Sustainability 101

Earth Day and Beyond

Updated April 2018

“The wealth of the nation is its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats and biodiversity… that’s all there is. That’s the whole economy. That’s where all the economic activity and jobs come from. These biological systems are the sustaining wealth of the world”

— Gaylord Nelson, Founder, Earth Day

Earth Day 2018
VNO Compost Initiative
Earth Day 2016  with Vornado on top of the world

What you do on Earth Day can set the tone for your business or organization for the entire year. It is crucial to keep the momentum going. And that means thinking beyond Earth Day.  

One key reason to make Earth Day every day?

Following the release of recommendations from the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures last year, investors are starting to demand information about how businesses are managing their climate risks. The future and growth of your company may depend on how you report and respond to these challenges. Sustainability reporting in all its forms will become more important, and so will everyday sustainability and waste management programs.

Here’s how to make a lasting impact beyond Earth Day:

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Possibly our youngest Earth Day participant ever!

1). Ask questions. Be curious, like this little girl in the photo. Don’t let uncertainty hold you back. Knowledge is power.  If you have a question about sustainability, your company’s waste management programs or policies, ask your sustainability officer, facility manager, or ask Great Forest. Reducing your environmental impact carries many benefits, including reduced operational costs. If you are not reaping those benefits, be prepared to answer why.

2) Expand your sustainability mindset beyond Earth Day. Don’t let everything go back to “normal” on April 23. Make sustainability a conscious part of your company’s operations. Create a sustainability policy (or request one) and share this with employees and colleagues. Start with small, achievable actions (think low-hanging fruit) and expand from there. Even if you just do just one thing, for example, switching from disposal cups to reusable mugs. You will be surprised what an impact you can make day by day.

3) Set a good example from the top down. Sustainability programs succeed when there is buy-in, and that begins from the top down. Employees will take cues from how seriously sustainability is viewed and treated by management. Designate green team leaders who can help motivate and answer questions.

4) Celebrate shared accomplishments. Sustainability is a group effort. Share the results of your sustainability programs to show everyone how much you have all accomplished together, and to remind them that their efforts have helped to make all the difference.  But be honest. If your sustainability efforts are falling short, re-examine your programs to pinpoint the problem and communicate the solution. Conducting a waste audit is a great way to see if your programs are working, what you are throwing away and more.

It is time to make every day Earth Day.

“Everything is connected. Connectivity is going to be the key to addressing these issues, like contaminants and climate change. They’re not just about contaminants on your plate. They’re not just about the ice depleting. They’re about the issue of humanity. What we do every day — whether you live in Mexico, the United States, Russia, China … can have a very negative impact on an entire way of life for an entire people far away from that source.”

— Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Inuit activist

 

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