Today is Earth Day and Earth Day’s 50 Year Celebration!

Now is a great time to think about ways of being when we return to whatever the new normal will be. Consider the possibilities for a ‘new’ normal instead of slipping back into the pre-COVID lifestyle. What do you envision for yourself, your family, your community, and your organization post-COVID?

Earth Day is a wonderful reminder to consider a few simple options that have a significant environmental and health impact. The plan can be implemented when appropriate and the time is right. Involve your Wellness and Safety Committees in considering the possibilities, for example,

Promote Car Pooling: Car Pooling comes first to mind despite the fact that it wasn’t always successful pre-COVID.  Post-COVID will be different and perhaps considering incentives will make it even more attractive.  Less traffic on the road right now has dramatically decreased pollution. Wouldn’t be wonderful to sustain this!

Pause to consider how to encourage less traffic and maintain cleaner air. Car pooling may now even be a wonderful opportunity to socially connect with co-workers that we desperately are missing. So consider,

  • Are there other companies within your geographic location that you can plan and share ideas?
  • Are there convenient areas for employees to meet up to share rides?
  • Are there public transportation options to consider?
  • What new incentives and information would help?
  • Even consider the options for more work at home days.  We know it works and we know productivity doesn’t decrease.  And now your company probably has proof of both.  Even 1 day a week working from home for certain staff can help the environment, as well as the employees and the organization.

Eliminate Bottled Water:  The facts are that bottled water is often not better or healthier than drinking water; is not regulated; and the bottles contain chemicals like BPA, and other harmful plastics and chemicals. Plus, 38 billion bottles end up in landfills in the USA alone; 1.1 million marine life die from the plastics that wash into our oceans; bottling and transporting water uses an enormous amount of resources including millions of barrels of oil a year. So consider,

  • Can you install filtered water systems in the breakroom areas?
  • Can you provide multi-use water bottles made from sustainable materials or even stainless steel or protected glass to all employees?
  • Can you install filtered stations in areas to refill multi-use water bottles?
  • What is needed to support such behavior changes?

Use Compostable, Reusable, or Recyclable Cafeteria/Breakroom Supplies: All keep tons and tons of materials out of landfills. Compostis useful for soil enrichment and remediation, as well as erosion control. Consider:

  • What can you swap for sustainable, reusable, or compostable items – eating ware, napkins, cups, coffee cups, etc.?
  • Can you eliminate plastic straws and other plastic items?
  • What other materials can be swapped for more sustainable options?
  • Are dishwashers an option in small breakrooms?

Compost: There are many methods of composting within aerobic, anaerobic, and vermicomposting types. Most food wastes and compostable supplies can be kept out of landfills plus result in nutrient rich soil. So consider,

  • Is composting an option at your facility? 
  • Is there space for bins?
  • Is there outdoor space to compost?
  • If composting on your grounds isn’t an option, is there a contract option with a compost pick-up service?

Some of the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lifestyle changes have resulted in many positive outcomes for work-life integration and the environment. Perhaps learning from and maintaining the positive aspects are the most beneficial guides for moving forward into post-COVID living.

What other positives have you experienced and would like to sustain post-COVID? 

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