Today is Earth Day, an annual reminder to be a little kinder and gentler to our planet and the communities in which we live. We began posting tips for things you can do in the workplace on Earth Day almost 10 years ago and will continue the tradition until we see a reversal in the negative impact our actions have had on and a renewed commitment by our global governments to preserving the environment.
This year, however, our post also includes things we can do at home (especially those of us who may work from our abodes on occasion) to show some love to planet Earth.
We also are gearing up for our own event next year, which will pay homage to the founder of Earth Day, the late Sen. Gaylord A. Nelson, who in his prescient wisdom understood back in 1970 that we needed to be considerate caretakers of our global communities.
Earth Day 2019
1. Recycle or donate company smart phones and devices
If your company enjoys staying ahead of the tech curve by getting the latest models of smart phones, tablets, and laptops, don’t discard the left-behind devices. After removing sensitive data, donate the items to local women’s shelters, youth programs promoting access to technology, and senior citizens who could make good use of the unwanted devices.
2. Say goodbye to paper
Help Mother Earth by eliminating unnecessary paper in the office. Whether discarding old memos, outdated company procedures, or decades old personnel files, eliminating the deluge of paper can have a positive impact in the workplace. By scanning and electronically storing essential documents, offices can decrease paper use resulting in cost saving, the preservation of trees, increased storage space, and the reduction of mold and spores.
To conserve energy, turn off the power in rooms at work – unoccupied offices, the restroom, and cafeteria – that are not in use. Energy efficient light bulbs, including those operated by automatic sensor to turn lights on and off, are easy to use and cost-effective. Conserving energy helps the planet, and reduces your office electric bill. Use those saved dollars for employee bonuses instead!
3. Form an alliance with a green-friendly company
Considering a new strategic alliance or partner? Then, think about engaging a green company that has as its mission conservation of energy, the elimination of waste, and a demonstrated commitment to community greening efforts. Forming partnerships with other companies or patronizing vendors with a green work ethic creates an opportunity to work together in a conscientious way. Plus, it doubles the number of staff – your company and theirs – who can work efficiently and generate long-term green efforts beyond Earth Day.
Many local government agencies have sustainable and green offices that are a treasure trove of information to help companies, small and large businesses alike, conserve and lessen their carbon footprints. Visit their sites or social media pages for helpful suggestions and resources.
4. Ditch the plastic
Replace plastic utensils with silverware and bring your own coffee cups to work – ditching the Styrofoam and plastic ones. Using cutlery can eliminate waste and save corporate dollars. Some health experts believe that Styrofoam and plastic have a negative impact on the body. So, ditching the plastic may not only help the planet; it may benefit your personal health as well. Gaining in popularity, paper straws are another option to plastic.
5. Use recyclable bags
State and local governments have been banning plastic usage by restaurants and charging a small plastic bag fee in grocery stores to discourage its use. A better option is to use recyclable bags for your purchases.
Tip: If you’re inclined to forget to take your bags on your Target runs or trips to the grocery store, keep a few assorted sized bags in your car trunk, storage compartment on your bike, or tuck neatly into your purse or backpack.
6. Take a tech break
In the workplace, taking a tech break may be a little bit more challenging than implementing at home (see below), but it can be done. For example, we have Strategy Day on Monday, which is the perfect day to take a break from being constantly connected to our email, smart phones and other technology. It is a day of reflection, talking through solutions, and brainstorming initiatives, impact and interaction with our strategic alliances and partners. This approach helps us save on energy and fuel costs and encourages productivity.
Whether you are single or have a large family, taking a tech break at home can reduce your Wi-Fi, electric and cable bills. It is also a great way to reconnect with loved ones, encourage physical activity and exercise, and help us catch up on household chores we have neglected because we were binge-watching Game of Thrones.
7. Alter your chore schedule
Speaking of household chores, you can conserve energy by managing tasks during optimal timeframes. For example, running the dishwasher at night and using the quick wash option can reduce energy costs and the amount of water used to clean your dishes. Watering your grass early in the morning, rather than in the middle of the day, is another option that can conserve energy.
8. Take on telecommuting
With gas prices on the rise, telecommuting is a money-saving and efficient way to better our planet. Telecommuting reduces traffic, emissions, and saves energy usage in the workplace. Working at home also has great health benefits, reducing stress that comes from driving to and from work during hefty traffic, being at home when the children arrive after school, and fostering a bit of peace and quiet that is not always present in the workplace or your co-working space.
9. Convert your coworkers
The best way to sustain green activities in the workplace is to engage your coworkers. Make your efforts to conserve energy a contest, work on projects together, and encourage other businesses in your work complex or community to join forces. Organize Earth Day activities, including initiating a recycling plan, planting trees, forming teams to present innovative ways to conserve energy during staff meetings once a month, or bring in an expert to help you and your coworkers implement a strategic green effort at work.
Help free up landfills by donating clothing that can be re-used or repurposed. We have supported our local Dress for Success for a decade, including collecting unwanted – but still stylish – career clothing for women participating in the nonprofit’s programs that connect women to new career opportunities. In addition to clothes, shoes and accessories, like jewelry, are also welcomed donations.
If you have other clothing items or shoes that may not be suitable for the workplace, there are a number of organizations that accept these donations, including Planet Aid, the Salvation Army and Good Will. In addition, organizations like Habitat for Humanity and their ReStores accept household item donations that raise monies to support their housing initiatives.
Have a green tip for the workplace or home? Leave us a reply below.
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About the Author: Kesi Stribling