Every month we shine the light on an Event Greening Forum member who is making noteworthy achievements in their event greening efforts. This month we feature sustainability consultant and the founder of Steadfast Greening – Grace Stead.
Q. WHEN AND WHY DID YOU START TO DEVELOP AN AWARENESS ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY, AND A DESIRE TO CHAMPION IT THROUGH YOUR WORK?
While working as a town planner for the municipality, I was asked to coordinate the Local Agenda 21 Program, which is the UN program for sustainability focusing on local governments. It started off a side project, but I soon realised that everything we do needs to be more sustainable. I did a lot of community based work in the townships at that point, and also developed the first draft of the green building guidelines. In 2006, I got involved with the ICLEI World Congress (Local Governments for Sustainability) where I was responsible for event greening, leading to starting up Steadfast Greening to promote sustainability with a focus on the events industry.
Q. AS A SUSTAINABILITY CONSULTANT, WHAT ARE YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGES? AND WHAT’S YOUR SECRET WEAPON TO OVERCOME THEM?
The biggest challenge I find is that people agree what needs to be done, but simply don’t do it. I find that by making it personal and helping people to understand what they can do, and why, it encourages people to do things differently. The second big challenge is that the small number of people who are driving sustainability often get “burnt out” because they are constantly swimming against the stream. A big portion of my time is simply spent on encouraging people to keep fighting the good fight, as I am seeing the difference and believe that we are making an impact.
The biggest challenge I find is that people agree what needs to be done, but simply don’t do it.
Q. WHAT KEEPS YOU MOTIVATED AND OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THE WORK YOU DO, IN SPITE OF THE SCALE OF MANY OF THE SUSTAINABILITY PROBLEMS WE ARE FACING (LIKE CLIMATE CHANGE)?
I believe we can and do make a difference and that keeps me motivated. It is the small wins that help to keep me on track, while I am also very aware of the bigger threats that face us. Ironically the Eskom blackouts or current severe drought are levers that we can use to push people to change their habits. It is only when we face severe problems that we really change the way we do things and understand why it is critical.
Ironically the Eskom blackouts or current severe drought are levers that we can use to push people to change their habits. It is only when we face severe problems that we really change the way we do things and understand why it is critical.