Green fatigue: Feeling blue in a world of green

Green fatigue: Feeling blue in a world of greenI am going to warn you right from the start: If you live in a world where unicorns roam, double rainbows are a daily occurrence and the air is scented with the smell of caramel corn….perhaps you shouldn’t read this. Things are not as rosy as they seem.

Here it goes: “I am a Green Meeting Planner and I think/ am pretty sure/not officially diagnosed yet, that I might be suffering from green fatigue.”

It’s true. Lately I have been feeling blue in my world of green – lacking motivation, inspiration and generally overcome with a feeling of emotionally charged eco-malaise. Surprisingly, my invisible superwomanesque green meeting planner cape has not protected me from this feeling of malcontent.

Reality check

Green fatigue has many definitions: Some define it as being so overwhelmed with the environmental paradox that apathy takes over. Others define green fatigue as a form of hopelessness or guilt. I prefer to define green fatigue as a self-imposed reality check, a manifestation of emotions so intense that you simply cannot avoid them unless you choose to stick your head in the sand. (In Canada, sometimes we use snow).

Do I make a difference? Am I making an impact? Does anyone care?

The realities are clear. Choosing to work in the green meetings industry is choosing a road less travelled. Yes, even in 2013, green meetings are the exception and not the rule. The less travelled road can be lonely, and sometimes you feel like no one is listening.

I laugh a little when I talk about the “invisible” cape that green meeting planners wear, but it isn’t that far from the truth. We enter initial meetings with potential clients wearing our invisible cape draped across our broad shoulders; it helps us to defend against stereotypical responses and those who aren’t convinced that sustainable events are a good fit for their organization. We prepare to meet the arguments, and we research case-specific green meeting kryptonite to ward off the very real possibility that we will be told “no, not this year.” After awhile it seems like our cape begins to be less effective.

Looking to peers

Convinced that I was the only one out there feeling this way, I reached out to my colleagues, including Nancy Zavada, CMP, Principal of MeetGreen and Co-founder of the Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC).

“Do you ever suffer from green fatigue?” I asked.

“All the time!” Nancy exclaimed. “Sometimes I am frustrated and wonder if I have the energy to continue. For me, the solution when I am overwhelmed with the feeling of ‘why bother’ is simply getting back to nature. A couple of hours amongst the trees reminds me of why I do what I do.”

Nancy went on to explain that “meetings are what I know; this is how I can make the most impact,” and reminded me that small wins are just as important as the big ones. Nancy and I both agreed that the enthusiastic GMIC community, and specifically attendance at the annual GMIC conference, were ways to re-energize.

The fog lifts

Bolstered by the knowledge that none of us are alone in feeling a little blue in our world of green, I began to feel better. I am pretty certain that my fog of green fatigue has moved on, but in case you find yourself enveloped in it when you least suspect it, I have come up with some tips to help cope:

  • Remove head from sand (or snow)
  • Remember your “why”: Revisit the reason you first got involved in the sustainable meetings industry. What inspired you?
  • Remember the “who”: Who got you excited about sustainability?
  • Take solace in the fact that you are not the only person in the green meeting industry who feels this way.
  • Revisit success – remember how you felt after creating your first successful, sustainable event.
  • Embrace your community – your community will support you (i.e. Eventprofs, GMIC, PCMA, MPI).
  • Give back – volunteer within your community, and make someone else feel better. It has a strange way of going full circle and making you feel better.
  • Celebrate small wins – they are just as important.

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