It’s sunrise. The sky is painted hues of pink, purple, orange, and blue. It’s like the color palette of an easy, sunny Saturday morning. The morning sun and all the colors that come with it wake you warmly and remind you to get outside. It’s a nice day to saunter down to the nearest beach, so you do. It is 78 and a Saturday, after all, sheesh. You grab a beach towel, water bottle, and some sandals and take that walk.
Along the way you see flowers, greenery, and that mountain range all the way east with the sunshine cascading down its peaks. When you get to the beach, you plop everything down on a sunny spot in the sand and just listen. Between the crashing waves, sea birds, and seaside chatter, you’ve got a whole symphony. You jump in and go for a quick swim before you surf. Covered in that magic potion of saltwater and sun, your day is going damn well. And why wouldn’t it be? You’re outside.
We enjoy Earth everyday if we’re lucky. From those beautiful sunrises and sunny saltwater swims in the ocean to snowy days on mountain peaks, there are so many things to appreciate about it. If this playful vignette was any indication, Earth gives us more than we can even begin to imagine. So an important question to ask ourselves, especially around this time of year is: What are we giving back?
As you might know, the time of year I’m referring to is Earth Day, or for some, Earth Month. Around late April, you see posts on Instagram with photos of beaches, clouds, mountains, and rivers with the hashtag “HappyEarthDay” and tweets about sustainability, but what is the day really about? Well, simply put, it’s about awareness and appreciation for our environment from the atmosphere to the land and it’s a lot more than just a trendy opportunity to post nature photos on social media.
Earth Day is a perfect time to really think about what I asked earlier: What do we give back to the Earth for all that it gives to us? And, most importantly, what can we do to take better care of it? As life resumes and businesses begin to return to office post-quarantine, now is the perfect time to reflect.
Just in case your brainstorming could use a jolt of inspiration, here are some ways you and your business can reduce your carbon footprint, implement more sustainability, cut down on waste, and be more considerate to the planet as a whole. Ready? Let’s go.
1. Encourage carpooling, biking, or public transportation
If your business is located in a major metropolitan area, like Los Angeles, this is a big way to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Think about offering incentives like transit passes to employees who do opt for more environmentally-friendly transportation to work. Set up a room with bike racks where employees can hang up their bikes and store their helmets after a morning bike ride into work. You get it. Make the idea of coming into work by bike, walking, carpooling, or public transportation more fun and alluring.
2. Use less paper
So many things have gone digital and entirely eliminated any need for paper, but there is a lot of paper usage still happening that doesn’t always need to be. Sure, it might be easy to print out e-mails or presentations for 26 people or use ample amounts of paper for random note-taking, but is anyone stopping to consider how many resources it takes to create even one pack of paper?
Consider going paperless instead. Paperless contracts, paperless presentations, paperless reports, and paperless notes. Give it a try! If that’s too big a move and too fast, start small by printing on both sides of a sheet of paper, shrinking image sizes, or setting printers to not print test pages when they’re turned on.
3. Host recycling drives and community service events
What better way to rally your entire company than through engaging community events like these? Boost your green initiatives by setting up a time for employees to offer up any recyclable goods in a drive. If you’re in an office that has old computers and other unusable electronics stored away, this might be a great opportunity to let go of e-waste and raise awareness.
Another fun one for your employees is partnering with an environmental organization in your area and set up a special event. Whether it’s cleaning up beaches, planting trees and flowers, volunteering with organizations, or donating resources, company-hosted community service events like these are a great way to give back to the planet.
4. Perform an environmental audit
Before diving into or launching any green initiatives, a great place to start is by benchmarking your energy consumption, waste disposal and recycling services, water use, ethical food sources, and employee practices. There’s no being shy in this reflection, because the only way to get a little greener is by being honest about where your business falls short environmentally and where changes can be made. Basically, before going green, you have to have an idea of how ungreen you or your business are.
Fret not though. Regardless of how green or ungreen you are, there are tools out there to help you gauge things like your energy and water use. As for everything else, do your research and choose ethical suppliers, give your employees time off to volunteer, turn off the lights when they don’t need to be on, and buy eco-friendly materials where and when you can.
5. Purchase energy efficient equipment
Did you know that office equipment has been a big source of waste and pollution for years? It produces tons of non-recyclable materials like plastics, hazardous chemicals, and so many non-biodegradable bits that you wouldn’t believe. So, why not green up the equipment in your office?
Some choice ways to do this include: Using rechargeable batteries, recycle old equipment, using smaller solar panels for things like charging small electronics, only buy things with low content of those dangerous chemicals, and using a laptop instead of a desktop computer. They’re much more energy efficient and require less materials for production. Another winner is setting your laptop to energy saving settings. Those are almost aways built in and not very hard to access.
I hope this inspires you and any business you might own to offer up a little more kindness to planet Earth. No matter how often you go outside, the Earth is still doing things for you whether you know it or not.
The ocean produces oxygen through the sea plants that live in it, trees do the same thing (but on land, of course), lakes and rivers provide drinking water, and our atmosphere maintains life as it is with it’s cocktail of 21% oxygen, 78% nitrogen, and 9% argon. It’s always an amazing time to celebrate Earth. At the very least, we should never stop asking ourselves what we can do to help.
See, we got through that without a single hashtag! Happy Earth time, everyone!