On Tuesday, November 12, 2019, more than 20 employees participated in NAES Environmental Services (ES)’s NCO Green Team Kickoff Meeting. The energy is very positive, and participants were excited to discuss initiatives for improving environmental awareness and sustainable activities.
In typical NAES fashion, the meeting began with a NAES Safety Moment which discussed Hiking Safety. During the safety moment, we discussed the importance of being prepared for a hike, know your physical ability, plan the hike, be well hydrated, tell a family member or other where you are going and what time to expect you back. Recommend hiking with at least one other person, staying on the path and be aware of your surroundings. For additional information see: https://www.realsimple.com/work-life/life-strategies/hiking-tips
What is a Green Team, what is sustainability, and how do they contribute to business?
Green Teams are self-organized, grassroots and cross-functional groups of employees who voluntarily come together to educate, inspire, and empower employees around sustainability. The teams identify and implement specific solutions to help their organization operate in a more environmentally sustainable fashion.
Sustainability has to do with preserving or maintaining resources. We often associate sustainability with recycling, using renewable energy source such as solar or power, and preserving natural spaces like rain-forests and coral reefs. In a much wider view, sustainability is the capacity to endure or continue. If a product or activity is sustainable, it can be reused, recycled or repeated in some way because it has not exhausted all the resources or energy required to create it. Sustainability is ability of something to sustain itself.
Focus on operations is evolving and some green teams are beginning to focus their efforts on integrating sustainability into employees’ personal lives, while others are aligning their efforts to support broader corporate sustainability objectives.
Sustainability is comprised of three major components, the environment, community/social and economic/business considerations. The environment component focuses on protecting the environment, such as climate protection, protection of resources and biodiversity, organic, use natural resource more sparingly. The economy component such as business and industry, has to do with purchasing products with small carbon footprint, producing sustainable goods. The third component is the social element, goals include improving education and training opportunity, equal rights, and increase prosperity for the whole of humanity.
What does sustainability and being green mean to you?
Participants were happy to share their thoughts on being Green and Sustainability.
- Being Green is a learned attitude, in the 1970’s people threw trash outside their car windows.
- Simple solutions – make easy changes
- Community effort
- Fish Management
- Plant Trees
- Community Gardens
- Using assets wisely – turn the lights off when not in use
Activities and Opportunities for sustainability at Work
Many green teams focus on ways to improve internal operations, addressing such issues as energy and water use, recycling in the office, composting food waste, reducing the use of disposable take-out containers and eliminating plastic water bottles. In an office environment, we can change our habits and make small initial changes.
Simple waste analysis can be conducted to determine what is recycling, what waste is being thrown in dumpster verses what additional items can be recycled. Once these waste streams are looked at, individuals can determine what waste streams could be reduced, what could the office do without, what substitutions can be made.
Our office has reusable coffee mugs that can be used by any employee or visitor. We will look at reducing or possibly eliminating the use of plastic cups and cutlery.
There are also lots of opportunities to promote sustainability in NAES facilities. Small changes recycling and minimizing waste, making informed choices for purchases, carpool, go plastic free, pay attention to labels, use energy efficient appliances, don’t print – email, and reduce energy usage.
How will we spread the word? How can we improve our environmental footprint? How can we improve sustainability in our environment?
Use social media – LinkedIn, Instagram – Use #naesenviro, #naescorporation
- Coordinate environmental events
- Promote community gardens
- Celebrate Earth Day with the local community
- Engage employees’ children
- Reach out to schools promote environmental education
- Plant trees
- Build bird houses
- Beach and stream cleanup
- Promote a clean wilderness by picking up little while you are out “Doing a Teddy”
- Cleanup day, ask others in the building to participate.
- Ask what other sites have scheduled, see if we can tag along.