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Earth Day Initiatives for Businesses

Held annually on April 22nd, Earth Day is a worldwide event that raises public awareness and encourages individuals, companies, communities and whole nations to participate in environmental protection activities. The international celebration is an excellent opportunity for companies to reflect on their environmental and social responsibility, and support and work with organizations that are explicitly involved in protecting and restoring the planet. These are worthy efforts to make on Earth Day but of course it is also critical that Earth Day employee engagement is undertaken year-round to be a truly green company. This article will discuss what Earth Day employee engagement looks like and some specific community outreach activities taken from Green Business Bureau’s collection of over 400 green initiatives.

How Businesses Can Embody Earth Day All Year

While it is a worthy ambition for do-good companies to organize special Earth Day activities, it is critical to embody the principles of Earth Day throughout the year. Companies may find Earth Day or the month of April are the perfect time to reevaluate their current environmental impact and progress, revisit any goals left to fulfill and refresh their commitment. This is also an opportunity to be transparent to your employees and stakeholders to show what you have actually accomplished and the plans you have for moving forward.

What a year-long commitment to Earth Day looks like

  • Designate Earth Day as the date you release your annual sustainability progress report or a sustainability mission statement if you have yet to create one.
  • Designate April as the month you research new, innovative ways to incorporate sustainability and environmental stewardship into your business practices.
  • Plan a media release for the end of the month to roll out your new sustainability initiatives.
  • Set year-long company engagement quotas.
    • E.g. Complete a specified amount of community volunteer hours or outreach events with local and partner organizations; plant a certain number of trees on company property or sponsor tree plantings and conservation projects,
  • Use April as the month to educate yourself and your employees on the importance of sustainability and how it ties into each of your initiatives
  • Invite an expert to present to your employees
  • Give employees a day off from the office each month to engage in designated environmental stewardship activities
  • Commit to donating a portion of your profits to sustainability organizations either quarterly, monthly or annually.

GBB Initiatives Perfect for Earth Day Employee Engagement

There are countless activities and ways to encourage Earth Day employee engagement. Partnering with another organization for ideas and guidance can be helpful. Green Business Bureau’s certification process includes three community involvement initiatives that can fit perfectly into your Earth Day agenda. Each of these address different aspects you may consider when determining the best way to get involved this Earth Day.

For Green Business Bureau members, log into your account and find these initiatives under “Community Initiatives” in the Dashboard. Read about how they tie into your larger sustainability mission and complete the key steps at your own pace. For non-members interested to learn more about the tools and services that Green Business Bureau offers, browse your membership options here.

Initiative 1: Become an annual sponsor of an event promoting sustainability in your area

Backed by an ever-growing collection of scientific data and expert insight, there are countless environmental and climate action events being hosted throughout the world. Finding one is as easy as searching for environmental organizations and nonprofits nearest to you and contacting them to inquire about sponsorship opportunities. This is a powerful opportunity to work with professionals in an area you may not be familiar with, gain knowledge from and appreciation for your local sustainability advocates and demonstrate your active involvement to your community.

See a snapshot of the GBB initiative tracker here:

Key Earth Day event considerations

  • What events are already happening in your area?
  • What organizations in your community have projects and programs that excite you? E.g. Forest restoration, climate change mitigation, environmental justice, clean water, etc.
  • Where do the funds raised from such events actually go?
  • Do any of these organizations have sponsorship opportunities?
  • What level of sponsorship is feasible for your company?
  • Do these events include tangible action items? E.g. tree plantings, clean-ups
  • How does this event line up with your company’s core mission, values and pre-existing sustainability initiatives?
  • How does this event advance your progress towards overall company sustainability?

Initiative 2: Place an employee on the organizing committee for the same or another event to achieve maximum involvement and exposure

If your company has sponsored an event, then it is imperative you provide the appropriate staff member(s) to assist the partner organization. This will strengthen your partnership with the organization and demonstrate an active involvement beyond financial aid. Additionally, this will provide your employees with a chance to make their own individual contributions to their community and the planet. This creates a purpose-driven culture and a sense of fulfillment among employees which supports your company’s long-term sustainability mission and goals.

See a snapshot of the GBB initiative tracker here:

Key employee Earth Day involvement considerations

  • Do you already have a green team set in place?
  • If you want to know the benefits of organizing a green team and how to do so, click here to learn more.
  • What are the needs of the organization for the event?
  • Can you involve all members of your green team in the event?
    • For small businesses, can you involve all employees in the event?
  • How can employees most benefit from participating in the event?
  • How can you track employee’s involvement and event success?
  • Will you hold post-event discussions to gain feedback from your employees?
  • How does this contribute to your overall community sustainability and employee engagement initiatives?

Initiative 3: Become an active member of an organization that continually works to improve the environment nationally or in your area

Going beyond single event participation and becoming an active member of an organization will further differentiate your company from your competitors. Unfortunately small organizations and nonprofits working diligently to combat today’s toughest environmental challenges often go underfunded and need all the support and exposure they can get. Your willingness to join their mission as an active member can make a huge impact on these organizations’ success. Committing to making internal sustainability improvements within your own company is already a worthy endeavor. Joining forces with another equally-driven organization is next level commitment and it speaks volumes about what you stand for.

See a snapshot of the GBB initiative tracker here:

Key considerations for forming partnerships

  • Select local organizations whose mission aligns with your sustainability priorities
  • If there are not organizations in your local community that align with your priorities, what national organizations appeal to you?
  • Does the organization track their progress in their intended goals? Will this information be provided to you to ensure you are making a positive impact?
  • Are they transparent and upfront with where your donations go or what your volunteer time is contributing to?
  • Designate your green team leader to routinely check in with the organization to make sure their needs are being fulfilled and you are contributing in a meaningful way
  • How will you communicate the results of this partnership to your employees and other stakeholders? E.g. Company-wide meeting, press release, promotional video, social media posts, etc.

Summary: Earth Day Employee Engagement is a Big Green Step towards Your Larger Sustainability Mission

Earth Day is a global invitation for individuals and organizations to take action and become better environmental stewards both on April 22nd and year-round. The idea of billions of people worldwide collectively making an effort, big and small, to protect the environment is an exciting and inspirational look at what the future could be. Equipped with their teams of experts and innovative thinkers, companies are especially important players in promoting the Earth Day mission. Through active Earth Day employee engagement and embodying Earth Day year-round, companies are turning single day events into lifelong positive movements.

About the Author

Leah Mowery

GBB Green Ambassador

Leah Mowery is a content writer for the Green Business Bureau who is passionate about using creativity and storytelling to relay the importance of sustainability. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal where she discovered a love for sustainable development. She fostered this interest in her Master’s in Global Sustainability program with a concentration in Climate Change at the University of South Florida. She enjoys painting, reading and all forms of outdoor recreation.

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