April 22nd marks International Earth Day, the official celebration of the modern environmental movement, which started in the 1970s. The 2021 theme is “Restore Our Earth,” acknowledging that as we go back to “normal” in a post-COVID-19 world, we have more of a responsibility than ever to prevent climate change and protect the environment. What does that mean on a daily basis, both personally and professionally? Here are 5 ways to contribute to the “Restore Our Earth” initiative both in your home and in the workplace:
- Get into a “paper light” mindset: While most of us will never be “paperless” – paper does play a role in our work lives and we can certainly strive to be “paper light.” Only print what is necessary and when printing several pages, go double-sided or use the duplex option. Verify the printer uses 100% post-consumer and recyclable printing paper. Reuse paper in the office as scrap paper for your notes and lists, and ensure that anything printed that was confidential is properly shredded and recycled.
- Make it a habit to recycle: Locate all the blue recycle bins in your office building so you can dispose of recyclable waste properly. Twenty-five percent of people do not recycle because “it’s not accessible or convenient.” If you do not already have one, invest in a shredder to properly dispose of documents that are only for your eyes and cannot be reused. Statistics show that recycling can reduce air pollution by 74%, energy consumption by 64%, and water consumption by 50%. Plus, shredded paper is transformed to create other recycled products and more recycled paper. In our office, we use a Fellowes model to shred trade secret, confidential material before it’s placed in a Blue Bin or with other recyclables.
- Better yet, upcycle: Think of how many containers you might go through in a day or week: A glass jar of jam, a plastic ziplock bag of carrot sticks, plastic bubble wrap from that package that came last week. How often could those be converted rather than tossed? Put some flowers in the jar to display on your desk, wash and reuse the plastic bag, and save the bubble wrap for the next time you send a gift to a friend or loved one.
- Lights off: Remember your parents’ reminder to “turn off the lights?” Whether you are working in a home office space or a corporate building, be mindful of energy usage with lights. Make it a habit to switch them off if they’re not in use. If your office building doesn’t do this already, suggest sensor lights to the management as a great way to reduce energy usage and save costs.
- Carpool – or even better, walk, cycle, or scoot: Though the daily commute might be a moot point at the moment as many of us are still working remotely, now is a great time to consider environmentally friendly ways of transport. Have the same schedule as a colleague? Consider carpooling. Even better, consider walking or cycling to business appointments and work. Many cities are working to build infrastructure that improves the pedestrian and cycling experience for commuting and exploring the city, which cuts greenhouse gas emissions. And as a bonus, it’s great for your physical and mental health.
Restoring our earth is something we can accomplish together. It is the small daily actions at home as well as in the workplace that go a long way. How do you plan to take part in International Earth Day this year? Let us know!
Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she is an attorney and mediator. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She is a winner of numerous awards, including the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.
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