Celebrate Earth Day by Boosting Sustainability

Posted on 4/22/2014 by Roseanne Bottone

On April 22, one billion people in 190 countries will celebrate Earth Day by participating in activities promoting “Green Cities.” Organizers say: “With smart investments in sustainable technology, forward-thinking public policy, and an educated and active public, we can transform our cities and forge a sustainable future.”
Even small actions like changing a light bulb can have a huge positive impact. Energy Star-rated LED lamps use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs; if all bulbs were switched to LED lighting in the next 20 years, the US would save $250 billion in energy costs, reduce electricity use for lighting by 50%, and cut carbon emissions by 1,800 metric tons. 
What steps can your company take to become a more environmentally friendly business entity and help your city go green? Here are a few ideas.
Reign In Your Energy and Water Use
Simple, low-tech solutions can have a cumulative effect. Post signs at exits to remind employees to turn off the lights as they exit. Make a policy to set thermostats to efficient heating and cooling temperatures or use automatic monitoring systems. Install dual or low-water flush toilets.
If you want to develop a more comprehensive energy program, EPA’s Energy Star Program offers strategies and tools to help you. Presently, 35% of Fortune 500® companies participate in this initiative, as well as half of the largest US healthcare organizations, major league sports teams, colleges and universities, and entire cities. 
Conduct “Green” Meetings, Conventions, and Other Gatherings
Start small by generating less solid waste. Use real dishes, flatware, and cups instead of paper and plastic. Keep printing to a minimum by e-mailing meeting agendas ahead of time and providing supporting documents for your presentations online.
Recycle Sign
If you want to develop a more extensive standard operating procedure for environmentally friendly events, the EPA has guidance to help
Other sources of expertise are available on EPA’s website, including the following: 
  • Green Meetings Council
  • Meeting Professionals International (MPI)
  • International Association of Conventions and Visitors Bureaus
  • US GSA Federal Travel Regulation – Guide to Sustainable Conferences
Reduce Your Packaging Footprint
Rethink how you package your product for retail sale and how you ship product, hazmat, and waste off site. The EPA suggests eliminating toxic constituents, using less material, using more post-consumer recycled content, making packaging reusable, or making it easier for end users to recycle it. When you ship hazardous waste or hazardous materials off site, can you use UN-authorized recycled/reconditioned packaging? Check the 49 CFR regulations and talk to your vendor about this option.
The EPA maintains a Sustainable Business Clearinghouse. This site provides information about government and non-government sources of information and help, compliance assistance, and guidance for those seeking sustainable business solutions. Users can search by geography, specific sustainability issues, and industry sector to find the information needed.
Communicate and Educate
You already review OSHA safety procedures at meetings, so why not include environmental tips as part of your meeting introductions too? Have a communication strategy to convey your goals and achievements to your employees and the community. The EPA has a kit to help you achieve this. 
Motivate your employees by entering the Energy Star National Building Competition and compete against other buildings across the country. Being a good environmental steward doesn’t have to be drudgery!
While today’s Earth Day celebrations remind us of the need to protect our great planet, the remaining 364 days in the year provide endless opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the quality of our air, land, and water. By combining your commitment to regulatory compliance with innovative thinking about sustainability issues, your company can have an impact that benefits the world, local community, and its own well-being.
Happy Earth Day! Lion Technology presents training on US and international hazmat shipping; EPA hazardous waste management; air, water, and chemical regulations; and workplace health and safety rules. Lion Technology’s 2014 Course Catalog includes a complete list of Lion’s nationwide public workshops, 24/7 online courses, and live webinars. 

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