Updated: May 10
This year is the closest we’ve been to ‘normal’ since the pandemic as many Canadian companies and small businesses are gradually welcoming their employees back to work. For those hired within the last two years, it could mean meeting colleagues in person for the first time. This gives companies a great opportunity to organize team-building activities to not only recreate the team synergy but also to introduce and maintain corporate responsibility.
What is Earth Month?
Every year on April 22nd, people across the globe celebrate Earth Day; the entire month of April is subsequently recognized as Earth Month. The idea for the first Earth Day began over 50 years ago when Senator Gaylord Nelson, the junior senator from Wisconsin, was inspired by the energy and passion of the student anti-war movement. Having long been concerned about the deteriorating environment of the U.S., Senator Nelson decided to infuse that same enthusiasm into students to raise awareness of air and water pollution in school lectures. To encourage participation on campuses, April 22nd was chosen - a weekday between Spring Break and Final Exams.
Two decades later, the idea of Earth Day went global, inspiring people around the world to demonstrate against the industrial developments having caused serious health and environmental impacts on the communities around them. Today, Earth Day signifies a time to recognize, unite, and take again to fight against climate change.
Team-Up for Sustainability
Environmentally conscious corporations and businesses dedicate this time to thinking of creative ways to celebrate and build an equally responsible workforce. A survey report by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) in 2010, shows that companies with a strong sustainability program have:
55% better morale
43% more efficient businesses processes
43% stronger public image
38% better employee loyalty
With so many benefits to having an engaged and sustainable workplace, Earth Month presents many opportunities to not only re-introduce in-person events with the team but to bring more purpose to relationship-building activities.
Common exercises involve games, ice-breakers, or even friendly office competitions. They bring members of an organization closer together but also promote sustainability within the company and set a great example for employees to carry into their everyday lives.
If you are a Canadian business looking for ideas to celebrate Earth Month this year, read on to discover local initiatives to organize and encourage your employees to take part in.
1. Community Clean-Ups
Businesses are an integral part of the community, taking responsibility to care for it shows pride and leadership in where you work. This can be done in a nearby park, along local streets, or in public areas around the office. Teaming up with a local environmental group is also a good way to build relationships in the community. Want to make it a workplace competition? Divide employees into teams and see who can collect the most litter.
2. Take a Hike
Spending more time in nature has been linked to both cognitive benefits and improvements in mood, mental health and emotional well-being. Allowing some time out of a workday to re-energize the team in a free activity will pay itself back ten-fold.
If you're looking to engage your employees in an adventurous, fun, and eco-responsible way to enjoy the outdoors, there are plenty of Ontario spring trails ready to be conquered once the warmer weather makes its official return.
3. Run for a Cause - Earth Day Virtual Run 2022
Sponsor team members in running their choice of a 5K, 10K, or half marathon on April 22, 2022. Runners can choose to participate from anywhere and anytime, giving flexibility to those working unconventional work hours as well. For every registration with Raceroster they’ll plant a tree on your behalf through One Tree Planted!
4. Low Waste Lunch ‘n’ Learns
Swap out the plastic sandwich containers and have the team prepare a zero waste lunch (and learn). A quick trip to the grocery store while bringing reusable bags and containers, putting sandwiches together can be easy and affordable when doing it yourself rather than ordering in. Exchange individual portions of snacks to a bowl of fruit and bring in pitchers to make fun drinks in bulk rather than bottled options.
Then invite companies like HSR Zero Waste, who help organizations incorporate sustainability in the workplace to share their expertise in the zero waste movement. They provide a range of commercial services for facilities to meet their zero waste aspirations through:
Education & Training
Zero Waste Services
Resource Management Services
Going green doesn’t have to be intimidating with the right foundations. HSR offers knowledge, solutions and monitoring for facilities to reduce the amount of waste they generate, as opposed to simply diverting it away from landfills.
5. Encourage Sustainable Practices at Home
In addition to corporate workshops & training, launch a campaign at work to encourage employees to practice sustainability at home. Some ideas could be:
Switch to Energy-saving Light Bulbs
Eat More Food from Local Sources
Lower the Temperature of Your Water Heater
Fix faucet Leaks
Start a Compost Bin
Keep Reusable Shopping Bags in Your Car
Use Earth-friendly Cleaning Products
Turn It Off - Consider charging family members a quarter (or smartphone time!) each time they forget and see how much quicker they develop the habit.
Have a No TV Day
Plant a Vegetable Garden
Create a separate channel or online group where employees can post photos and share their efforts to propel these small lifestyle changes with each other.
6. Tree Planting
Nothing feels more gratifying than taking an active role in the reforestation of local green spaces. It’s a great way to offset a business’s paper consumption and an activity that gets the team out of the office and into the great outdoors.
If getting the team to take a day out of the office is not feasible, consider bringing plants in instead. Start a small team nursery or potted plants around the workplace to freshen up the office. They don’t have to be decorative plants either, a herb garden serves double its purpose yielding a rewarding treat.
7. Choose Local Gifts
There is always an occasion for gifting and Earth Month is a special one. There are many local Canadian businesses offering eco-friendly gifts perfect for employees. So why not surprise your work peers with some interesting eco-conscious goodies to get them excited for the season?
Good Earth Gifting specializes in curated gift boxes made from local Canadian brands. Not only are all products locally sourced, but they are also eco-friendly and sustainably packaged. Choose gift boxes for the wanderlust, food-enthusiast, or those that could use a little TLC.
For more eco-friendly gift ideas explore our gifting guides.
Sustainable Workplaces Yield Happier Employees
“Going green will boost employee morale,” according to Steve Strauss, a USA Today columnist and lawyer specializing in small business. “Having a green workplace is increasingly an important consideration for employees.” In fact, a whopping 75% of millennials would be willing to take a pay cut to work for a sustainable company. Considering millennials now make up 35% of the workforce, this is a significant factor when hiring and retaining employees.
While every organization is unique, one thing that stands true is that a team that works well together, thrives together. We’d be curious to learn how you celebrate Earth Month in your workplace. Leave us a comment below.