By Ben Rand
Cindy McReynolds remembers this wondrous sense of freedom she felt on the occasion of the first Earth Day in 1970. And why wouldn’t she?
She was a 10-year-old middle school student in Wisconsin, the home state of the Earth Day movement’s founder, U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson. McReynolds and her classmates had been organized into teams of five to comb surrounding neighborhoods to pick up trash. No reading, writing or arithmetic, and no teachers that day – just friends and fun and open air.
But years later, McReynolds, a corporate accountant for Xerox, recognizes that day for something else: The start of a life-long commitment to the Green way of living that manifests itself at home and at work.
Whether she’s making sure that bottles and cans get into the recycling stream, suggesting ways to reduce the use of electricity, or adopting and nursing orphaned plants back to health in her office, McReynolds sees that first Earth Day – and the ones that followed — as central in developing a practical environmental view.
“I had this feeling that even if little kids can make an impact, then anyone can. And we can all do good things for the earth,’’ McReynolds says.
That’s a feeling shared by others at Xerox. Every day is Earth Day at Xerox – not just for employees who are proving in word and deed, but also the sustainability applications inherent in Xerox solutions such as our new transit planning apps for the cities of Denver and Los Angeles.
Green Hacks: Any Small Change
Several years ago, Xerox asked employees for their own personal “Green Hacks” – simple solutions at work and home that could reduce waste and promote a sustainable way of operating. The company’s environment, health, safety and sustainability organization received hundreds of suggestions – including one from McReynolds. She suggested the company install motion lights in not-so-heavily trafficked mailrooms so the lights would shut off if there is no movement after a period of time. In the alternative, she suggested signs asking employees to flip the switch on their way out. “I was raised to turn out lights as a cost-saving measure,’’ she says. “I tend to be a glass half-full person so I am fairly optimistic that any small change can make an impact.”
Indeed, that’s what Xerox is counting on, says Wendi Latko, vice president of Environment, Health, Safety and Sustainability.
“Employees are at the heart of any company’s sustainability initiatives,’’ she said. “They are the champions of the solutions and services that a company puts out to the world.”
“From an environmental standpoint, every effort, no matter how small, when repeated hundreds of times, can help. Simple actions to reduce energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions or waste, for instance, benefit the company and its customers — and our own homes and communities as well.”
A Green Champion
Nancy Goestenkors, a senior administrative assistant at Buck Consultants at Xerox, embraces the same “can-do” attitude. A few years ago, Goestenkors was named “Green Champion” of the St. Louis office of Buck. She reels off a long list of the “little” things: default two-sided printing on recycled paper; turning off her computer nightly; eliminating the use of Styrofoam products (which she helped by donating silverware, plates and bowls.)
She also got her office to join in the “Writing Instruments Brigade,” a recycling program through TerraCycle. Here’s how it works: TerraCycle sends a collection box to recycle sharpies, highlighters, pens, markers and mechanical pencils. After collecting five pounds of pens, you send the box in a postage-paid envelope back to TerraCycle, which in turn donates 2 cents per instrument to the Xerox charity of choice, which is the United Way.
She and her colleagues continue to explore many other Green efforts, such as recycling old strands of Christmas lights and extension cords, and National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.
Like McReynolds and others at Xerox, Goestenkors is a big believer that small measures add up to big impacts.
“We have to do what we can today to conserve the Earth for future generations,” she said. “Every little bit helps. I believe it also helps others be more mindful of how they live their everyday life.”