We all have a role to play in supporting the health of our environment, as the decisions we make at work (and at home) impact the entire world.
April is Earth Month and, along with Earth Day (celebrated on April 22), it’s a chance for organizations to review and spotlight their efforts to support a healthy environment.
What is Earth Month?
Earth Month and Earth Day are observed each year to raise awareness of environmental issues and encourage people to take action to protect the planet, by promoting environmentally friendly practices and policies.
Our planet is facing many environmental challenges, including global warming, pollution, deforestation and the loss of biodiversity. These environmental issues have a wide-ranging impact on human health, the economy and our social well-being.
Earth Month encourages us to focus on these issues and to raise awareness about the importance of proactively looking after the environment. Earth Month also gives organizations and communities the opportunity to come together to take action to protect the environment.
Here are six ways you can reduce your company’s impact on the planet:
1. Reduce your energy consumption.
Switch to energy-efficient lighting and equipment. Update your light fixtures to be motion sensitive, so lights don’t stay on in spaces not being used. And set thermostats to keep office temperatures comfortable only when offices are in use.
2. Recycle and reduce waste.
Make sure your recycling bins are in obvious places… and that their content actually gets recycled. Sometimes this requires a team effort, as not all office buildings support recycling. In your office kitchen, encourage reusable plates, cups and silverware.
3. Encouraging sustainable transportation.
Set up carpooling programs, allow for flexible work schedules to support cycling and consider implementing programs that support the use of public transportation through tax credits and reimbursements.
4. Supporting sustainable sourcing.
Design and implement programs to source products and materials from suppliers who prioritize sustainability and environmentally friendly practices.
5. Make your office greener.
Incorporate plants and natural lighting.
6. Encouraging environmentally friendly practices.
Educate employees about the importance of sustainability and what they can do to make a difference.
By taking these steps, you can reduce your business’s impact on the environment… often while lowering your operating costs and creating a more pleasant and sustainable workplace for employees.
Of course, having a positive impact on the environment isn’t just about being environmentally friendly. It’s also important for organizations to think about environmental justice.
What is environmental justice?
Environmental justice is the guarantee that all people – regardless of their race, color, national origin or income – deserve the right to have clean air, water and land. Unfortunately, environmental justice isn’t guaranteed for everyone, and what people actually get largely depends on their race, where they live and their incomes.
Environmental injustice arose from decades of racial discrimination that kept people geographically divided based on race and income. Despite the progress that has been made in recent years to rectify discriminatory practices, environmental injustice still exists. A 2021 study by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that “black and African American individuals are 34% more likely to live in areas with the highest projected increases in childhood asthma diagnoses due to climate-driven changes in particulate air pollution.”
Creating environmental justice in the workplace
Whether your employees are working in the workplace or at home, it’s vital to ensure they can work in a healthy and safe way. Here are steps you can take to tackle any issues or concerns.
1. Be proactive.
If you see changes you can make to address environmental injustice, don’t wait to be told about them. Changes can include those that positively impact your employees or your community, and they can be small or large.
2. Listen to concerns about your work environment.
Make sure you have a way for employees to report concerns, and encourage them to speak up. But, of course, listening to those concerns and taking action to get to the root of the problem is key. When an employee is disgruntled by what’s happening around them, they want to know that they’re being listened to and feel confident that the problem will be solved.
3. Assess and document risks.
Getting to the root cause of a problem is vital to determine what went wrong and ensure it doesn’t happen again. By actively conducting risk assessments and creating action plans, you can help mitigate potential risks and avoid duplicating existing issues.
4. Keep employees updated.
Demonstrating compassion and attentiveness when issues arise can send a powerful message to show that the company cares about its employees. Make sure you follow up with employees after the problem has been solved to ensure everyone is satisfied with the outcome.
Impactful learning. Made possible.
Electives is an enterprise live learning platform that makes it possible to create meaningful learning impact, even for the busiest leaders, by streamlining the planning, curation, logistics and measurement. The Electives platform offers the perfect mix of quality, quantity and diversity of content, instructors and experiences to cover every use case you can imagine, including sustainability training.