23 Ideas for Your Green Team this Earth Month

A valued WeSpire customer made a special request recently.

In addition to her “day job” directing Sustainability at a Fortune 200 energy conglomerate, she organizes a volunteer group of “Green Ambassadors” from around the organization, many of whom have arrived via acquisitions of the past few years, and who do not know each other well.

It’s hard to think of something fresh for our meetings every month,” she said. “I want to keep them inspired with interesting things they can do that somehow relate back to the company.”

Could we help? Of course we can! We love a challenge, so we came up with almost two dozen ideas, which we share with you now, with a call for your thoughts and projects: What works at your organization, in your community, with your group?

1. You know best your colleagues’ appetite for climate-science/big picture vs. individual impacts, cool products, and daily actions that contribute to a positive impact. We prefer a balance. Smart first step: ask the group to complete a quick assessment survey, and see where everyone comes out.

2. With that, you can also poll the group to find out how they first became interested in the Green Ambassador group. Encourage them to share the story of their own original interest in sustainability.

3. With permission, or anonymously, share the most interesting stories in a post for the group. There will be interesting stories, we promise. They may also be painful or slightly embarrassing, so please remember to be sensitive and respectful.

4. Are people willing to relate their stories on a monthly Green Team meeting, in-person, call or webinar? Even better. Gently encourage quieter members to talk about their “green journey.” As individuals get to know one another, they’ll want to collaborate more.

5. Find out if people have a favorite art installation, data visualization, designer, book, film, building, lipstick, running shoe, or cartoon relating to the environment. Share these. (See 14, ahead.)

6. You do not have to direct all of this yourself. If a natural leader for a theme or activity surfaces, delegate! Good: now you are building a team!

7. Dive into the most popular blogs relating to sustainability. Offer your favorites and ask others for theirs. You’ll all get fresh ideas and data. Do not know where to begin? Maybe start here or here. (Then look at 18, below.) If your group has an appetite for news, some of you can choose a topic, lead a conversation, and create action items for the group.

8. If people enjoy this, call it “Pass the Mike,” and ask small groups on the Green Team to lead the monthly discussion.

9. Now you can create a calendar for the next twelve meetings! Why is that a good thing? First, you’re planning ahead and sharing the program. Second, you’re able to assign tasks and share the load (see 5, above). Third, you can be strategic.

10. If your corporation has stated goals for the year, incorporate them on your Green Team program. Everyone likes to know where they’re headed.

11. Continuing education: Scout local or online classes that relate to corporate goals and individuals’ interests. Some corporations offer a vetted selection.

12. If group members are participating in a training, course, or certification, organize a study group to discuss and get even more from the experience. Including, undoubtedly, more ideas for the larger group.

13. You probably have a bunch of new Green Team group members by now! Decide among yourselves if “Green Team” is the best name. Order some cool swag!

14. Films you could screen together, with discussion to follow: Years of Living Dangerously (here is episode 1), Vice environment channel, Merchants of Doubt are a few that we know and like. Ask for a couple volunteers to scope out the library of TED talks to view together and discuss. Here’s a playlist of TED talkscalled Earth, appreciated.

15. Dive into the new Sustainable Development Goals that nearly 200 countries agreed on in Paris, to be ratified on April 22nd. Which of these 17 big audacious objectives is your company already working on? Probably a few!

16. Academics: their institutions, think tanks, and their work; to follow and discuss:Yale Program on Climate Change Communication; University of Minnesota IOE/Ensia; MIT ClimateCoLab; Presidio; Arizona State University, Columbia’s Earth Institute; Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment; the Metcalf Institute for Environmental Reporting, Princeton Andlinger Center for Energy & the Environment; the Erb Institute at the University of Michigan. Climate Central, the World Resources Institute, NASA. eyes on earthDo not worry about struggling with dense wonkiness here: you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the clarity and modern, fresh imagery.

17. If you have a college or university nearby, you have your own local source of academic insight. Cast a net for other VIPs you’d like the group to know: a business leader or community problem-solver a chef-entrepreneur intent on zero food waste; or a couple of moms who are organizing a green schools initiative. Reach out and invite them to join you for a meeting. They’ll be delighted.

18. Leverage relationships with the NGOs that your company is already associated with or might become associated with. I’m thinking of world-class orgs focused on large companies, such as Ceres, RE100, EDF, World Wildlife Fund, We Mean Business, The B Team, Net Impact, CDP, Connect4Climate at the World Bank, the Nature Conservancy. Many of which have local chapters. All of which have excellent content and events that your members might like to participate on. Maybe youll run a community planting project, or support a water-conservation pledge in your city. Your Green Team will have lots of suggestions.

19. Arrange a field trip to see local and sustainably produced chocolate, beer, or socks.

20. There are lots of interestingconferences out there. Send a delegation to network, get inspired, and bring home ideas to share, use at work and at home.

21. Do not forget your own backyard! You may have innovative, effective projects and practices ongoing in different areas of your business. If you’re not sure, ask the CFO where decisions are being made to reduce waste and improve efficiencies. Why not organize a tour of your recycling facility, a solar installation, or the HVAC systems? Your facilities managers may be doing amazing things.

22. Invite in your most exciting executive leaders and partners for updates. Perhaps your Chief Marketing Officer can chat about a campaign that positions your brand in a game-changing way. Maybe you send her some questions in advance. How did she come up with this? How does she measure success, and what’s next?

23. Get social! Is someone on the Green Team great on Twitter, Facebook? Create a dedicated feed to keep it going between meetings. Coordinate with the company social media team to support their efforts. P.S. Be sure to follow @goWeSpire and please subscribe to our blog!

What’s Number 24? Please tell us your ideas!

P.S. Be sure to follow @goWeSpire and please subscribe to our e-newsletter!

Three Honest Reflections from Watching “An Inconvenient Sequela”

It’s been 10 years since Al Gore’s landmark film, An Inconvenient Truth, succinctly made many everyday people aware of the very real climate crisis we were facing. This week, I had a chance to watch the follow-up movie, “An Inconvenient Sequel,” and reflected on the progress, and challenges, we’ve seen in the past 10 years.

My own awareness of environmental health related problems had been awakened a year earlier and as a result, my family was embracing lots of new personal choices. I remember seeing the first movie and realizing that no matter what I did to change how we ate, how we reused and recycled, changed what we drove, and how we powered our home that the climate crisis required big, bold audacious solutions that scale. That movie was just one of the many inspirations for leaving an organization I loved to become part of a relatively early wave of “climate entrepreneurs” when I founded WeSpire [formerly known as Practically Green].

This week, as I watched the follow-up movie, “An Inconvenient Sequel” and it prompted the following reflections.

  1. This has been a really hard 10 years. Although it’s been filled with some landmark reasons for hope and celebration, like the Paris Accords and the huge boom in solar globally, we’ve also experienced profound discouragement and challenges ranging from the lack of funding for cleantech innovation to of course, our current president’s position on just about every topic related to the environment. I was so appreciative of Al Gore’s honesty and candor about how hard it’s been. If nothing else, it made me feel like part of a club of fighters and survivors who are prevailing in spite of daunting odds.
  2. Everyone who is fighting for a cleaner, more just and sustainable world will be on the right side of history. This point was one of the most poignant and passionate parts of the movie. Al Gore is someone I think of professor-like, but not necessarily a Martin Luther King-esque inspiring speaker. However, as he so passionately and eloquently likened the climate movement to the fight for civil rights, women’s rights, and marriage equality, I almost jumped out of my seat and cheered.
  3. One line that really stood out, particularly in light of this week’s events, was when he said that we not only have a climate crisis but a democracy crisis. From his TED Talk, he says, “As important as it is to change the light bulbs, it is more important to change the laws. And when we change our behavior in our daily lives, we sometimes leave out the citizenship part and the democracy part. In order to be optimistic about this, we have to become incredibly active as citizens in our democracy. In order to solve the climate crisis, we have to solve the democracy crisis.”

This week has been one enormous reminder that our generation has an absolutely critical mission to restore trust in democracy and in our ability as a nation to come together to solve really big problems. We need to join together as businesses, as cities, as towns, as neighbors and friends to insist and ensure the equitable and fair treatment of all people regardless of race, gender, sexual preference, and ethnicity. We can ‘ and will — solve the climate crisis in part by asking everyone to push their business, their town, their school and their state for a transition to cleaner sources of power. The UN Sustainable Development Goals have also given us frameworks and targets for the other goals that ensure a better and more equitable world for everyone.

We’re excited by the commitments that towns, cities, states, and businesses have made to move forward towards achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. To do our part in accelerating this movement, WeSpire has launched 18 campaign that align with the UN SDGs to support building awareness and inspire people to take action. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for help, support or guidance. We’re always willing to lend a hand to companies trying to tackle these important issues.