Key Tips from a Green Team Guru

Staples Earth Day

Meet Susan D’Souza, Senior National Manager of Quality, Sustainability & Regulatory at Staples Business Advantage and dedicated Living Planet @ Work champion. Since 2008, Susan has been an integral part to advancing the sustainability agenda within her organization. In fact, she spearheaded the creation of the company’s green team, which now has presence in every province across the country!

So, how did she do it?


One Step at A Time

The national success of Staples Business Advantage’s sustainability efforts didn’t come overnight. In fact, Susan’s green team started out with her recruiting a handful of passionate individuals at her site in Mississauga through e-mails, huddle communication boards, and simple water-cooler chats with their colleagues. Over the course of the next few months, this newly established green team worked tirelessly to plan events such as fundraisers for local charities, environmental awareness campaigns and even the creation of the company’s first sustainability report.  This CSR report was entered in HP’s first Sustainability Reporting contest and won the award in 2011. “Success of our sustainability efforts is attributed to our strong associate engagement and our sustainability champions across Canada. Over the years we have received awards from COPA (Canadian Office Products Association) four years in a row for Community Leadership of Excellence, YMCA award for Outstanding Achievement in Volunteerism ,  and Excellence in Corporate Responsibility from Green Living Enterprises.”

The Green Team Sprouts

As the team continued to implement these initiatives, the sustainability stories and successes were shared to employees nationally via internal newsletters, Intranet portals and various social media channels. Employees caught wind of these efforts and wanted to learn more about how they could get involved. This is how the Staples Business Advantage green team sprouted across the country. “After sharing our environmental plans, results and stories with all employees, other locations came forward wanting to get involved and start their own teams” says Susan. Now, our company has a green team in every province in Canada”. And to think - it all started with just a few associates.  Over time the initiatives we tackled were not only environmental but also about giving back to communities , hence more holistic in scope resulting in our green team name evolving to “sustainability” teams across Canada with regular sustainability newsletters issued to our associates.

Establishing your Green Team won’t come overnight – but it will happen!

Growing Your Green Team — Key Tips: 

We asked Susan to provide us with some key tips on how to successfully start and expand a green team across the country. She shared five with us:

1)      Establishing your green team won’t come overnight – but it will happen!

Don’t get caught up if you can’t gain green team momentum right away. Continue to have regular meetings with your team, organizing small events and communicating your efforts. Eventually, you’ll see the results of your hard work.

2)      Get buy-in from a senior executive.

Ask around to see if there is a senior-level employee who can support you in your green team efforts. Their buy-in will make your work so much easier and far more effective. 

3)      Share your plans and stories.

Take the time to write posts, send e-mails or organize phone calls highlighting your environmental ideas, plans, successes and stories.  This is the only way that others will catch wind of your awesome efforts!

4)      Looking to expand? Assign a green champion for each site.

Find someone who is willing to lead the green team at their site. This will not only reduce your workload, but it will allow for the site’s environmental initiatives to be more successful. 

5)      Make it FUN!

Associates gravitate to your sustainability initiatives when you make it interesting and fun.  Getting associates to understand the cause of why you are implementing it will result in more momentum and engagement around your initiatives and ultimately maximize your results.

Susan is one of many Living Planet @ Work champions who are leading the way up ‘mount sustainability’ within their organizations, and you can do it too! If you’re thinking about starting a green team within your company, feel free to reach out to the Living Planet @ Work team for tips and advice on how to get started.

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