Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day: 20 Years in the Making

I was about 7 or 8 years old when my father first introduced me to the concept of Earth Day. At first, the thought of celebrating the planet for a full day sounded a bit trivial to me. I remember asking “Do we get to open presents on Earth Day?” Since the answer was a sad “no”, I never made a big deal of it. But not my father. He had been celebrating Earth Day since 1970, when it was first observed, and was into recycling, reusing, even regifting way before they became popular concepts. He also had a huge Earth Day poster hanging from his office wall, which he kept there for many years, even after he took it down, as the poster’s outline was permanently stained on the wall.

Two decades have passed and it wasn’t until this year that I officially celebrated my first Earth Day. You know how the saying goes: better late then never! But the day 20 years in the making couldn’t come at a better time, nor with a better way to celebrate it.

I recently joined Guidance, a Southern California-based developer of e-Commerce and Web 2.0 solutions. Interestingly enough, I was immediately drawn to the company’s Green committee, called Guidance Green, and decided to join. If this is the first time you come across our blog, then you probably don’t know that Guidance Green is a committee formed by Guidance employees who value the importance of living and working in a healthy planet. We seek to spread the word in favor of eco-friendly practices that can be carried out by companies and their employees.

This year, Guidance Green chose to have a booth at a local Earth Day fair. The main goal for attending the event was to inspire the audience to join our movement by employing new techniques to make their work a whole lot eco-friendlier than before. If you are wondering how to do this yourself, then you may want to try talking to your company’s management team and asking them to consider eco-friendly practices like recycling, company-wide carpooling programs, and even buying Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) to offset your company’s carbon footprint. To learn more, check out our Green Toolkit on How to Operate as an Environmentally Aware Organization and Reduce or Eliminate Your Carbon Footprint. You can also try modifying your work routine by following our 10 Tips to Make Your Day-to-Day Work Eco-Friendlier.

To draw people into our booth, we gave away three baskets filled with eco-friendly products, including reusable shopping bags from one of our favorite customers- Bentley Prince Street, gift certificates to The Veggie Grill and Buddha’s Belly, reusable mugs, containers and water bottles, organic snacks, and a lot more. Even the baskets themselves were made of recycled materials and the cellophane used to wrap them up was 100% biodegradable. The three lucky winners were overjoyed with their prizes.

I had a chance to talk to the event organizers, who confirmed that this year’s attendance and sponsorships had significantly surpassed that of previous years. It was a great experience to be part of such a rewarding event.

After what I think was a very successful day, I got home extremely exhausted but very exhilarated. I immediately laid on my couch to take a quick nap, but first I turned on the TV to watch the news. To my surprise, one of the major networks was airing a show called “Greening the Earth”. “What a great way to end my day!” I thought.

And so today we celebrate the real Earth Day, and all I can think of is how twenty years ago I didn’t know -much less care- about Earth Day and how much it matters to me now. So here’s to you, Dad! You never thought you'd hear me saying this, but -- Happy Earth Day! And Happy Earth Day to all of you.

Alejandra Espinosa
Guidance Green

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