Ideal Outcomes

Earth Day Every Day: 10 Corporate Strategies for a Greener Tomorrow

by Jason Richmond, CEO and Chief Culture Officer at Ideal Outcomes, Inc.

Our planet is facing a grave threat—from us. Human activities are putting planet Earth under extreme stress with everyday activities contributing to climate change, deforestation, pollution, and overconsumption of natural resources. Business activities play a major part.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global temperatures are projected to rise 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by as early as 2030 if current trends continue. The result could be widespread environmental and economic impacts, including more frequent and severe natural disasters such as storms and wildfires, loss of coastal areas, and disruptions to food supply.

The devastating potential of climate change is projected by The World Economic Forum to be as many as 14.5 million deaths and as much as $12.5 trillion in economic losses by 2050. Many people already live under a cloud of pollution day in and day out. The World Health Organization states that 9 out of 10 people breathe air that exceeds WHO guideline limits containing high levels of pollutants, with low- and middle-income countries suffering from the highest exposures. This contributes to diseases such as stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory infections.

I mention these statistics from reputable global organizations to highlight the significance of Earth Day (April 22) an annual event that for more than 50 years has demonstrated support for environmental protection.

What can business leaders do to help focus on the event and showcase their own commitment to a healthier planet? Shouldn’t this be as much of a concern as making money? As John Elkington, author of Green Swans: The Coming Boom in Regenerative Capitalism, says, “The single-minded pursuit of profit, it turns out, is no way to think of or run a planet for long-term health.”

Here are 10 suggestions to help our planet.

Launch a Green Challenge

Encourage employees to participate in a week-long green challenge. Challenges could include minimizing single-use plastics, biking or walking to work, or adopting a plant-based diet for a week. Such initiatives not only raise awareness but also build team spirit.

Organize a Company-wide Cleanup

Whether it’s a local park, beach, or community space, organizing a cleanup day is a great way to give back to the community while helping the environment. Encourage participation by making the event fun and rewarding.

Implement a Recycling Program

If your business doesn’t already have a recycling program, Earth Day is the perfect time to start one. Set up recycling stations and educate employees on what can be recycled. Consider incentives for departments that recycle the most. Beyond paper and plastic, businesses can recycle electronics, batteries, and ink cartridges.

Promote and Support Green Commuting

Suggest employees commute in an environmentally friendly manner such as cycling, carpooling, or public transport. You could offer incentives like reimbursements for public transport passes or create a bike-to-work program. Alternatively, of course, you can support remote work which not only decreases carbon footprint but promotes work-life balance.

Go Paperless for a Day (or Longer)

Challenge your team to go paperless for Earth Day. This can be extended to a week or made into a permanent policy. It’s a simple step that can significantly reduce a company’s carbon footprint and encourage more digital innovation​.

Plant Trees or Create a Workplace Garden

Engage employees in planting trees around your business premises or starting a workplace garden. This not only beautifies the space but also contributes to local biodiversity and employee well-being.

Donate to Environmental Causes

As a business, make a contribution to environmental charities or local sustainability projects. You could also match donations made by employees to double the impact.

Sustainable Product Promotions

If your business sells products, consider launching a special Earth Day product or promotion that highlights sustainability. This could be a product made from recycled materials or one where a portion of the proceeds goes to environmental causes.

Reduce Energy Consumption

Switch to energy-efficient lighting, encourage turning off lights and electronics when not in use, and invest in programmable thermostats to reduce energy consumption.

Invest in Renewable Energy

Consider installing solar panels or purchasing renewable energy credits to offset your energy use. This reduces reliance on fossil fuels and can lower energy costs in the long term.

Facing the Future

It’s time to step up. Some companies are leading the way. In her book Green Giants: How Smart Companies Turn Sustainability into Billion-Dollar Businesses, E. Freya Williams features companies with at least one billion dollars in annual revenue that can be directly attributed to a product, service, or line of business with sustainability or social good at its core including Chipotle, Toyota, Unilever, Tesla, and General Electric.

Some experts, though, feel we’re falling behind. Carol Sanford, author of The Responsible Business: Reimagining Sustainability & Success, for instance, says, “I’m concerned because the responsibility-sustainability train is finally leaving the station, and it’s going in the wrong way.”

My question to you is: How many of my 10 suggested activities do you currently undertake? Probably not enough. So why not celebrate Earth Day by taking action. It’s a valuable opportunity for you to highlight your commitment to sustainability and inspire your employees and community to take action for the planet. By adopting one or more of these simple initiatives, businesses can make a meaningful impact on Earth Day 2024 and beyond.