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  • Writer's pictureAnna Davidson

Earth Day with IMA

Happy Earth Day!

Not only is today Earth Day, but all of April is Earth Month. This time of year is useful to reflect on our impact on the environment–as businesses and individuals. There is a lot we can do, both big and small, to make a difference around us. 


What is Earth Day?

Earth Day was born on April 22, 1970 as a protest in the United States. Over the prior decades, pollution and conditions got noticeably worse across the country–from smog-filled air to garbage-filled water. It came to a head after an oil spill in January 1969; that was when United States Senator Gaylord Nelson decided to do something to raise public awareness. Nelson involved others, including activist Denis Hayes to organize students, and managed to create a massive event. In the first year alone there were demonstrations across the country; 20 million Americans (10% of the population at the time) joined in. 


The momentum of Earth Day led to tangible changes in the United States in the way of legislation that continues to protect the environment today. It has also become an annual event for environmentalists to raise awareness across the world. You can learn more about the origins and history of Earth Day on their website, https://www.earthday.org/history/.

Earth Day website

When did it become Earth Month?

So far, we’ve been talking very specifically about the United States when it comes to Earth Day. So when did it expand? It wasn’t until 1990 that Earth Day reached the rest of the world. As that happened, it started to be celebrated within the entire month to garner wider attention and involvement. Now, there are events all over the globe that span the whole month and keep us talking about these essential issues. 


Earth Day 2024

Earth Day poster
Image from earthday.org

This year, Earth Day (and month) is focused on Planet vs. Plastics. The Earth Day organization is calling for a 60% reduction of the creation of all plastics by 2040. This call to action stems from the continued pollution of plastic materials in our environment. Studies have found microplastics everywhere–from our atmosphere to our homes to our bodies. That accumulation of microplastics has been shown to have negative health impacts. With all that in mind, Earth Day’s campaign is meant to raise awareness and encourage political action to move towards a healthier world where we can end plastic pollution. 


IMA’s Earth Day

This month, we wanted to bring awareness of Earth month to employees and decided to have a little fun with it via an Earth month-themed game of bingo. Each item on the board is an action that’s more eco-friendly. These include items like turning off the tap when you brush your teeth or going out and picking up trash. 


It can be easy to forget about Earth month amongst the busyness of our everyday lives, so we hope to give our employees a fun way to think about what small changes they can make in their own lives to better care for our planet. It’s also a nice way to appreciate our employees, with each “bingo” being an entry to win a prize! 

Earth Month bingo

 

As an organization, we’re also using this month to talk about what we can be doing better to minimize our impact. These are still in the idea stage, but we’ll talk more below about how we have already made great strides! 


How IMA focuses on being environmentally aware

It is every business’ responsibility to understand their environmental impact and do their best to minimize it. IMA keeps environmental impact in the forefront of our minds as we implement policies and changes. We’re also continually trying to improve and do better. 


One of the major changes IMA made to become more environmentally friendly was actually completely unintentional. When the COVID-19 pandemic caused businesses to close their doors, IMA transitioned to remote work. At first, we intended for employees to come back to the office once it was deemed safe. Then, as you know, the pandemic stretched on longer than first expected and IMA came to learn that employees were generally happier to work remotely. Eventually we decided not to renew our office lease.


How does that impact our environmental footprint? For starters, IMA no longer uses the additional utilities of an office space. But the biggest impact is perhaps the fact that employees are no longer commuting daily and thereby creating carbon emissions with their vehicles. Some of our employees were previously commuting to the office from as far as an hour away each day! 


IMA - eco friendly

As we said, we’re continually looking for ways to improve our organization. For example, as we look to replace old, end-of-life equipment, we are focused on finding new equipment that uses less energy and works more efficiently. We also do our best to find appropriate electronic recycling programs when we do our replacements. 


Initiatives you can make

As a business, there are a lot of options for reducing your environmental impact and raising your employees’ awareness! A good place to start is looking at what your impact really is. With that in mind, consider some of the common initiatives you can start:


  • Implement a recycling or composting program in your office. If your city doesn’t already have recycling or composting, there are lots of companies that offer services your office can use to reduce the amount of waste you send to landfills.

  • Swap products for more efficient ones in your office. Find soap refill options, change light bulbs for more efficient ones, replace paper or plastic cups with mugs employees can wash and reuse.

  • Reduce unnecessary travel. A lot of meetings have switched to virtual since the Covid pandemic; consider when this might be possible instead of having employees drive or fly somewhere. 

  • Host a trash pickup event for employees. Have interested staff meet up to collect litter somewhere local.

  • Create other events or games to involve employees. Earth month is a great time to raise awareness and get everyone involved! You can even have employees submit ideas of how to improve your company’s eco-awareness or what events they want to see.


Eco-ify your everyday life

There are, of course, plenty of changes you can make in your personal life as well! In general, you can think about how you can reduce your use of plastics and disposable items as well as how you can limit your power usage. Here are a few highlights from our bingo board:


Eat 1 fewer piece of red meat this week / Have a meat-free day in your family

According to research, meat production is a major cause of greenhouse gases. Reducing the amount of meat you eat, even slightly, can make a big difference in your individual impact. As a bonus, research shows that reducing the amount of meat you consume, especially red meat, can improve your health.


Join a Buy Nothing group / Check if you can buy something used before buying it new

Fast fashion and overproduction is a serious issue today; companies often throw perfectly good items into the landfill because there's a perceived demand to always have new things. By resisting the urge to buy new, we can make a difference, while also saving money.


Buy Nothing groups (primarily on Facebook) are great location-based groups where you can give and receive items for free. If you can't find something through there, you can turn to thrift stores or Facebook Marketplace to find cheap items.


Have a “leftovers” day (or week!) where you eat up what’s already in your pantry/fridge/freezer / Go through your pantry and donate any shelf-stable, unopened food you won’t eat to a food pantry

Food waste is another common issue we all see. While compost programs help us reduce our impact, it's more efficient (and cost effective!) to find ways to use up the food we buy. With that in mind, consider picking a day to use up what you have or donating what you've come to realize you won't use. Plus, donating to a food pantry or a Little Free Pantry is a great way to get rid of the excess in your pantry while supporting food insecure families in your area.


Wash your laundry with cold water

This is a really easy change that makes a surprisingly large difference! According to Energy Star, 90% of the energy used by a washing machine is used to heat the water. By using cold water (or even warm), you significantly reduce the amount of power needed and your clothes come out just as clean. In fact, cold washing your clothes is often better for the longevity of the fabrics!


Experts also recommend reducing how often you launder your clothes, based on whether they're actually dirty or not. You can also complete the green-ification of your laundry routine by air drying your clothes. 


Search for nearby places to recycle a hard to recycle item, like batteries or electronics (if you have any–take them there!)

More and more, there are free ways to recycle these types of hard to recycle items if you're able to take the time to drop them off. You can also keep track of organizations that run recycling drives or businesses like Staples that often have electronic recycling programs. Once you find a place, offer to take your friends and family's recyclables as well!


Go around your home and unplug every device that isn’t being used

All the devices we have plugged in--from toasters to lamps to phone chargers--are still using a small amount of power even when they're off or not in use. You can save energy (and money!) by pulling out the plugs when you're not using the item. It's okay if you don't do it for every item–sometimes it's not convenient. But every little bit makes a difference (for the planet and your hydro bill).


Use a reusable water (drink) bottle for a day instead of a disposable one / Bring/store food in a reusable container instead of a plastic/paper bag

It's easy to use one of the many reusable water bottles you surely have or pack up your lunch in a tupperware. These actions make a difference in your plastic consumption and also reduce your grocery bill!


Find one repair you can do and actually do it! (ex. Sew on a new button, clean your shoes, mend a hole, turn an old clothing item into something new)

A lot of the time when something breaks, we don't even consider fixing it. It's often easier to throw it out and get a new one. But why create waste (and extra costs) when we don't have to? Patching, sewing, and mending clothes can be a surprisingly fun way to fix items that have holes or stains--especially if you change it in a way (ex. embroidery) that makes it a one of a kind piece. And if you can't fix something, think about how you can turn it into something else!


Watch/read an environmental documentary/book

Watching a documentary or reading a book is a great way to get inspired as you end your Earth Day. There are plenty of options out there that will give you background on why certain movements and changes matter, and even give you resources to join in protecting our environment.


Conclusion

Earth Day is just a starting point for a continued journey of becoming more environmentally aware. We hope you take some time to think about what you and your organization can do! 


All Earth Day information was taken from https://www.earthday.org/. For questions or comments, reach us at info@imaltd.com

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