Do you mean it when you say it?

On the plane home from the ASAE Annual Meeting last night, I spent some time thinking about ASAE & The Center's new social responsibility initiative which was unveiled/promoted at the Annual. I'm excited about the possibilities it will unleash in leveraging the millions on associations members around the world toward a greater good.

But once an individual or an organization plants a stake in the ground and says, "This is what I/We stand for and believe in" every effort will be filtered through the lens of that conviction.

To that end, I was dismayed to see bottled water as a meeting break beverage concerning all the recent press about the costs associated with transporting water around the world and the petroleum that goes into making the bottles, so many of which are never recycled.

I also found myself considering the value in creating informational banners with an individual meeting's logo/theme/date on them since those immediately become a waste product at the event's conclusion. Huge, highly visible banners were hung across the monstrous walkways in McCormick Place. The functionality of these signs was most helpful, but if we want to be socially responsible, we have to start asking ourselves how can we minimize/eliminate unnecessary waste from every aspect of what we do?

And venues like McCormick can be part of the solution by thinking about ways they can enable less wasteful signage options for organizations to sue in their facility; i.e., blank screens upon which colorful signs can be projected from slides, etc. I'v got to think the electricity involved in doing that is less wasteful than all of the associated costs that hundreds of organizations incur making thousands of banners each year.

It all comes down to that challenge of alignment between values and behaviors. Once you start to talk the talk ... well, you know what has to come next.