Since Earth Day is on the way, I thought I’d take the time to share some tips on starting a corporate green team.
What is a green team?
A green team is a grassroots, self-organized group that comes together with the common goal of educating and inspiring others on sustainability. My hope is that this inspiration goes beyond corporate responsibility and crosses over into our personal lives as well.
Green teams identify and implement specific solutions to help an organization operate in a more environmentally sustainable way. Most green teams initially focus on greening operations at the office, addressing things like recycling, composting food waste, reducing the use of disposable takeout containers and eliminating plastic water bottles.
How do you get a green team started?
Every organization is different, but it’s important to get key stakeholders on board. I suggest getting senior management involved, but it’s important to not lose sight of your grassroots origins. You may also need to engage other departments (facilities management, for example) that can be instrumental in tracking results.
Start by focusing on green efforts around the most visible items, like lighting, commuting, landscape irrigation and cafeteria waste. After you’ve seen and documented success, you’ll be better equipped to implement green efforts in corporate business practices, including design, manufacturing and purchasing.
Ideas for your green team
Premier’s Yes to Green corporate-wide program is a part of our award-winning environmental leadership platform – GreenHealthy®. This team has learned a few things since we began in 2005. Here are some of the tactics that worked for us…perhaps you can use them in your organization!
1. Keep employees informed
Share news, resources and facts on green and environmental initiatives. Our favorite way to do this? A series of lunch and learns, covering a variety of topics like:
- Recycling at the office
- Organic landscaping, gardening and pest control
- Proper recycling of electronics
- Home improvements (rain barrels, insulation)
- Clean streams, green lawns
- Green cleaning
2. Keep it fun!
I suggest playing environmentally preferred trivia-like games with prizes. Or, have an Earth Day celebration!
3. Make it easy.
In our office, all printing is set to a default of duplex printing, which cuts down on the amount of paper used. We have reserved parking spots for hybrid vehicles and for carpooling employees. And, we offer recycling of paper, plastic, bottles, cans, fax toner, ink/printer cartridges, office supplies and electronics,
4. Donate it!
During our corporate office move, we asked our employees to donate any office supplies, electronics and other materials they wouldn’t be taking with them to the new building. We called the project “CubeXcess.” Through CubeXcess, we donated 8,000+ pounds of offices supplies, furniture and more to local non-profit organizations like Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity, Classroom Central, local schools and churches. Because of these efforts, we kept this “stuff” out of landfills and in productive use.
5. Create an environment of accountability and reward.
Ask employees sign a pledge to become more eco-friendly in their everyday lives. Here’s our Yes to Green pledge, which has a 98% response rate!
Abraham Lincoln said:
While I am sure he wasn’t thinking about pollution, waste and energy, I’m going to adopt this quote for all things in life (including sustainability).
Have some good ideas for your green team? I’d love to know how your organization is going green. Let me know in the comments below.