Two written characters form the Chinese expression for ‘crisis’: the first symbol means ‘danger’ and the second is ‘opportunity.’ Al Gore used the Chinese expression in the introduction to his global warming essay published in Vanity Fair‘s special green-issue last May. Since then, Gore has achieved almost rock star status and has been called an environmental hero, credited with bringing climate change into the public agenda.
Environmental events have become hot tickets and Toronto saw two of them the evening of Feb. 21. The first was a much-hyped Gore appearance at the University of Toronto. The second event featured lesser-known environmental warriors at the 2nd Annual Environmental Printing Awards, presented by PrintAction magazine.
The private gala, held in the recently-renovated Palais Royale, recognized high standards of environmental responsibility in the printing industry. The awards had its own big names lined-up: Fine Art Photographer, Edward Burtynsky and keynote speaker, the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney.
This year’s choice for keynote speaker became obvious by the end of the evening. Mulroney, recently named Canada’s greenest Prime Minister by corporate responsibility magazine Corporate Knights, revisited the days of acid rain and his government’s actions to eliminate the problem that became a serious issue for Ontario, Quebec and Eastern Canada. His government’s other achievements included establishing a $3 billion Green Plan to fund environmental research and spearheading the Montreal Protocol, an ozone layer agreement still seen as one of the greatest international efforts for the environment.
Addressing the current media frenzy over issues like Kyoto and political polls, Mulroney told the crowd, “The private sector must do their part as the government cannot do everything . . . and can achieve better success than anything that can take place in the House of Commons. Only the private sector can make it work.”
Photographer Edward Burtynsky took the stage to share a slideshow of world-renowned photos covering environmental globalization issues which have been featured in National Geographic and Adbusters. Burtynsky’s photographs showed the dwindling amount of green still left on the planet. He pointed out that in “the state of the world today . . . Canada is the right lung (of forestry). And we are the custodians.”
Insiders know why Forest Stewardship Certification is important. They also know how some printers are starting to return water they’ve used in the printing process back to nature even cleaner than they found it. The one thing everyone was talking about while mingling with the heavyweights after the awards ceremony was the level of communication between companies and how they aim to inspire each other.
Dick Kouwenhoven is the President and CEO of Hemlock Printers Inc. After accepting the night’s biggest and last award, Most Environmentally Progressive Printer, his speech echoed a recurring theme from most of the winners that night. “There is no reason profit needs to be sacrificed for environmental progress.”
For a full list of award winners and photos and information on corporate environmental responsibility, go to www..printaction.com/epa