Since its beginning on April 22nd, 1970 the goal of Earth Day has been to raise awareness of the effect our everyday activities have on our environment, climate and the health and well being of every plant and animal that calls Earth home (your kids included).
To help celebrate 45+ years of Earth Day, thousands of government, business and community groups in over 180 countries will be organizing Earth Day events. It’s estimated that over 500 million people will participate in various Earth Day activities.
Every manager and business owner has the ability to make an impact by encouraging employees to get involved. Several recent employee surveys show that morale and employer confidence increases as businesses implement productive green initiatives. The benefits are also seen across many other areas of business.
On the operations side going Green has proven to be a very smart financial decision by saving money in the long run with less expensive energy costs and money saved on items like reclaimed equipment. Consumers in numerous recent surveys have said they’re more likely to do business with an eco-conscious company.
While many of us instinctively understand the long term rewards of going green, employees are far more likely to be motivated by immediate rewards than they are the long term benefits for the business.
It’s also been noted in several studies that people tend to go green at home but do the very opposite behaviors at work because they don’t reap those long term rewards. This is an unfortunate situation of “If it doesn’t help me and I’m not paying the bills, why bother turning off my PC at the end of the day?”
The best way to motivate employees is to embrace the simple changes need to make a positive impact. Find rewards that make it worth their while. Make going green as easy as possible and most importantly, to lead by example.
Here are some simple ideas you can use to celebrate Earth Day this year at your office.
- Purchase bus tickets or bus passes for your employees on Earth Day
- Arrange an office wide car pool day
- If it’s nice outside encourage employees to bike to work
- There may be a few old standard light bulbs hanging around your office. Make it a team effort to replace these with compact florescent light blubs
- Many offices have one or two recycling bins set up. Studies show increases in recycling participation with more stations that are easily accessible. There are many small recycling containers on the market that can be placed under every desk.
- Encourage your employees to bring in reusable lunch containers and reusable coffee mugs
- Consider purchasing a water cooler instead of bottled water
- Replace office paper and paper towels with paper products made from recycled material
- Adopt a “Double-Sided” Policy when printing interoffice correspondence
- Try to be paper free for the day
- Consider recycling or donating old computers by arranging for a computer recycling firm to pick up old equipment or contacting local school boards to see if they are in need of computer equipment.
- Consider setting up a cell phone recycling day when every employee with old phones can bring them in – its estimated that every 18 months 14 million phones are discarded in Canada – only 5% of these make it to a proper recycling facility
- Switch to a green office cleaning company or request that your current company use on non-toxic cleaning supplies
- Encourage employees to power down computer equipment at lunch and at the end of the day
- If feasible, turns off the office lights at lunch time
- Have an employee driven environmental challenge for the week. The challenge could be not to use disposable cups, going car free, or turning off workstations and lights at the end of the day.
- Raise money to donate to a local environmental group. Employee donations could be matched by the company.
- Highlight your internal green plan to employees, clients and suppliers.
- Purchase renewable power for the day, week, month or the whole year.
- Screen a film or arrange for digital copies to be distributed which address issues about the environment. The Planet Earth series has a series of amazing documentaries on different parts of the world as well as a segment on human interaction with the Earth.
- Start an EcoTeam or committee by bringing together interested people on Earth Day.
- Plant a tree.
I hope you find some of these ideas useful. If you have any other ideas, we would love to include them on our list. Please let us know your thoughts.
For additional ideas of rewards your company can offer to employees for participating in Earth Day initiatives, you can also visit www.plantyourtree.ca for details about our tree planting gift card items.