Earth Day will be celebrated this year on Sunday, April 22, 2012. This year marks the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day which was originally conceived as a day to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s natural environment.
The name and concept of Earth Day was allegedly pioneered by John McConnell in 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco. The first Proclamation of Earth Day was by the City of San Francisco on March 21, 1970, the first day of Spring. This day was later sanctioned in a Proclamation signed by Secretary General U Thant at the United Nations where it is observed each
year. About the same time a separate Earth Day was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in held on April 22, 1970.
It’s probably safe to say that when Earth Day was conceived, most business looked at it as some sort of “hippie” thing. However, 42 years later, as environmental friendliness and recycling become second nature to most of us, Earth Day has moved into the limelight. Each year, an increasing number of businesses celebrate Earth Day by sponsoring workplace programs and activities that include e-waste collection and recycling. Every business has the ability to make an impact by encouraging employees to get involved. Here are just a few good and very easy ideas to think about for this coming Earth Day.
- Drive Slower. First on the list is driving! We’re sure you’ve got plenty of employees who drive. Not only encourage your employees to drive a bit slower, but start doing it yourself. It’s been proven through several studies to cut down on gasoline consumption and a big contributor what Earth Day is all about. So there, Mr. crazed, maniac driver getting road rage at those of us driving under 60 mph.
- Turn the Lights Off. No. 2 on the list is turn off the lights if you don’t need them. I’m sure you can remember some older family member in your earlier life telling you to turn off the lights. Yes, turning of the lights when you leave a room can save energy. Even though lighting technology certainly has reduced energy costs especially with the movement away from incandescent lighting to compact fluorescent and more recently to LED, you’re saving energy in the long run if you simply turn off the lights when you leave a room. Also, if you’re lucky and in an office with lots of natural light, turning off the lights during the day especially during the summer months really cools down a room.
- Use Recycle Bins Properly. Many companies have recycling bins. In most cases, people attempt to actually recycle properly by putting paper, bottles, cardboard, packaging materials, etc. in the correct bins. However, shame on those of you who set up the recycle bins and don’t manage them. It actually takes a bit education and encouragement to get a recycling program running properly. Speaking of encouragement, besides the big central recycling bins we see at most companies, there are actually small recycling containers on the market that you can purchase and put under individual desks.
- Create a More Eco-Friendly Kitchen. Some thoughts for the company kitchen include: encouraging employees to bring reusable lunch containers and reusable coffee mugs (it seems that paper cups are just as bad as styrofoam due to the energy used to make them); using a water cooler is way more eco-friendly over bottled water; replacing office paper and paper towels with paper products made from recycled material; and switching to a green office cleaning company or request that your current company use non-toxic cleaning supplies.
- Save Paper. In the office where we still crank out too much paper, most companies have adopted a “double-sided” policy when printing draft documents. However, here’s another angle, which you may or may not consider very eco-friendly. Believe it or not, using two monitors for work really does cut down on paper being printed as there’s less need to print out
documents to view for drafts. On the negative side of this, however, is that you’re adding another energy-sucking machine. However, it really works on reducing your paper needs.
- Recycle & Dispose of Old Electronics. What to do with your old computers, laptops, cell phones, etc. 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. Also, all the large retail groups along with many charitable organizations collect old cell phones to be used for military personnel overseas. And don’t forget how all easy big chains such as Staples Office Depot and Office Max have made it to recycle used toner cartridges. Last, Earth Day is a great day to get an e-waste group in to collect and properly dispose of all the old electronics equipment you have sitting around the office.
- Screen an Eco-Flick. In reverence to Mother Earth, screen a eco-film at the office. The Planet Earth Series from the BBC is a fantastic documentary series about different aspects of Earth. You can download the series on iTunes and show it at lunch.
- Green the Office. Add some green plants in the office. We keep hearing about too much CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. Plants eat CO2 and other gases and make fresh oxygen and we need more of them. In the office, plants definitely help clean indoor air by eating indoor pollutants such as formaldehyde, xylene, benzene, acetone, etc. All the stuff we pack into our offices including carpeting, furniture, ceiling tiles, printers, fabrics, paint, photocopiers, etc. continously give off these pollutants. Some of the best plants for the office that help suck up these pollutants include boston ferns, ficus, pothos, philodendrons, spider plants, dracaenas, and peace lilies. There’s scientific studies on the dramatic benefits that indoor plants add to the air you’re breathing.
HAVE A GREAT EARTH DAY ON APRIL 22ND