Earth Day 2016 - we see you!
With April 22 fast approaching, organizations from Seattle to Atlanta are gearing up for Earth Day events large and small. Some take the entire month to celebrate Earth Day, while others plan a weekend of events. But one thing is for sure: It’s hard not to find an Earth Day event in your communities these days.
Sports teams like the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx dub April “Think Green” month, and spend the entire month focusing on sustainability education for their fans, employees, and stakeholders. And, if you haven’t heard, New York City is going car-free on Earth Day by shutting down several streets across the city to promote biking, walking, and public transit commutes.
The St. Louis Earth Day Festival is gearing up to be a massive event, complete with a fundraiser, a recycling event, and more. And, California is hosting an Earth Day Wine & Food event that looks as delicious as it is sustainable.
But, for those of us who don’t run entire cities or have large-scale budgets, how do we celebrate Earth Day in a meaningful way?
Here are five things your organization can do on a short budget - and timeline - to celebrate Earth day this year:
This year, Modo Yoga is hosting a 30-day challenge to support their students’ practice and four different organizations fighting climate change. To participate, students purchase a $20 bingo card for prizes, and the studios are hosting fundraising and karma yoga classes to raise additional funds. This type of event takes planning and dedication to complete, but not a massive budget.
You don’t need a yoga studio or the full month to complete a challenge. If you’re at an office, round up your employees for a bracket-style game that encourages them to recycle, use less paper, or commit to less power usage. Consider partnering with a local organization to raise funds during the challenge, or go simple and pick up a gift card or giveaway for the winner.
A quick Google search will tell you what kind of organizations exist in your area for electronics recycling, clothes/fabric recycling, and more. An easy way to get your organization involved this Earth Day is by seeking out one of these organizations and asking them to partner with you to create a recycling drop-off at your office, studio, or somewhere in your community.
In Lawrenceville, Georgia, the Global Paint for Charity and Solid Waste and Recovered Materials Division are teaming up to host a recycling event for the community, where they can drop off everything from paint materials to old tires and sneakers. They asked volunteers to help them run the event, and found a space in the community big enough to handle the range of recycling options they wanted to offer.
If you have a green space or large parking lot at your office, considering giving one of your local recycling centers a call to see if they’d help you with the transport and recycling of materials. Then, take to office email, local newspapers, and social media to promote the drop-off.
This year, Caesars Windsor is volunteering with the Clean the World foundation to create hygiene kits from hotel soaps and shampoos. The foundation aligns well with Caesars’ industry and sustainability values and so far, Clean the World has diverted over 8,500 tons of soaps, shampoos, and other products!
This year, find an organization that aligns with your values or industry, and ask how you can help. It might be as simple as rounding up a few teams of employees or volunteers to make kits, package food, or do some community outreach.
Similar to volunteering, you can round up the troops and work with your local park or waterfront to do a team clean-up. Here in Minnesota, Friends of the Mississippi River hosts an annual Earth Day cleanup where folks can show up the day of the event to do their part. If you can work it out to have a group of employees away from the office for a few hours, cleanups make for great team bonding events on a shoestring budget.
All it takes is a little planning and some hype to get volunteers committed, block calendars, and arrange for transportation. And, if you’re in the Midwest, cleanups are a great excuse to get outside after months of hibernation!
If an event is out of the question this year, consider adding some visual reminders at your office or studio to show your support for Earth Day. Caesars Windsor is topping off their campaign for Earth Day by changing all of their exterior lighting to a shade of green for the month of April.
Now, not all of us have budgets to change the lighting throughout our workspaces, but what if you changed one or two lights in a high-traffic area? Or created a reminder at your printers encouraging employees to cut back on printing for the month of April? Or maybe, you organize your staff to wear green on Earth Day, or bring in a green plant to put on their desk. The possibilities are endless!
Raising awareness for Earth Day doesn’t require heavy planning or a large budget, but it does require a little hard work, dedication, and excitement around the event.