Competition is an excellent motivator to promote green behavior. Ask Amy Marpman, director of recycling services at Great Forest Inc., a leader in sustainability consulting for over 20 years. Great Forest spearheads sustainability solutions and provides project management expertise to clients nationwide, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to educational institutions, hotels, retailers and property management companies.

According to Ms. Marpman, corporations can learn from college campuses, where a growing number of programs like Recyclemania are successfully getting students to compete to conserve and reduce waste. This competitive spirit can be recreated in offices as well.

The key to a successful office recycling challenge is participation. On a college campus, it’s easy to get students involved through group activities and volunteer participation. The challenge is to get employees to mimic that effort—yes, those folks who are constantly busy chasing deadlines and rushing to meetings. But don’t lose hope, says Marpman, “…the fact that corporate employees come to the same place every day, and are busy at their desks is a plus for face-to-face engagement, which is highly effective. So while campus competitions concentrate their efforts on large, public areas, outreach at corporate challenges should be focused on desk-side efforts as well as a few key common areas like the pantry, where workers gather.” Also, while colleges compete with one another, colleagues can face off internally against office departments or floors.

The writer offers suggestions on how to up the green initiative ante in the workspace. For starters, set the length of competition and decide how long you want the competition to run. Measure success by figuring out a realistic goal and conduct a compliance check before the competition begins. Launch an awareness campaign to get everyone motivated and appoint green team leaders to monitor success. Corporate competitions are a great platform for action and interaction. By putting the power into your employees’ hands to make a difference, you are setting the green standards for your company’s environmental sustainability growth. So compete to conserve.

Source: Amy Marpman | June 26, 2012 | Environmental Leader

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