This Earth Month was a great one for me. I finally was able to extend my network and work with people in my community to help implement tools and create processes for change. Typically, I focus on education. But this year, I plan to empower others in their decision-making. This year’s Earth Day theme was “Invest in Our Planet” which called for businesses to implement more sustainable practices. While things like switching to LED light bulbs, adding recyclable paper products to the workspace, and offering remote work are excellent starting points, here are some additional ways companies can still thrive while investing in our planet.
This is a personal mission of mine. Anytime I see piles of paper and large file cabinets anywhere — I itch. Looking at rows of paper is not only unpleasant, but it gives me IRS vibes, and it’s also lifeless. I mean, it’s a bunch of dead trees. You can’t hug them. They give no life. If you don’t believe me, hug your parking ticket. On a serious note, my biggest goal is to go paperless. To assist me in my quest, I’ve begun to rely heavily on digital note-taking apps like Notability and Goodnotes to organize my thoughts and share information. Coupled with a cloud storage system or an external hard drive, it’s much better than paper. Although we do incur a level of e-waste when you use electronics, I’m still for going paperless when you consider space and the labor involved with managing paper.
Make Hybrid Work More Than An Option
More than 35 North American companies and about 20 global companies are testing out a four-day workweek in a pilot program spearheaded by 4 Day Week Global. 4 Day Week Global is a not-for-profit community established by New Zealanders Andrew Barnes and Charlotte Lockhart to create a better quality of life by urging companies to allow for a shortened week. In doing so, companies can offer their employees a greater work-life balance and address some of the causes leading to the Great Resignation. To me, this is a no-brainer. Fewer employees on-site means there is less need for large office spaces, which means lower costs overall. We live in a digitally advanced society, and the pandemic proved that we can work from our computers.
Some people want to come into their office to work, which should be an option. Owl Labs conducted a study of remote work in September of 2021. They surveyed over 2,000 workers and reported 84% of them reported they would be happier working remotely. The internet allows for extended reach — why be limited to a traditional desk if you don’t have to. Employees burn a lot of time grabbing coffee, chatting by the water cooler, and surfing the internet. It’s doubtful these things will change but will shift while employees work at home. But, companies won’t have to pay the lease on buildings, and commuters don’t have to clog up the roads and pollute the air. It makes fiscal sense to keep overhead low and make remote work and hybrid work permanent options, leaving employees to stay focused on work and manage life’s responsibilities without burnout.
Plant Some Trees In An Underserved Community
Companies can really make a difference by funding tree planting. There seems to be a bit of bureaucracy and over complication when it comes to planting trees, but it doesn’t have to be. Yesterday, I bought a grape tree from Ace Hardware and planted it in my yard. It took all of twenty minutes. In a month or so, hopefully I can pick the grapes and make some jam. As you see, no big deal.
Trees produce negative emissions and help mitigate climate risk. Yes, there is a cost associated and decisions to be made regarding the quality of the trees and the how many to plant. But, if you consider the fact that many low-income neighborhoods lack trees, adequate green spaces, or heavily forested areas that provide residents greater opportunities to interact with the natural world, planting a few trees seems like the right thing to do. At 5 dollars a tree plus site preparation this is a good way for companies to walk their talk. The next major step after planting the trees is caring for them. Companies should focus energy there — thinking for the long haul — and watch their green investments grow.
Here are a few organizations already dedicated to this effort: