Eco-Action: Employees volunteer for greener corporate culture
What started off as an initiative to recognize Earth Day six years ago turned into a long-term, grassroots effort by a team of TransAlta employees to advocate for the environment — both in and outside the company.
“There is a desire to want to know — and do — more for the environment amongst our employees. Our first eco-challenge was a success and, seeing that interest, we formed a small Eco-Action Team to roll-out additional initiatives throughout the year,” says Jessi-Ann Riddell, a senior communications advisor who co-founded the group.
This year, the employee-run team organized its sixth annual Eco-Fair, hosted its fourth Bike to Work day, and participated in Calgary’s pathway and river clean up. The team also runs a speakers series that has included presentations about biking to work, the arts and engineering festival Beakerhead, the University of Calgary solar car and Light Up The World (where twice a year, employees install solar panels in remote regions of Peru that do not have electricity).
Other initiatives the team has hosted over the years include a competitive employee Eco-Challenge, head office patio vegetable garden, a company-wide Picture Yourself Green photo contest, print-less challenges and campaigns for recycling, PC/monitor power-off and auto-duplex printing.
Riddell says she is not surprised that employees are taking such an interest in helping to plan and host the team’s environmental initiatives.
“At TransAlta, there is a strong and longstanding culture of giving back to our communities,” says Riddell. “Involvement in the Eco-Action team demonstrates that our employees value sustainability and social responsibility and that we’re actively fostering these values at our company.”
Six years later, the core team has grown from two members to nearly two dozen.
“We’ve found a model that works and have been able to expand the team’s reach to host initiatives in all the locations where we operate: Canada, the U.S. and Australia,” says Riddell. “We’re creating a ripple effect — with each initiative we host and each employee who changes their behaviours because of us, we’re demonstrating that seemingly small efforts can lead to real and positive change for the environment.”
Learn more about TransAlta’s actions in our latest Report on Sustainability.