It is fantastic to see so many organizations giving awards for environmental causes. It ranges from conservation projects, saving precious resources and recognizing people that have made a difference with innovative environmental projects. They all need to be recognized for their efforts and to inspire future environmental efforts. The amazing thing is most of these awards given are not made of environmentally friendly products. I don't think it is done intentionally, but it happens all the time. Most organizations go to the local awards store. They usually carry the standard Awards made of American Walnut, Acrylic, and leaded crystal.
How to Go Green with Awards?
American Walnut is the standard for the industry. It is beautiful, but is becoming rarer as the years go by. Is there an alternative? The answer is yes! - Eucalyptus Wood. It is grown on plantations in South America. It grows to maturity in 9 years verses multiple decades for Walnut. The neat thing is they cut it off above the roots and it re-grows in another 9 years - A truly renewable resource. The wood has a slightly reddish look to it and has a mild scent to it. Today you find Eucalyptus used for flooring in the United States and now as awards. The flooring industry calls Eucalyptus wood - Lyptus wood. It is easier to pronounce. Acrylic Awards have become very common in the awards industry. Acrylic is petroleum based. Many people mistake it for glass. The awards dealers push acrylic because it is an inexpensive alternative to crystal. Many people don't know that acrylic can hurt the environment (it never decomposes) and drain our precious petroleum resources. Crystal makes for a beautiful high end award. The problem, it may have lead in it. Luckily, today Crystal manufactures have become quite good at substituting other materials for the lead to give the crystal shine. Most awards dealers don't have a clue if their crystal awards are lead free or not. It simply is a crap shoot if it is lead free or not. So what is an organization to do that is presenting environmental awards that are environmentally friendly? The odds are you will not find it at a local awards dealer. You have to look elsewhere.
Ways to Go Green
Environmentally friendly awards are a rather new concept. You hear about "go green" programs all the time. You see Go Green Tote Bags for your groceries, go green in your home with solar energy; factories are going green with energy efficiencies. The list goes on. How about awards going green? This idea came to me at a Phoenix bridal trade show. One seminar speaker talked about a go green wedding. All photos done digitally, even a wedding dress made from hemp. Have the wedding and reception at the same location. She really impressed in me the importance to go green. Also to make me think how an awards business could go green. At first, I thought it was impossible. I all but forgot about the seminar until I attended the Awards and Recognition Association Trade Show in Las Vegas in early 2009. One booth was showing plaques made out of bamboo (a grass). They looked beautiful and then I remembered the seminar in Phoenix. Maybe I could find enough environmentally friendly awards to launch a web site.
Over the next several months I found plaques made from sunflower husks. They look like burl wood. The search continued. I found a source that makes plaques out of recycled newspapers and uses soy pigments to make them look like granite. This is amazing! Then I went to my crystal awards suppliers for lead free crystal. To get the guarantee that they were lead free was a challenge, but I found a source. My seminar speaker back in Phoenix talked about thinking outside of the box. I found a source for old barn wood and have turned them into plaques. This makes great "Go Green" Awards for the agricultural industry. Isn't it time to make your environmental awards environmentally friendly? Think about presenting environmentally friendly awards for you environmental event.