25 ideas for companies to support Earth Day

Paul

by Paul van Schie

Fifty years ago on April 22, 20 million Americans took to the streets to peacefully protest for environmental reform and to raise awareness about environmental issues. Today, Earth Day is celebrated each year on April 22 in 192 countries and is widely considered the largest secular holiday in the world.

This day inspires some 100 million people all over the world to get involved in protecting the earth, and it’s is being referred to as the largest online mass mobilisation in history. Although the coronavirus pandemic has derailed many plans for Earth Day 2021 celebrations, environmental advocates are still committed to making this the biggest Earth Day celebration yet.

Increasingly, our customers and other large companies are supporting the movement as well. Drawing inspiration from our daily practices and initiatives that have been started around the globe, here are 25 ways to mobilise employees to support Earth Day in 2021.

Mobilise employees to support Earth Day

Ideas to spark environmental awareness

  1. Organise a Virtual Earth Day Celebration. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from this pandemic, it’s how to effectively use Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facebook Live and other video-chatting applications. Last year, Galveston Bay Foundation celebrated on Facebook Live from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday. The event featured ideas on how to celebrate Earth Day at home, plus programming on actions that produce a healthy planet.
  2. Invite an expert to speak to your people. One of the best Earth Day event ideas we’ve seen in action, is when companies get experts on sustainable development to do a talk for their employees. These events spark real change in people. There are so many amazing topics to cover, and a staggering amount to learn if your employees are on board with your goals.
  3. Thank supporters of your company’s green efforts. Incentivise others to join as well, with green prizes for the greenest employee.
  4. Organise a compost class. Have an environmentalist (or a coworker already familiar with composting!) come in and show your people how to start your own compost. Learn what a compost even is and how it can benefit the environment.
  5. Invite in a wildlife protection group. Workers can learn what these groups do, what they are protecting exactly and how they can get involved if they want to!

Ideas to spark environmental action

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  1. Reward your clients & customers for being green. Earth Day is about being part of the same global community. To celebrate it, pick some Earth Day activities that remind your clients and customers that you appreciate their green efforts. Incentivise with discounts for customers who recycle
  2. Theme days: Come up with themed days for one week and give workers points for posting about them on social media. Have them mention the workplace challenge and a fact about Earth Day and conservation that relates to that day’s theme.
  3. Encourage people to participate in worldwide movements like Billion Acts of Green, or Earth Hour. Some companies match an employee’s green pledge with a green act such as planting a tree.
  4. Organise local volunteer opportunities for employees to mark Earth Day. Include park cleanups, recycling drives and composting projects.
  5. Challenge 1 – Go meatless. Or take it one step further by committing to eating green. Plant-based diets have a significantly lower environmental than meat-based ones, since livestock production contributes a large share of the world’s carbon emissions which in turn contribute to global warming. Being vegan for a day is a fun challenge to take on while at the same time reducing environmental impact!
  6. Challenge 2 – Pick up trash. Have employees go together (or on their own!) to choose an area in the community to help clean up. Challenge each worker to fill a specific amount of trash bags — even make it a fun competition.
  7. Challenge 3 – Ask your people to communicate. Let people call for climate action by posting on social media so that friends, family, and acquaintances know this is an issue they care about.
  8. Challenge 4 – Plant a Tree. Trees serve several important environmental functions, including reducing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and helping purify the air. A fun way to celebrate Earth Day while getting outside is to plant a tree in your own backyard!
  9. Challenge 5 – Plogging. Go “plogging” – picking up litter while jogging – which benefits our community and ourselves.
  10. Challenge 6 – workers to see how little plastic they can use that week. The person with the least amount of used plastic wins! Reusable plastic does not count!
  11. Challenge 7 – Change up workplace happy hour. Instead of after-work drinks, go for a post-work hike or online yoga class.
  12. Challenge 8 – Email chain. Assign each coworker a day to send an environmentally friendly hack via email to the company listserv. Maybe they will teach their coworker about a low water dishwashing method, an alternative to plastic sandwich bags and more.
  13. Challenge 9 – Challenge workers to use less water. Cut back while brushing your teeth, washing your hands, washing dishes, taking showers, washing your car and more. Have workers share how they’ve been going about this to inspire others to do the same.
  14. Challenge 10 – Use less electricity as well. Challenge people to use their air conditioning less when it’s hot and the heat less when it’s cold. Turn lights off when they are not being in use, and, if not already implemented, install energy saving lights that turn off when motion has not been sensed in a certain amount of time.
  15. Challenge 11 – Create a compost bin. Compost helps feed the soil, which in turn aids plant growth and can fuel a home-garden in your backyard! Composting, instead of throwing away, food scraps like coffee grounds, fruit scraps and vegetable waste also keeps these organic materials out of landfills
  16. Host a green online fundraiser. Have you ever raised money for an inspirational cause? What better cause than our planet! These particular Earth Day ideas for your company can be combined with some of the others. Your green team will pick a cause or organization – and your company will raise money for that cause.  There are hundreds of creative ways to fundraise these days, and the best ways are online. Create a jog-a-thon, push-up-a-thon or sing-a-thon for pledge-based fundraising. Whether you have a social responsibility budget or not, there are so many great ways you can raise money. Remember to end in a big finale on Earth Day, when the money/prizes are awarded in person!

 

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Ideas to spark lasting change

The best way to spark lasting change towards creating more impact in your organisation, is by involving HR and other departments into your sustainability program and activate purpose. Other ideas to create lasting change:

  1. Establish a green team taskforce. If you don’t have a green team yet, 2021 is a great year to establish one on Earth Day. Your green team taskforce will help you understand how your company will be more green and sustainable in the future.Green teams either operate on a volunteer basis, or positions can be officially appointed. Use Earth Day as the day you announce yours – plans in hand. Corporate green teams are incredible for workplace culture. They motivate employees, encourage other sustainable brands to do business with you, and they genuinely make your business greener.
  2. Launch an incentives-based recycling program. Why not launch an office recycling program in honor of Earth Day? The average employee creates an enormous amount of waste every month, waste that harms the earth and your pocket. Take paper for example – a single office worker uses a sheet of paper every 12 minutes! The bigger the company, the more you save – Apple saves tens of millions of dollars a year by recycling.
  3. Commit to Changes in Habits. Organise challenges designed to get everyone to make at least one important commitment to reduce their climate impact. Commitments range from turning vegetarian to replacing lightbulbs with LEDs.
  4. Set future conservation goals. Hold your office accountable for the future. Don’t just protect the Earth during Earth day (or week!) Make it a priority to continue these new methods and make them company policy.

How to celebrate Earth Day every day

The Earth Day holiday serves a wonderful purpose of getting the world excited about protecting our planet. But the larger goal behind the holiday is to promote this type of activity every day. Challenge yourself to take these Earth Day practices and make them an everyday habit. Inspire people to clean up trash on your morning run, turn off the water when they brush their teeth, ride with friends heading the same direction and challenge friends, family and colleagues to do the same!

Sources used for this article (1, 2, 3, 4).