Every April 22, we mark Earth Day to celebrate the bounty of our planet and take earth-friendly actions. But one day isn’t nearly enough. As scientists and environmentalists continue to research and measure the impacts humans have on the world, it is becoming increasingly important that we honor the spirit of Earth Day every day by investing in our planet year-round. 

The beginnings of Earth Day

Earth Day got its start when United States Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin envisioned a series of events on college and university campuses across the country to “show the political leadership of the Nation that there was broad and deep support for the environmental movement.”₁ Nelson hired young activists to organize the events, ultimately scheduling 85 individual events for April 22, 1970.

On that day, 20 million Americans came out to demonstrate and peacefully protest against environmental conditions in the United States. At the time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency did not exist, and many Americans had grown concerned about the lack of regulation around manufacturing, pollution, water quality, and more. 

The birth of Earth Day, and the gathering of a wide swath of Americans together in support of a common cause, is often referred to as the beginning of the environmental movement. Today, more than 50 years since its inception, Earth Day is celebrated in more than 193 countries around the world, uniting an entire global community to protect and preserve our planet.

The state of the environment today

In a new report published in March 2023, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a dire warning to citizens of the planet about global warming. In the AR6 Synthesis Report: Climate Change, the multi-disciplinary, multi-government team warns that the planet has warmed 1.1°C (33.98°F) above pre-industrial levels, and that it is likely it will reach 1.5°C (34.7°F) this century, making it difficult to slow or stop further global warming.

The inability to slow global warming would lead to dire consequences for humans, animals, and the planet. It could mean extreme heat, increased severe weather events, food and water shortages, species extinctions, and more. 

These worst-case scenarios are not inevitable, say experts. With a collective focused effort and investment of time, resources, and determination, the authors of the report say that a turnaround is possible. 

“Deep, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions would lead to a discernible slowdown in global warming within around two decades, and also to discernible changes in atmospheric composition within a few years,”₃ the authors write.

The bottom-line benefits of environmental action

For businesses today, taking environmental action can produce significant financial benefits. Research conducted in 2022 by Nielsen IQ found that 78 percent of Americans say that living a sustainable lifestyle is important to them. To do that, they will buy from and work for companies that help them align with this goal. Consider these facts: 

  • A 2020 survey by McKinsey found that 60 percent of consumers said they’d pay more for products with more sustainable packaging.₅ 
  • In 2021, Deloitte found that 42 percent of Americans have altered the way they consume products based on their environmental stance – and they’re bringing their friends and family with them, with 21 percent encouraging others to use companies that also align with their environmental view. Younger consumers are more likely to make switches than their older peers.₆
  • Nielsen’s research found that 61 percent of consumers believe that environmental issues are currently affecting their health or will do so in the future.
  • In its 2020 Census Report, digital workplace and employee experience platform Unily found that 65 percent of respondents said they were more likely to work with a company with strong environmental policies – but 83 percent said they didn’t think their current employer was doing enough.₇
High-tech garden tools

The consumer expectation that companies will fully engage in sustainability is increasing, and applies not only to goods directly purchased by the consumer in retail stores but also to service providers. Organizations operating spaces where consumers live, work, learn, and play, such as apartments and condominiumshotelsschools, technology firms, and healthcare services, also need to be engaged in and transparent about their sustainability initiatives.

3 strategies to help your business invest in the planet

If this all seems a bit overwhelming – you aren’t alone. While most large organizations have environmental, social, and governance (ESG) policies in place and their contributions to sustainability can seem huge, it’s important to remember that millions of small actions taken by smaller companies can add up into big outcomes for the planet. No matter your company’s size, all investments in sustainability and environmental improvements matter. 

While there are many strategies your business can take to invest in the planet on a daily basis, Ambius experts recommend these three overriding strategies that can have a palpable impact on how your business is perceived by employees, customers, and the public at large. 

1. Have a clear, well-documented ESG policy.

Before you undertake any actions, start by laying out your company’s environmental and sustainability goals, how you will integrate them, and how you will report on your progress for both internal and external stakeholders, including consumers. Documenting your policies so that you can hold your organization accountable is incredibly valuable.

Not sure where to start? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Center for Climate Leadership has a myriad of resources available to help companies with benchmarking and goal setting. And remember that just one or two meaningful goals may be a good place to start. Recent research from The Harvard Business Review has found that much corporate environmental reporting is lacking adherence to consistent standards. Also, it often doesn’t have third-party oversight, leading to data that is “misleading and incomplete.”₈

Emerging robo-agriculture

2. Consider a healthy or green building certification.

According to the World Green Building Council, building operations account for more than a third of all global emissions. Healthy and green building certifications, like LEED, the WELL Building Standard, and FitWel, can help you lay out a plan of action for making building improvements that can have a positive impact on emissions and resource use. These certifications do take an investment to achieve, both in certification-related costs and building renovation and design changes, but can pay off in the long run for businesses.

According to the American Institute of Architects, green buildings can sell for as much as 16 percent more than those that are not. In addition, buildings with LEED Certification can see a 3 percent increase in rental prices for every level of certification achieved and have a 4.1 percent higher occupancy rate.9 For more information, explore the Ambius series The Basics of Healthy Buildings Certifications on LEED and WELL.

Hydroponic gardens

3. Incorporate well-being into the design of your spaces.

Since many consumers associated wellness with sustainability, it’s more important than ever to “walk the walk” both in public-facing spaces as well as those accessible only to your employees. Look to improve air quality by utilizing air filtration and air purification systems. Use plantsgreen walls, and biophilic design throughout your spaces to help people connect with nature, reduce stress, and boost employee productivity. Provide quiet areas that allow for clarity and focus. Make amenities such as water stations, where people can easily refill their reusable water bottles, easily accessible.

These types of efforts will also support your environmental, social, and governance policies. Ambius would be happy to help you create a smarter, healthier space – connect with us for a complimentary consultation.

green wall

Don’t make the decision? Not a problem! You can still help the environment.

Company employees that aren’t in leadership positions can still help influence and change their organizations’ environmental perspectives. Look into whether or not your organization has an environmental or green leadership program. If so, ask how you can be a part. If not, express your interest in leading environmental initiatives to your direct supervisor. 

Ambius also has resources to help you get involved, both in large and small ways. Check out these recently updated lists for creative ways to inspire and engage yourself and others in investing in our planet.

A joint responsibility to our planet

As citizens of the Earth, we all share a joint responsibility to protect and preserve our planet for future generations. Whether as an individual or as a corporate citizen, if each of us commits to taking small actions every day, we can collectively make a difference and keep our planet thriving for generations to come. 

Ambius and the environment

At Ambius, our commitment to the planet is part of our mission statement: Protecting people, enhancing lives, preserving the planet. Along with our parent company, Rentokil Initial, we have committed to three pillars of sustainability.

  1. Sustainable solutions
  2. Sustainable operations
  3. Sustainable workplace

We invite you to learn more about these pillars and our efforts on our website

Sources

₁Nelson, Gaylord. Earth Day ’70: What It Meant,” EPA Journal, April 1980. Accessed online April 11, 2023.  

“The First Earth Day,” Earth.org. Accessed online April 11, 2023. 

AR6 Synthesis Report: Climate Change 2023. United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. March 2023. Accessed online April 11, 2023. 

Sustainability:  the new consumer spending outlook. Nielsen IQ. October 2022. Accessed online April 11, 2023. 

“Consumers care about sustainability—and back it up with their wallets,” McKinsey. February 6, 2023. Accessed online April 11, 2023. 

Consumers Expect Brands to Address Climate Change. Wall Street Journal. Accessed online April 11, 2023. 

Future of the sustainable workplace in the age of COVID-19 and climate change. Unily. Accessed online April 11, 2023.

ROI: Increasing asset values. American Institute of Architects. Accessed online April 11, 2023.