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Make Green Personal!

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Personal Messages for Green Action

To Robert Hildreth, the sustainability movement has to move beyond just the environment in order to maintain its momentum. It has to become personal.

The most successful corporate sustainability initiatives operate on a micro level, encouraging individual employees to green their personal environments, according to Robert Hildreth, vice president of global strategy at green-branding firm Saatchi & Saatchi - which maintains 153 offices in 83 countries with nearly 7,000 people.

Speaking at a conference in Rhode Island, Hildreth pointed to the success of Wal-Mart's Personal Sustainability Project (PSP), which his company developed.

Wal-Mart Hits It -- Green for People

"The green movement in general suffers from one of the largest communications problem that’s out there," Hildreth says. "We need to orient ourselves more around making the problem so compelling that it draws people in."

For example, Wal-Mart's PSP encourages employees to find small ways to green their personal environments, from recycling more to walking to work one day a week. One employee suggested turning the lights off in break room soda machines, a move that now saves the company $2 million each year on electricity bills.

Wal-Mart’s 1.3 million employees were asked to tackle a small problem that was important to them – quitting smoking, losing weight, recycling more, walking to work one day a week.

What doesn't work, according to Hildreth, is creating company "green teams" to develop big-picture programs that don't engage employees on a personal level. Green teams at some companies lack enthusiasm, "Nobody really cares about it; they’re just sort of doing it," says Hildreth.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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