By:  Kim Anderson

April is Earth Month, a reminder to inspire change and adopt eco-friendly lifestyles. World Earth Day is celebrated on April 22 every year in the U.S. and is a perfect occasion for employers to engage their workforce in environmental awareness and sustainability initiatives.

The first World Earth Day was on April 22, 1970, and was developed by Senator Gaylord Nelson and Denis Hayes. They were inspired by the growing environmental movement in the United States in the 1960s and meant to educate people about pressing environmental issues. By 1990, Earth Day went global, and 200 million people in 141 countries celebrated it by addressing various environmental issues. Today, Earth Day is one of the world’s largest non-secular observances, with over 1 billion people participating yearly.

The theme for Earth Day 2024 is Planet vs. Plastics, which advocates for awareness of the health risks associated with plastic use. The theme is fundamental as it unites different institutes and communities in the fight against plastics for the sake of human and planetary health. The goal is a 60% reduction in plastic production by 2040!

Since Earth Day is a time to celebrate the planet, it is important to reflect on our actions that affect the environment. Here are some creative ideas and activities for organizations can engage in that celebrate Earth Day at work by promoting a greener workplace, feeling closer to nature, and aligning with the spirit of the planet:

  1. Reduce Plastic Use—Switch to earth-friendly materials and transform workspaces and living spaces into more sustainable havens. Start by throwing away all single-use plastic bottles, utensils, and straws and replace them with reusable water bottles and metal straws.
  2. Set Up Recycling Stations in the Workplace—Place visible recycling bins throughout the office and encourage employees to recycle regularly. Educate employees about the importance of recycling and promote paperless options and sustainable practices. Provide employees with tips on reducing energy use, food waste, and travel.
  3. Go for a Company Walk—Arrange daily outdoor walks for staff as a team-building event to connect with nature and each other! Spending just 10 minutes outside can reduce stress and improve morale.
  4. Outdoor Clean-Up—Organize a team to clean up litter around the office, at a park, or in other community areas in need. Depending on the site the team elects to clean up, the team can spend 10-15 minutes daily, once a week, monthly, or quarterly, picking up trash and making areas more beautiful. Working together fosters social engagement and contributes to a cleaner environment!
  5. Plan an Event for Employees and Their Kids to Plant a Tree or Start a Company Garden—
  • Plant a tree or contribute to an organization that plants trees to help combat climate change and improve the environment (e.g., National Forest Foundation, Arbor Day Foundation, One Tree Planted, etc.).
  • Plant flowers, herbs, or vegetables in planter boxes or designated areas at the work site or a nearby neighborhood garden, or encourage employees to plant their flowers, fruits, vegetables, and herbs at home. Gardens reduce carbon footprints and provide an opportunity to connect with nature!
  1. Employers Must Lead by Example—
  • Support Green Initiatives. Organizations that focus on green initiatives and sustainable practices drive social and economic change and are often more profitable in the long term.
  • Implement eco-friendly policies and practices and encourage employees to adopt sustainable habits.
  • Sustainable business practices attract and retain employees, reduce costs, and promote a healthier and more productive workforce.

Remember, Earth Day is not just a one-day or one-month event—it is an opportunity to foster a culture of sustainability and well-being in your workplace and on Planet Earth!

“Our goal is not just an environment of clean air, water, and scenic beauty. The objective is an environment of decency, quality, and mutual respect for all other human beings and all living creatures.”

-Gaylord Nelson