Many of us spend a lot of our energy and focus on the workplace, whether we work for others or have our own business. As our daily lives become more intertwined with our purpose, it makes sense to see how your workplace can do its part for the environment. Today, our amazing guest writer Alex Barrera of btheimpact will teach us exactly how we can make the workplace much more eco-friendly, efficient, and fun. Her game plan? Building a Green Team!
A Green Team will lay the groundwork for sustainability initiatives. However big or small your workplace is, it is a great opportunity to unite a group of people to work towards building an eco-friendlier business.
So how do you create a Green Team, aka Sustainability Task Force or Committee, that will lead the change internally to becoming a more eco-friendly business?
What is a Green Team? How will it help to create an eco-friendly workplace?
Green Teams usually consist of employees who have volunteered to spearhead sustainability initiatives. They focus primarily on two areas; the operational side and internal culture side. The operational side works on identifying sustainability opportunities, processes, and internal policies. The internal culture side aims to educate and engage employees on the importance of sustainability and their individual impact.
Here are 6 steps to getting an Eco-Friendly Green Team started at your company
To create lasting change, engaging the decision-makers in the process will be key.
One way to do this is to put together a thorough presentation that explains the benefits of a sustainability program. It is also important to ask the question, “How will the Green Team help us get there?” This presentation should include metrics that let management know the impact companies have on the environment, examples of how companies are taking action, and how consumers and employees are demanding companies do something about climate change. It also helps to highlight the other benefits such as operational efficiency, collaboration between teams and markets, and increased employee engagement and happiness.
Engaging management will help you move along the process efficiently and get you closer to getting your Green Team started!
1. Building the right team
To be efficient, the Green Team should be diverse by being properly represented by the various departments, levels, and markets of the workplace. The team should also be small, which will lead to more effective discussions and action.
Once you have defined the various departments and areas you need to recruit from, who would be the best team members? Passionate and engaged employees. Normally the Green Teams are composed of volunteers. Few volunteers are ever getting paid extra to work on these initiatives. This is why having individuals who care deeply about the environment can assure a significant level of commitment. However, not all team members have to be experts on the topic, but they must be focused and motivated to create change internally and externally.
If you find yourself, with many volunteers, consider creating subcommittees. These can be led by Green Team members that could serve as liaisons.
2. Define priorities and long-term goals
Once you have a team in place, the next step is to conduct a thorough assessment of the company. What has been done so far and where are the biggest opportunities are for positive change?
With a proper audit of your business, you can then start thinking about what the most realistic next steps are. It’s important to keep it simple at first. The best approach is to start with those initiatives that are the easiest to tackle, otherwise known as the “low hanging fruit” initiatives. By starting this way, everyone can stay motivated and feel like they are headed in the right direction. Starting small helps build morale and momentum to reach those long-term goals that will make an impact.
3. Communicate and meet regularly
Keep the momentum going by having open channels of communication and meeting regularly.
It is important to also establish expectations with the help of set goals and agendas to track action items. Communication should also be directed to the entire company, not just those on the team. By creating a Green Team section on a newsletter, internal blog, company’s FB page and intranet you can let others know all the great things the team is doing and how they can get involved.
4. Stay motivated with creativity and passion
This process is meant to be engaging. By staying receptive, flexible, and fun you will have the most success at gaining the support you need. The Green Team should not be run as another department. This team is an opportunity for everyone to think outside the box and come up with some creative ideas; both big and small.
Here are some ideas for initiatives:
- Create an environmental awareness educational program for employees
- Implement recycling & energy efficiency programs
- Have lunch and learn sessions with experts or showcasing documentaries for discussion
- Organize volunteering activities
- Create a separate eco-brand version for your company to support these initiatives
- Develop sustainability policies that encompass supply chains
Nowadays, all of these can be developed for a virtual company setting as well!
5. Showcase the Green Team’s accomplishments
The way to keep everyone motivated is to talk about everything you are doing. Recognize the wins and the impact you can make. Always remembering there is no such thing as “small impact”. We do what we can. It’s about doing something. And recognize those who are going above and beyond.
And know that many of the sustainability initiatives in a company have started because one person had the passion and initiative to do the groundwork.
Are you that person? Are you up for the task?
Start your Green Team today and let's make the workplace an eco-friendly space to foster change, imagination, and growth.
Alex Barrera is a Corporate Social Responsibility professional with over 15+ years of experience. Alex has worked on strategy, research, corporate sustainability, diversity, and impact measurement of several initiatives in various companies, such as Univision, Warner Bros. International, Hallmark and Viacom Latin America. Alex is currently the Founder and Principal of (b.), a social impact consulting firm where she works with clients across a wide array of industries including media, education, technology, and NGO's.
She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Florida International University, as well as an Executive Certificate in Social Impact Strategy from University of Pennsylvania and Corporate Sustainability Certificate from New York University.
Find more of her work at: www.btheimpact.net/blog