Alysse Gear, Taste of Home’s very own Green Team leader, helps the entire Taste of Home offices celebrate Earth Day.
Nearly a year ago now was my first day in the Milwaukee’s Reader’s Digest/Taste of Home office. I was welcomed by a big cube, new laptop, incredibly cheerful co-workers—and a few environmental blunders that later would disappear. This was a fantastic place to work in innumerable ways, but we could stand to improve in our eco-friendliness.
I waited three months and approached our endlessly cooperative HR staff. Was there some sort of environmental committee at our office? I’d been to a few Activities Committee events, so I figured we might have other groups I could join. But no—there was a void in the green arena. And I was ready to fill it.
Now, just over six months have passed since I planned our first Green Team meeting. I had waited until September to have our first session, because summertime is just crazy with Christmas cookie cookbooks, holiday recipe testing and other delicious projects. As the green leaves prepared to fall to the ground, a group of staffers gathered to pick up the slack and keep our office green year-round. And without them, this team would not exist, and our office would not be buzzing with pride over all we’ve accomplished so far.
Our first big project got rid of the piles of polystyrene cups we had around the workplace. We saved 33,000 cups a year from entering the landfill and sold adorable insulated cups instead. Win-win? I’d say! We’ve added drying racks to encourage people to use reusable dishes and silverware, begun a composting program with the food scraps from our beloved test kitchens, maintained a fun, friendly and sometimes funny bulletin board to inspire our co-workers and more.
But this Thursday took the cake. Over 150 of our staff gathered in the Courtyard for the Green Team’s first (hopefully annual!) Earth Day celebration. It was an incredible success, with each partygoer getting his or her own free water bottle, courtesy of Half Price Books. And because of Birds and Beans, they sipped free coffee, too. Other businesses, local and national, aligned with our mission to reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle and beyond. They donated gift certificates, gardening supplies, gift packages, bottles of local liquor and piles of other goodies to our raffle and silent auction, and we raised over $500 to use for in-office programs and community outreach. And I have to add—those raffle tickets were only 50 cents each. What an impressive turnout for our first party!
As we go forward into these next months, I can’t wait to see what our passionate, innovative team has in store. Each of us scrape together the little extra bits of time we have, and all together, we have created a special group that makes a big impact around our office. This is a unique opportunity to help the planet in a corporate setting, and we are all so lucky to be part of it. I’m sure you can find a million quotes on Pinterest about one person making a difference. At our office, the Green Team and its individual members prove that every day.
Happy Earth Day to each of you. Here’s to making a difference in the lives of your families in your kitchen, in your hearts, and—on Earth Day and every day—outside!
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