Sustainability 101

How Do Companies Celebrate Earth Day? A Guide to Earth Day Ideas From World Records to Haiku Competitions

First published 2013

In 2012, three companies broke a world record to mark Earth Day. Another organized a haiku competition, while the majority staged events large and small, from building attention-getting recycling sculptures to holding brown bag Lunch and Learn talks. Some took part in worldwide movements, while others involved their companies in local volunteer projects.

What will you be doing on Earth Day? To give you some ideas, we took a look back at what some companies did in 200920102011 and 2012, and found that most Earth Day activities fell into four categories:

1) On-site events:

  • Attention-getting displays:
    • In 2008 Yahoo! created hexagon dome “plants” (see photo above) out of used paper cups and placed the attention-getting sculptures on the lawn of their main campus to bring attention to their “Chuck the Cup” day.
    • To remind tenants to recycle, Great Forest has created towers made out of hundreds of discarded cardboard cafeteria trays and plastic bottles. These “recycled” displays never fail to create buzz for Earth Day.
  • Small showcases:
    • Many companies organize brown bag Lunch and Learn talks or Earth Day fairs to show their employees how to green their lives at work and at home. We’ve set up informational booths with fun and educational games, conducted green surveys, and even arranged to bring in electric cars and charging stations for show-and-tell.
  • Recycling Drives:
    • Earth Day recycling drives, especially e-waste events, are very popular.
    • In many offices, old computers and other electronics are often just stored away, taking up valuable space.  This is a good opportunity to clear backlogs of e-waste and to raise awareness at the same time. RBC’s e-waste recycling drive last year collected in over 15 tonnes of old electronics.

2) Competitions, Awards and Recognitions:

  • Earth Day is a great time to thank supporters of your company’s green efforts. One company presented an iPad to its greenest employee.
  • Friendly inter-office competitions are great motivators. Great Forest has organized a number of company-wide recycling competitions with great success pitting one floor or department against another.
  • In 2012, to encourage employees to visit their internal sustainability website, Marsh & McLennan organized a haiku contest looking for budding poets.
  • And in Texas, where they think big, three companies broke the world record for collecting and shredding 11,920 pounds of paper in a 24-hour period.

3) Community Service and Action:

  • Many companies encourage their staff to participate in worldwide movements like Billion Acts of Green, or Earth Hour. Some match an employee’s green pledge with a green act such as planting a tree.
  • Many companies organize local volunteer opportunities for their employees to mark Earth Day.  These include park cleanups, recycling drives and composting projects.
  • Companies have also expanded their reach to include families. One company invited children of staff to submit artwork about Earth Day for display in their offices.

For many corporations all over the world, Earth Day activities represent the culmination of their year-long green efforts. For others, it might be the ONE day that they focus on sustainability. No matter where you are on the green spectrum, you should take advantage of the attention Earth Day generates because it sets the tone for the rest of the year.

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