Unlike almost any other holiday, Earth Day is a global event. It’s celebrated by more than 1 billion people in 192 countries on April 22, and why not? No matter our beliefs, gender, race, or pronunciation of “tomato,” we all live on the same planet, share the same oceans, and breathe the same air. Celebrating our Earth is something any human can get behind because we all have a stake in making sure it’s as beautiful and livable for the next generation as it is for us today.
This Earth Day, TSheets joined the rest of Intuit by creating our very own green team. Our first task? Figuring out how to celebrate Earth Day with a team of 400 employees.
As our Earth Day plans take shape, we thought we’d share some of our ideas. Hopefully, they’ll give you a good jumping-off point for planning your own Earth Day initiatives and beyond.
1. Give out eco-friendly swag
Honestly, TSheets is king of swag. I have more T-shirts, stickers, and reusable cups than I know what to do with. Last year, the company handed out cute little succulents and reusable straws. This year, we asked ourselves what kind of swag we should hand out, if any. After all, isn’t one point of Earth Day to re-evaluate your waste?
Rather than giving every employee a swag item, we opted to bring in a few different options with a limited number of each. On Earth Day, employees will have the chance to pick out their own special Earth-friendly swag item. That way, no one’s throwing out any unsolicited gifts they know they’ll never use.
2. Play host to the experts
Speaking of waste, Boise recently got its first zero-waste store and cafe. Roots, which will be opening its doors this year, offers shoppers more than your average organic market. Customers are invited to purchase everything from fruits and veggies to household cleaners and personal care items in bulk and to bring their own containers to put it all in. Best of all, Roots is entirely plastic-packaging free.
Given that no one on our team knows as much about reducing waste as these guys, we invited Roots owner, Lea Rainey, to speak to our team about how they too can reduce and reuse.
Even if you don’t have a resource like Roots in your neck of the woods, chances are good you have access to some nearby organization that’s focused on clean living or helping the planet. Maybe it’s a greenhouse owner who can talk about growing produce without pesticides or a local nonprofit whose goal is to help keep rivers and streams clean. It’s ok not to be the expert, but Earth Day is a great opportunity to bring in those who can share their knowledge.
3. Offer hands-on activities
These will make up the bulk of our Earth Day—nay, Earth Week—plans. Employees will have the chance to learn useful skills like composting and turning old T-shirts into reusable bags. They’ll also be encouraged to bike or carpool to work at least one day out of the week, which isn’t so much an “activity” as it is a chance to try out something that could become a new habit.
Hands-on activities bring theory to life. Suddenly, subjects people find boring become interesting. There are so many great Earth Day-inspired activities. Inhabitat has a whole list, with recommendations like “do a home energy audit” and “go vegan or vegetarian for a day.”
Even if your office activity looks more like going for a walk to enjoy nature’s wonders and less like taking a firm stance on recycling, hosting an event that puts our Earth front and center is a great place to start. And who knows? You might be able to tackle something a lot bigger next year.
4. Host an Earth Day book club
So many wonderful books follow the Earth Day theme. Some are tips for everyday people looking to make a smaller carbon footprint. Others seek to educate or persuade, sharing facts and statistics about the state of the planet. Make this year’s Earth Day Earth Month, and commit to reading one or more books over the next four weeks. Or ask 10 people to each pick a book and then share the most significant parts with the group.
Here are 10 great reads you should consider:
- “Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage” by Heather Rogers
- “The Backyard Beekeeper, 4th Edition: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden” by Kim Flottum
- “The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World” by Jeff Goodell
- “101 Ways to Go Zero Waste” by Kathryn Kellogg
- “Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash” by Edward Humes
- “Let It Rot!: The Gardener’s Guide to Composting” by Stu Campbell
- “Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade” by Adam Minter
- “Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste” by Bea Johnson
- “Junk Raft: An Ocean Voyage and a Rising Tide of Activism to Fight Plastic Pollution” by Marcus Eriksen
- “Field Notes From a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change” by Elizabeth Kolbert
5. Switch to compostable catering
If your company culture is anything like ours, you know that if it’s a party, there has to be food. We are all about free lunch and snacks around here. But what do you do if the caterer who brings in the food packages it all in non-recyclable, non-compostable, non-reusable containers? Doesn’t sound much like Earth Day to me.
As you make plans for your office’s Earth Day celebrations, try to work with vendors who can help you in your theme. Often, if it’s a supplier you work with frequently, they’ll be more than happy to supply their usual fare in more Earth-friendly packaging.
Check with your local recycling plant about what items are and are not recyclable, particularly those clear, plastic clamshells we all love. Then check with your caterers of choice to see if they have alternative means to feed your staff. When in doubt, ask if they have any bulk serving options, and purchase your own stack of cardboard, compostable plates if no one’s willing to do the dishes. Finally, use this opportunity to think about future catering all year long.
Earth Day is a great time to re-evaluate the little choices we make every day and imagine a cleaner, more sustainable way of life. We all get to share this big, beautiful planet, but like a campsite, it’s our job to leave it a little better than we found it. What’s your office doing to celebrate this Earth Day? Tell us about it on social media, using the hashtags #TSheetsbyQuickBooks and #PoweringProsperity.