April 22 is Earth Day, and despite the fact that the eco-conscious holiday has been around for 45 years now, many people still don’t know much about it. Earth Day was created by Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson after he learned about the devastating effects of a massive 1969 oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. The first Earth Day celebration was held on April 22, 1970and the holiday has been celebrated on the same day ever since.
The initial impact of Earth Day was widespread and pervasive. With the momentum created by Sen. Nelson and his supporters, the U.S. Congress was able to authorize the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency in December 1970. Several pieces of legislation regarding conservation and the environment were also passed in the wake of the first Earth Day, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.
While the initial reaction to Earth Day was to improve environmental standards in the U.S. and make an effort to reverse the damage already done to the planet, enthusiasm for the holiday has dramatically decreased in recent years. Unfortunately, support for Earth Day is dwindling just as the message behind the holiday is most relevant. According to the United Nations, climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing the world today. But a recent Pew Research Center survey found that 52 percent of respondents did not view global warming as a major threat.
Everyone will have to do their part if the global community is ever going to get the climate crisis under control, and this includes businesses. Below are five ways enterprises can make a difference on Earth Day, and any other day of the year.
1) Know what you waste
The most important step any company can take when trying to be more eco-friendly is to first understand how wasteful they are being. Calculating paper waste, energy consumption and the amount of recycling that is done in the office helps create a baseline for improvements and pinpoint where bad habits lie. The EPA’s Energy Star program offers tools to help gauge energy and water use and can recommend more efficient appliances to replace older, more wasteful hardware.
2) Change the paper you use
While many organizations have started to rely more heavily on the cloud, it is safe to say that almost all offices still use paper to some extent. For the functions that absolutely require paper, enterprises can switch to post consumer waste options, or paper made entirely of recycled products. In particular, PWC paper takes less energy to make and creates less waste during the papermaking process.
3) Put computers to sleep
Perhaps the easiest step companies can take to reduce their carbon footprint is having employees put their computers to sleep when they leave for the night. According to the EPA, simply turning computers off before going home for the day can save businesses between $10 and $50 per machine each year.
Even though putting a computer to sleep is a simple task, it can be hard to get every employee to comply. To ensure no energy is being wasted, enterprises can implement power management solution like Faronics’ Power Save. The program runs in the background of a PC and is able to determine when the machine has been inactive for a certain amount of time and will power down automatically.
4) Replace the lights
This tip is often overlooked by businesses because the higher upfront cost is off-putting. While it’s true that compact-fluorescent and LED lights come with a higher price tag, they also last longer than traditional incandescent bulbs and use less energy, saving money in the long run.
5) Encourage employees to utilize green transportation
Cutting down on carbon emissions from cars is one of the most beneficial ways to combat climate change. Providing employees with incentives to utilize greener methods of transportation, like walking or biking, during their commute can dramatically reduce the impact of a business has on the environment. Setting up office carpool schedules or providing information about public transportation are also helpful when encouraging eco-friendly commuting.