CIBC’s cross-Canada shoreline cleanup

© CIBC

On June 10th, more than 700 CIBC employees and their families grabbed their gloves and garbage bags for the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, a conservation partnership between Ocean Wise and WWF-Canada. In communities large and small — from Halifax to Yellowknife to Chemainus, Vancouver Island — these enthusiastic volunteers gave up their Sunday morning to clean 70 kilometres of beaches and parks at 48 sites across the country.

As CIBC’s senior manager of environmental risk management and chief Cleanup coordinator, Cindy Bailey was thrilled by the turnout. “It’s been really inspiring,” she says. “It makes me so happy to see the level of enthusiasm and engagement from our employees.”

Four years ago, Cindy suggested the bank get involved with the WWF initiative. Although CIBC had a long history of constantly improving its environmental performance — through lighting retrofits, recycling programs, smart printing initiatives and more — it didn’t have a specific volunteer opportunity for eco-conscious employees.

The Canada-wide Shoreline Cleanup fit the bill. “We can get people involved right across the country,” she explains. “That’s one of the reasons we really love this event.”

"You can make a huge difference in a short amount of time." - Cindy Bailey, Senior Manager, Environmental Risk Management

The initiative proved an instant hit, growing from four pilot sites in 2014 to nearly 50 this year, setting a 2018 record for the most cleanups taking place on one day.

The event provides a great opportunity to get together with colleagues outside of the office and do something positive for the environment (and yes, to engage in a bit of friendly competition to see who can fill the most bags or find the strangest item).

It’s also a chance to give back to the communities where they live and work. During cleanups, passersby approached CIBC volunteers to say how happy they were to see CIBC pitching in. “Our employees and our clients care about this,” Cindy says. “They want to see us doing the right thing.”

Staff are encouraged to bring their partners and kids with them, helping them learn about conservation, have fun together outdoors and develop a lasting sense of stewardship for their local beach or park. And at the end of the morning, the pile of garbage bags proves just how much they’ve accomplished.

“You can make a huge difference in a short amount of time,” says Cindy. “You come away from that feeling energized and just feeling really good about what you’ve done.”

Learn more about how your company can tackle shoreline litter by visiting shorelinecleanup.ca 

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