Beef on Carrots

September 22, 2010

In economics, positive and negative incentives are often referred to as "carrots" and "sticks". A carrot is a colorful, nourishing food and is the symbol for positive reinforcement. A stick is a drab object and capable of being used as a low-grade weapon, thus a symbol for negative reinforcement. These ideas are probably not new to you.

What is also probably not new to you is attending a "green this" conference or "sustainable that" conference. They are everywhere and one could spend every hour of every working day attending these get togethers of environmental pundits and thinkers.
I am about to attend two such conferences this week: the Green Works conference in Atlanta and the Net Impact conference at the University of Michigan. As I prepare for them, I am thinking about how beneficial these conferences are to me and to the world. To me, they are great networking opportunities, both to learn of new ideas and to hopefully meet potential clients. To the world, I am less convinced of the positive impacts. For any conference, folks travel from far and wide to attend. Plane rides are taken. Cars are driven hundreds of miles. Hotel rooms are used. Meals are delivered in throw away packaging. I am left wondering if the positive, new, additional actions and outcomes of the conferences even offset the environmental impact of those attending event?
My "beef" on conferences is that there are so few carrots given to conference attendees. Not once have I been offered a carrot to take more efficient carbon mode of transportation to a conference. Not once have I been offered a carrot for staying in a LEED-certified hotel or B&B. Not once have I been offered a carrot for declining the wasteful packaging of "to go" meals.
My point to you is this: if you are coordinating a conference -- Think Carrots!

* Offer a 5, 10, 15% rebate to attendees who travel by train, bus, or bicycle (respectively)
* Offer a 10% rebate to attendees who stay in a LEED-certified hotel
* Offer a lower conference rate ($20/meal) to attendees who bring their own lunch/dinnner There are hundreds of more ideas, I'm sure, that you smart readers can come up with on your own.
Think carrots.

Jeff Gowdy Consult:
Twitter: @JGowdyConsult




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