You get used to weird and (sometimes not so) wonderful things appearing on your desk a) in this line of work and b) working for this company. If it isn't a PR hack sending a bag of jelly snakes with a pun related to some new product release, it's the financial controller walking around the office at night leaving a trail of chocolate like a surrogate Easter Bunny. Not that I'm complaining; I like sweets.
When I turned up for work one morning last week, there was an egg-timer of blue sand attached to a suction cup on my desk. A quick glance around the office suggested this was more likely to be the work of the 'Easter Bunny' than a PR stunt. But it wasn't until a couple of hours later, when an email from the managing director landed in my inbox, that all became clear. No, it wasn't an indication of how long I had to clear my desk and get out; it was, apparently, a shower timer (presumably for home use).
Behind the gimmick was a serious message about the important role a media organisation like ours has to play in raising awareness about environmental concerns.
It is certainly one of the two major news topics of the day alongside Iraq and broader terrorism reportage. And given that catastrophic climate change tends to play out over long periods of time, George Bush is likely to have replaced Tony Blair as a Middle East peace envoy before the environment leaves the news agenda.
Earlier this year, IDG Communications (ARN's parent company) formed an internal committee to look at how we as a publisher could reduce our impact on the environment. Our magazines are already printed under the International Environmental Management standard ISO 14001, which means the paper is manufactured from sustainable plantation timber sourced from certified forests. We also produce digital editions these days for those who are happy to receive our products in that format.
But there is certainly room for improvement when it comes to the use of resources such as paper and electricity.
We recently had a third-party audit conducted by a sustainability firm and will work towards improving production processes while minimising energy consumption. Encouraging staff to turn off equipment before they go home also has a part to play - every little thing helps.
While our internal efforts are important to us as a company, we can make a greater impact through fostering discussion that influences the thinking of business leaders within the broader IT and business community.
In September, the ARN IT Industry Awards '07 will have a green theme and the night will see a significant sum raised for national non-profit organisation, Clean Up Australia. Following a number of requests, the deadline for awards submissions has been extended to July 27 and I'm sure many of you have environmental credentials worth bragging about.
At the end of this month, we will be hosting a round table lunch in conjunction with HP that takes a broad look at IT and the environment. And, last week, the first episode of our new Channel Watch video series went live with, you guessed it, an environmental theme. You can find it on our homepage at www.arnnet.com.au.
Minimising the IT industry's impact on the environment is a challenging long-term project but at least it is front and centre. Now the talking needs to be backed by action.