Pexels Akil Mazumder 1072824

The Green Team: Leading the charge for sustainability at 84.51°

Pexels Akil Mazumder 1072824

Meet the Green Team – a group of passionate 84.51° associates who work to promote sustainable and earth-friendly best practices. The Green Team spearheads a diverse array of sustainability initiatives, from waste reduction programs like office composting and recycling, to events such as plant sales and park cleanups.     Over the past few years, the Green Team's efforts have diverted thousands of pounds of waste from landfills, helped educate associates on sustainable best practices and forged partnerships with local organizations aligned with their mission. We caught up with Green Team Leaders Lee Allen, Andrea Harrison, Carly Schaible and Cindia Wren to learn more about how this people-led team is driving positive change within our organization and beyond.   

One of the big challenges we see is managing waste. There are so many decisions to be made day-to-day. Can this be composted? Is this recyclable? Can this be donated or do I have to throw it away? What can be re-used? There are so many options. There is a big problem with the use of single-use plastic and it can be hard to find alternatives.   

What are some initiatives or activities that the group has organized?

We have done many events and activities over the past few years. Some examples include:   

  • Hug a Tree contest  

  • Nominate your favorite park (winning park got $500) 

  • Tree donations 

  • Launching the compost program in both Cincinnati and Chicago (we’ve composted more than 31,678 lbs of food and paper towel waste since 2022) 

  • Info sessions (at-home composting, solar panels, recycling and others) 

  • Plant sales  

  • Volunteering at Paddle Fest in Cincinnati  

What are some sustainable practices or changes that have been implemented within 84.51° offices?

We use a central waste disposal program in our offices in Ohio and Illinois with plans to expand the program to our other offices. This means that we don’t have waste cans at every desk. Instead, individuals take their waste to a central location where they choose between landfill waste, recycling and confidential shred, helping them make more intentional choices. All confidential shred is recycled. 

When decommissioning furniture, we work to make sure our furniture is not thrown in the landfill if it still has useful life left in it. Instead, we partner with organizations that work to rehome the furniture. In 2023, we diverted over 42,000 pounds of decommissioned furniture in our Cincinnati office from the landfill by repurposing it with other organizations. 

All printers default to two-sided printing and we use a badge scan release printing program, limiting the number of wasted prints. We also use hands-free plumbing fixtures to minimize water waste.

We have free EV charging stations in our Cincinnati garage and our electricity is generated from 100% renewable energy sources. We also bring in as much fresh air into our Cincinnati office building as possible, increasing the quality of our indoor air beyond code required standards.  

In addition, we purposefully designed our Cincinnati office building to provide as much natural light as possible for our associates, via large windows, skylights and a stairwell canyon that bring light deep into our building and access to outdoor space on almost every office floor. In Chicago, we created a shared collaboration area along the windows to provide the best daylight to all.  

Do you collaborate with other people-led groups or community organizations on events and campaigns?

We have done some collaboration. Our Plant Sale was done with Degrees of Giving where the sales from it went to charity, we worked with the Steps Challenge this year to add a component of picking up trash while you walk to win an additional prize, worked with the Working Parents Group to make a “green craft” on Bring Your Kids to Work Day (they made planters out of used yogurt jars), work with all our food vendors to be sure to supply us with compostable utensils and plates for all company events. We also worked with the Last Mile Food Rescue to make sure leftovers from company events such as Area 51 go to people that need it. 

What’s your vision for the future? Where would you like to see the group in five years in terms of activities and company impact?

Some of the visions our team called out in our most recent meeting were more volunteer opportunities, helping associates live more sustainable lives through help and education, create new events such as company yard sales, learn more from Kroger’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste action plan and work more closely with them. Lastly, just continued growth of our team and passion from our associates to be a part of the solution! 

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