Survey Finds U.S. Organizations Need to Think ‘Green’ to Attract Workers

More than 80 percent of U.S. workers polled in a recent National Geographic survey believe it is important to work for a company or organization that makes the environment a top priority. Yet, only 53 percent currently work for a company or organization that implements environmental or sustainable programs in the workplace.

In the survey conducted recently (Jan. 31 to Feb. 3) by Lightspeed Research, 88 percent of those surveyed also said that if they had access to easy tips for making their office green, they would be “very” or “somewhat” likely to work toward helping the environment by using those tips.

Tapping into this trend of embracing a green business philosophy is a new book from National Geographic that offers positive, practical tips for creating a green or healthier workplace. In bookstores from Tuesday, Feb. 19, TRUE GREEN @ WORK: 100 Ways You Can Make the Environment Your Business (National Geographic Books; ISBN 978-1-4262-0263-6; Feb. 19, 2008; $19.95), by Kim McKay and Jenny Bonnin with business journalist Tim Wallace, is a sequel to McKay and Bonnin’s smash success “True Green: 100 Everyday Ways You Can Contribute to a Healthier Planet.” This new book is a practical reference on how companies large and small and workers in any industry can go green and collectively make a huge difference in 100 simple ways.

TRUE GREEN @ WORK provides easy-to-implement ways of safeguarding our overstretched environment. The suggestions run the gamut, from simple steps that any of us can take, such as using refillable pens or the same mug for our coffee every morning, to innovative strategies companies can use to design green buildings and create a workplace ethos of environmental awareness and conservation.

McKay, Bonnin and Wallace also draw on their extensive industry expertise to profile 10 U.S. businesses — General Electric, Visy, SC Johnson, Marriott, Office Depot, Google, Timberland, Patagonia, Veolia and Interface — that are on the leading edge of green branding, marketing and corporate culture and whose inspiring stories are sure to motivate any company and employee to follow suit.

McKay and Bonnin write, “Corporate social responsibility isn’t just another management jargon term or the marketing trend of the month that you can pay lip service to and ignore. If you want your company to be around beyond the next quarterly results, it is the only way forward. It is about protecting and preserving what we have for future generations and their right to work and live in harmony with the environment…Our challenge is to every business leader to step up and take your environmental responsibility seriously. Your shareholders care, your suppliers and customers care, and your workforce most certainly cares.”

Here is a sample of the 100 ways employers and employees can make the environment their business:

  • Shut down your computer: Left on all day, every day, a computer will over a year use nearly 1,000 kilowatts of electricity, resulting in more than a ton of carbon emissions and an unnecessarily high electricity bill. Switching off your computer before you go home cuts electricity use to less than 250 kilowatts. Do the same with other office equipment.
  • Have an indoor plant: It’s not only nice to look at, it acts as a natural filter, absorbing airborne pollutants and computer radiation while replenishing oxygen levels.
  • Use recycled paper: It uses up to 90 percent less water and half the energy of making paper from virgin timber.
  • Set the printer to double-sided copies to save paper.
  • Keep a paper recycling bin in addition to a waste bin.
  • Bring your lunch to work in a recyclable container to reduce packaging waste.
  • Remove your phone charger from the power point when not in use, as it continues to consume up to 40 percent of the current used to charge your phone.
  • Choose eco-friendly office furniture and floor coverings: These are made from recycled or sustainably harvested materials, including old phones, computer casings, even vacuum cleaners, and are designed so they can be disassembled for reuse at the end of their life.
  • Introduce flextime and telecommuting: U.S. drivers waste nearly 6 billion gallons of fuel each year due to traffic congestion, typically during peak morning and evening commutes. This adds nearly 60 million tons of greenhouse gases annually to the atmosphere. Flextime and telecommuting arrangements help avoid traffic jams, reduce emissions and save time.

With its accessible format, lively approach and manageable tips, TRUE GREEN @ WORK is the perfect road map for businesses looking to go green. Timely and smart, it’s an informative guide for reducing waste and encouraging sustainability. To check out this book and other green books from National Geographic, go to

McKay, an international social marketing consultant, is co-founder and deputy chairman of Clean Up Australia and Clean Up the World. She co-wrote “True Green: 100 Everyday Ways You Can Contribute to a Healthier Planet” with Jenny Bonnin, published by National Geographic Books in 2007.

Bonnin is an international brand and communications strategist and a director of Clean Up Australia and Clean Up the World.

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