Empowering internal teams to create eco-friendly workplaces is a growing trend in improving sustainability practices in businesses and organizations, as 62% of responding companies reported in 2009 that they have adopted this method of greening.
"It’s become part of our jobs to take time to think creatively about sustainability," says Dedee DeLongpre Johnson, director of sustainability of Wake Forest University.
Groups of employees who volunteer to help identify and implement specific sustainable practices in their departments, known as "green teams," are flourishing.
Under these programs, organizations are encouraged to select green team "captains" to evaluate the current level of sustainable practices and make suggestions for ways to improve.
Ideas can be as simple as purchasing copy paper with recycled content or providing reusable mugs and utensils instead of disposable ones.
"Sustainability is not a one-size-fits-all concept," says Johnson. "Organizations tend to be more willing to embrace community-wide goals when they have had a hand in creating the plans to implement them. In using this kind of community-based approach, people often come up with ideas that are bolder than those suggested by the organization – such as having only one trash can per department as a way to encourage waste reduction and recycling."