How to celebrate Earth Day in the workplace

Earth Day is celebrated annually in countries around the world on April 22. 

It first started in the United States in 1970 but the Earth Day movement has since spread to more than 190 countries. It is a day used to demonstrate support for environmental protection and how individuals, institutions, organizations and businesses can take action on climate change.

Here are five things you can do in the workplace to celebrate Earth Day this year.

1. Pick up trash

A really visible and tangible way to commemorate Earth Day is to organize employees to help clean up an area in the community. Choose an area nearby – a park, beach, other open green space or even just the area directly surrounding your business or office – and start picking up trash. Challenge each worker to fill a specific number of trash bags or make it a friendly competition to see who can pick up the most waste.

It may seem superficial, but all that trash can actually harm the environment. Arsenic from discarded cigarettes can taint soil and water, and plastic pollution can wreak havoc in our oceans and waterways.

2. Institute a workplace challenge

Coming up with an environmental challenge can be a fun way to mark Earth Day and inspire a little friendly competition in the workplace. Challenge everyone to use less plastic for a week – reusable plastic doesn’t count. See how little paper your office can use – turn old files into digital archives and recycle the paper you are saving. Challenge everyone to find creative ways to use less paper. If possible, try going paperless for a week.

Another idea is to challenge everyone to use less water – cut back while brushing teeth, washing hands, washing dishes, taking a shower and washing the car. And have workers share how they’ve been cutting back on water usage to inspire others.

3. Start an email chain

Assign each staff member a day to send an environmentally friendly hack to the company mailing list via email. They might be able to share a new method to cut down on the amount of water used to wash dishes, an alternative to using plastic sandwich bags or ways to cut energy consumption.

4. Find an eco-friendly way to work

Challenge workers to find an eco-friendlier way to get to work – start a carpool with co-workers or friends and family, take public transit or cycle rather than drive to work. 

5. Use less electricity

There are several ways to cut down on energy consumption in the workplace. Look for ways to use the air conditioning less when it’s hot and the heat less during colder months. Turn off the lights when they are not in use – installing energy-saving lights that turn off when motion has not been detected in a certain amount of time is a good way to reduce energy consumption. If that’s not possible, look at replacing old lightbulbs with newer, more energy-efficient ones. 

Implementing any initiative for Earth Day is a great way to see what might work in the long term. You might just find some new ways to incorporate more environmentally friendly practices into your organization permanently.

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