Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Launching and Supporting a Green Team

Every spring, eBay hosts an innovation expo that inspires its employees to come up with innovative ideas to benefit its users. In September of 2010, eBay announced the winner was a powerful idea called “simple green shipping.” This eBay-branded box reduced the environmental impact of the eBay marketplace because it was reusable and composed of 100% recycled content. The eBay Green Team was so enamored by the idea, they worked to make it successful world-wide. 100,000 boxes were sent to 100,000 people and eBay found that if each box was used 5 times, they would save 4,000 trees, 2.4 million gallons of water, and over 293 thousand watts of energy. EBay’s customers loved it too because it saved them money while saving trees. The commercial success of the box can be attributed to the efforts of the Green Team. This story has inspired us at Angelpoints to explore and think intuitively about the importance of Green Teams.

Typically, Green Teams consists of a voluntary group of employees that are dedicated to supporting waste reduction, recycling, and responsible purchasing of items such as light bulbs and paper. In the eBay example, a Green Team tested a sustainable innovative product design. Whatever your goals, here are some important steps to consider when establishing a Green Team at your company.

How do You Build a Successful Green Team Within an Organization?

· Strong Executive Support - The company must believe in the ideas that the Green Team puts forth, take it seriously and initiate it in a proper manner. The executive support validates the importance of team work within the organization and helps to prioritize and remove obstacles.

· Align Green Team Goals With Sustainability Goals of Company - This is significant because Green Teams won’t receive support if they are taking their goals in a different direction then the company’s goals.

· Foster Diversity Amongst Team Members – Choose representatives from different business units, department levels and cultures in order to provide varied perspectives and insights along with new ideas. Having management, administrative assistants, with IT and housekeeping as team members can give everyone the ability to contribute and become unique assets.

· Keep Teams Fresh - Move around positions of leadership among different people to create new opportunities for leaders and ideas.

Source: Webinar Powerpoint Slide #14 (Password: greenteam)

How do You Make Sure That Launching The Green Team Goes Smoothly?

· Appoint One or Two Team Leaders –Leaders should be committed to the program so they can manage the Green Team, oversee programs, and act as a liaison between management, maintenance staff, employees, and recycling vendors.

· Hold Meetings Consistently (Every Two Weeks Seems to Work Great) – The meeting should help to set up a basic program and discuss how to best implement this program. The team should make decisions and split up tasks.

· Come up with Project Ideas as a Team - The team should then come up with project ideas that can range from deciding what exactly to recycle, to deciding whether solar panels would be a worthy investment for the company.

· Create systems For Measuring And Tracking Initiatives - Technology and software tools are available today to help keep track of your progress and prove the worth of investment resources (i.e.

Benefits of The Green Team

Green Teams can have a profound effect in an organization, and for the planet. Shoshannah Lenski, from the Boston Consultancy office, found that 75% of surveyed employees thought that becoming environmentally conscious within a company was significant to morale, talent retention, and recruiting. This means that employee retention and engagement goes up by merely becoming greener! It also is critical in professional development. Clorox’s Suzanne Henricksen said her experience in managing a workplace change project was instrumental to her development of leadership skills.

The most evident benefit in establishing a Green Team comes from the reduction of costs and the environmental impact. Becoming efficient and sustainable pays off in the long run, because it saves energy and conserves resources. Betsy Hansen, a Senior Marketing Manager at Sun Microsystems, decided to eliminate one printed direct mail piece, which saved the company 4.63 tons of paper along with thousands of dollars. This can lead to an enhancement of brand reputation and profitability because consumers are more willing to buy from a company that shares similar values as them. In eBay’s case, the work of their Green Team led to product innovation and increased customer satisfaction.

Source: Webinar Powerpoint Slide #7 (Password: greenteam)


A Green Team is an excellent resource to gain a step ahead of the competition for companies moving towards sustainability. Employees will be willing to volunteer their time to move towards a greener company the majority of the time as long as the executives seem like they are encouraging it, and thus management should push the concept. If an organization uses these tips as guides to initiate and run the Green Team, the company may see very positive changes towards creating a green future.

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