Each year on April 22nd, more than 1 billion people get involved with Earth Day. The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 by 22 million Americans.
Unfortunately, we don’t do a great job overall with waste in the US. Despite having just 5% of the world’s population, we produce around 25% of the world’s waste. Paper, cardboard, food scraps, and plastics make up the brunt of the waste we produce. On top of that, the availability of landfills has fallen by some 80% or so.
So, it doesn’t take a thoughtful analysis to reveal that this is a looming problem. We produce a lot of waste, relative to our population. And we’re running out of places to put it.
What Harm Does This Waste Cause the Environment?
It depends on how the waste is disposed of. Incineration releases toxic gases into the atmosphere. That enhances the intensity of the greenhouse effect.
However, incineration can be easily improved. Scandinavian and European countries have invented efficient incineration methods that release next to no toxic gases, while also producing biomass energy. They can be so efficient they release less harmful gases than your home’s fireplace! But, that’s not prevalent in the US yet.
Landfills pollute groundwater, and by extension, the local water supply. They contaminate soil. And they produce methane. Now, methane is a huge concern because, when you compare the same-size unit of methane and carbon dioxide, methane produces 21 times more greenhouses gases. And that increases the effect of global warming.
What Can Your Company Do?
Your company can’t solve the problem. But, you can contribute to the solution in your own way. At a high level, look at what sustainable business practices you can implement.
Some small ideas:
- Using only green food service disposables
- Applying only environmentally friendly cleaning chemicals
- Installing waterless urinals
- Using only green air odor neutralizers
- Turning your computers off when done for the day
- Installing electric hand driers
- Using green pest control products
And some bigger ones that require more thought and planning:
- Green-friendly retail packaging
- Installing LED lighting
- Using motion sensors to automatically turn lights on and off
- Hiring a green cleaning service
- Rewarding employees for environmentally-friendly behavior
Getting Environmentally Friendly Takes Hard Work
Don’t be fooled. While it’s easy to talk about things you can do to help the environment, it’s hard to actually follow through and implement them.
After a while, you’ll struggle, wanting to slip back into your old habits. But if you keep trying, helping the environment becomes a habit just like anything other. And, that’s something you’ll feel great about.