They collect your lunchtime bottles and cans and take them home to recycle. They research and compare photocopiers, printers and office furniture choices. They lead the move to off-set the carbon emissionsassociate with business travel by planting trees. They are behind the flextime and work-shifting policies that see some employees working longer shifts on fewer days of the week on-site and more employees working from home most of the time.
“They” are called green teams and they are out to create a more sustainable workplace, a more sustainable business and a more sustainable way of life for all of us. To say they have taken on the huge responsibility of caring for our planet and its people is both an exaggeration and an understatement.
According to the website, Triple Pundit, which calls itself a new media company for highly-conscious business executives, “Green Teams are self-organized, grassroots and cross-functional groups of employees who voluntarily come together to identify and implement specific solutions to help their organization operate in a more environmentally sustainable fashion.”
Whether you’re a corporate executive, an administrator or even a child in elementary school, it is easy to become overwhelmed – even depressed – by the sheer magnitude of the challenges facing the planet.
Here are three ways to keep your green team motivated, unified and happy
1. Celebrate small victories
Working within a bureaucracy, whether it is corporate, governmental, or charitable in nature, is frustrating. The pace of technological change is fast, while changing attitudes is slow and stubborn. Deciding that change is required, and just being able to state the reasons for those changes to a diverse group of stakeholders sitting at the same table is reason for celebration. Getting those stakeholders to agree to provide employees with refillable water bottles instead of bottled spring water is another reason. Encourage your green team to break its monumental tasks into small, achievable milestones and take time to congratulate each phase of your success.
2. Focus on overcoming setbacks in the first 20 minutes
When you hit a setback, deal with it immediately for 20 minutes. Take five minutes to vent frustrations and share disappointment. Immediately follow that five minutes with a ten-minute brainstorming session about how to overcome the problem, or problem personality, you are faced with. Use humour for the first five minutes to get you going and be all business for the second five minutes. With the final five minutes, take stock of your session and choose one action to take next.
3. Share any and all success stories
There is enough bad news. Share the success stories, regardless of where they come from, how old the stories are, or how small the changes might be. The Condo Residents who reduced their household waste by 95% live much like most of us do. The Man Who Planted a Forest, was not rich or powerful when he started his work. Kids who embrace Meatless Mondays to spread the availability of food security are learning about their role in sustainable global development. The Solar Panel Evangelist who converted his neighbours to the power of renewable energy is worried about his own sphere of influence. The Gardening Grandmother who shared her seedlings was just being neighbourly.
All of these are stories of what we can do. Our planet’s future is too important to get bogged down by being told we can’t do what we already know is possible. That is what brings Green Teams together. It’s what keeps them going too.