability – Save Green by Going Green.  As the title suggests, this program is designed to help organizations reduce costs.  Not only is this a good Sustainability strategy, but it can help you differentiate from the competition and win new business.

And on Thursday, October 18th, there will be a program on Sourcing Green: Insights From Industry Leaders.  As the title suggests, this program will help you identify sourcing issues which is becoming more challenging as manufacturers continue to innovate.

Sustainability Discussions On the Exhibit Floor:

This year you can anticipate finding a growing number of manufacturers talking about “sustainability”.  So ask exhibitors to explain exactly what they mean.  Are they simply using “sustainability” interchangeably with “green”, or does it mean something different?  If so, can they document their claims?  And are those claims verified by an independent third-party so you can be confident that you won’t be embarrassed in front of your customer for making misleading claims?

Just remember, “green” focuses on reducing health and environmental impacts across the entire life of the product, while “sustainability” goes beyond just the product itself and addresses the broader issue of social equity.  This includes how the manufacturer deals with its employees and communities where they are based.  So just be careful because if you repeat claims about “sustainability” you will ultimately have to address what your company is doing in this regard.

Sustainability & Your Conference Experience:

The following are some ideas that you can consider to help contribute to a more sustainable conference.

Literature.  If you really don’t need it, don’t take it.  Or ask the exhibitors to send you electronic copies.  This will save trees and reduce environmental impacts, and if it saves the exhibitors money it will ultimately save you money as well.

Transportation.  While you might consider buying “carbon offsets” for your airfare, but other things may be simpler and can save you money.  These include taking public transportation, ride sharing and walking.  ISSA provides frequent bus services to the convention site and walking to and from restaurants can be good for the environment and our health.

Food.  Consider ordering smaller portions (do you really need a 32 ounce steak?).  And it is okay to skip the appetizers and desert, or at least share it with your friends and colleagues.  Not only is it often healthier to do so, but the extra food has huge environmental impacts.

Hotel.  Reduce energy and water consumption.  While the weather in Chicago is unpredictable in October, but when leaving the room for the day you can adjust the thermostat to reduce energy and make sure the television and other electrical devices are turned off.

Tipping.  As discussed earlier in this article, what makes Sustainability different from Green is our impact on people.  So in addition to treating service people politely and with dignity, please leave them a tip.  And in addition to tipping food service workers and cab drivers, don’t forget to leave a tip for the housekeepers as our way of recognizing and thanking them for keeping our rooms clean, safe, healthy and sustainable.