World Environment Day - What It Means for Your Business
Environmental activism is an increasingly important part of corporate social responsibility for many businesses. As World Environment Day approaches, it is an ideal time to take a look at this year’s theme.
Environmental activism is an increasingly important part of corporate social responsibility for many businesses. As World Environment Day approaches, it is an ideal time to take a look at this year’s theme and how it relates to running a meaningful, successful organization.
What Is World Environment Day?
World Environment Day is an annual event organized and promoted by the United Nations with the goal of raising global awareness about environmental issues. It is formally celebrated on June 5, though activities and campaigns run year-round.
Each year features a new theme and host country. Canada is the host for 2017, and the theme chosen by the country’s organizers is “Connecting People to Nature.”
What Does It Mean to Connect to Nature?
Nature is all around us, yet the majority of people spend most of their time indoors. This disconnect has negative consequences. Research supports the idea that exposure to green spaces makes people less anxious, less stressed and happier overall. It is particularly important for children — among young people, there is a demonstrable correlation between time spent in nature and better overall health outcomes.
Connecting to nature has broader impacts, too. While we can appreciate the outdoors in an abstract way, it’s only by spending time in the world that we realize the extent of its value. Connecting with nature leads to more informed citizens and greater political willpower to make long-term decisions that safeguard the health of the planet. While individual citizens can do a great deal for the promotion of environmental value, it is often corporate efforts that make the greater impact.
What Corporations Can Do
It’s easy to malign big business as antithetical to larger environmental concerns. However, this view neglects the power of business to make positive change. By actively engaging with events like World Environment Day, companies can turn the workplace into a space for positive change. Here are a few things you can do to help your employees connect to nature:
Lead by example: Engaging employees in environmental projects and goals is one of the best ways to foster a deeper connection with nature. Implement recycling and energy conservation programs, offset your reliance on the grid with a solar installation, or streamline your supply chain. Big or small, the steps you take to run a greener operation will inspire your employees to do more for the environment outside of work. In addition, these efforts can make your business model more effective and reduce your overall waste.
Make nature accessible: Being stuck in an office for 40 hours a week is the biggest impediment to connecting with nature. Consider offering flexi time or telecommuting arrangements so staff can take better advantage of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors when they arise.
Make your office greener - literally: If employees are required on-site, consider making that site a more attractive place to work. Even adding a few plants can positively impact the well-being of your staff, creating a connection with nature that they’ll benefit from an on ongoing basis.
Consider encouraging your employees through incentive programs. Reward staff who actively participate in recycling or conservation programs, and highlight their successes in your company newsletter. One of the easiest incentives you can provide is for green commuting. Offer small rewards like quarterly gift cards to employees who choose to walk, carpool, or bicycle to work. You can also consider making discounted passes for nearby parks a part of your standard benefits package.
How Companies Can Benefit
Helping people connect with nature can have tangible benefits for any business. Healthier, happier staff will be more productive and more willing to go the extra mile for your company. When everyone comes together to reduce the impact a workplace has on the environment, you'll enjoy lower utility bills and a leaner, more efficient operation. Finally, when you become a sustainability leader and implement progressive environmental policies, customers take notice.
World Environment Day is a globally recognized event and a great time to rethink the relationship between your organization and the natural world. International standards such as ISO 14001 and ISO 50001 provide a useful framework for adopting company-wide environmental management systems that will help you achieve your goals. For more information, contact NQA today!