It’s been 44 years since the first Earth Day was held by Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, and much progress has been made in the environmental movement since that first celebration. Today, more than 1 billion people in at least 193 different countries participate each year, according to the Earth Day Network – making it the most expansive civic observance across the globe. It goes without saying that Earth Day is the perfect time to reconsider your company’s sustainability initiatives. More than likely, there are a number of ways your business could adopt environmentally-friendly practices, and this green-focused holiday presents an opportunity to assess what improvements are realistic.
There are plenty of small efforts that can make a big difference in a firm’s eco-footprint. Here are a few ideas to make your office more green this year.
With the arrival of springtime, it might be worth encouraging staff members to consider alternate forms of commuting to work – whether that means taking public transportation, biking or walking, when possible. Inc. magazine recommended providing bike racks outside the office for cyclists and offering bus or subway passes to employees to inspire them. You could even reward workers with gift cards and transit vouchers when they walk, bike or take public transportation to work. Post a sign-up sheet somewhere in the office so that people who live close to one another can set up a convenient carpool.
Try out telework
More companies are embracing telework, as these initiatives can offer employees greater flexibility with their work-life balance, cut costs and wasted time from commuting, reduce office needs for space and supplies and moreover, reduce a company’s eco-impact. If your company isn’t ready to take the plunge on a full telework program, consider testing it out for Earth Day by giving employees the option to work from home. To ensure these efforts are successful, you may want to provide staff members with laptops and hold a training session on effective strategies for maintaining productivity outside the office.
A Green lesson
A great way to start the conversation about greener business on Earth Day is to have a lecture. National Business Furniture suggested hosting a speaker who is knowledgeable about environmentally-friendly practices and can give useful advice. Afterward, you can have an open Q&A forum so that staff members can gain more insight into how they might make a difference on a personal level.
Another method for increasing your employees’ green intelligence is to create online courses on the subject. There are likely easy changes that all staff members could be making in the office and at home for sustainability purposes, and elearning software provides an easy way to get that information across.
If you make recycling more fun for your staff members, they’re more likely to make the effort. For example, you could divide the company into teams by department or function and give each their own bin – whichever one collects the most recyclable materials on Earth Day or within the week could get a gift card to a restaurant that emphasizes local ingredients or store with a green reputation. You could also ask staff to bring in clothing, books or other items from home they’re not using to donate to a cause.
Plant a tree
Consider having a company-wide tree planting ceremony. Not only is this a great bonding activity for staff, but it demonstrates to the surrounding community, clients and partners that the firm has a strong commitment to protecting and preserving the environment.
You could also try bringing more greenery into the office. Plants have a natural air purifying effect, and as an added bonus, a study by the University of Exeter found that staff creativity spiked by 45 percent and productivity increased by 38 percent when they were present in the workplace.