By Adam Schreck, Creative Ensemble
I know what you’re thinking: Celebrate Earth Day at the office? But I usually only celebrate at home, with the family. We gather ‘round the empty fireplace–because it’s forbidden to burn wood on Earth Day–and take turns giving thanks for all the Earth has provided us!
Trust me, I know. I do that, too. Everyone does that. But why should Earth Day only be observed at home, when it has the potential to be such a wonderful team building experience at work?
- After all, consider the benefits of working in a fun environment:
- Reduced stress
- Encouraged creativity
- Improved communication
- Strengthened relationships
- Increased productivity
Shouldn’t we always be chasing those happy side effects? This Earth Day, try one of these five exciting ways to ensure maximum fun and maximum eco-cred at the office.
- HEAD OUTSIDE
Head outside to that teeny-tiny little patch of grass in front of your office building and huddle together for a cozy picnic. Want to bond as a team? Then play as one. Organize a game of softball, volleyball or, if you’re a particularly un-athletic bunch, a Frisbee Golf tournament. Whatever the activity, just dedicate some time to making memories with your coworkers in the great outdoors.
- PLAN A SEED EXCHANGE
Just as “Secret Santa” is a customary practice at Christmastime, “Secret Seed” is a hotbed of fun around Earth Day. The rules are ex-seed-ingly simple:
- Names are placed in a hat and drawn at random. In a pinch, a basket or cup may also suffice; buckets are considered tacky.
- Participants plant a seed in a small pot that will live on the desk of the name they have drawn. (Though not required, thoughtful consideration into what type of plant the person would most enjoy is appreciated).
- The pots are exchanged at a prearranged gathering, where merriment and a boost of photosynthesized oxygen is had by all.
Whereas the appreciation that comes from receiving a Secret Santa gift is fleeting (“Cool, a mug with a clever turn of phrase on it”), a Secret Seed can go on perennially. Small talk becomes more interesting. No more, “Hey, Karen. How about that traffic?” Instead: “Hey, Karen, how is your nasturtium coming along? Did you know those flowers are edible? My Parsley is doing quite nicely, thank you.”
- ADOPT AN ENDANGERED CREATURE
Remember how much fun you had as a kid taking care of the class turtle? This is just like that, except it’s not a turtle. It’s a rhino or a panda, and you never have to worry about losing it somewhere in your garage when it’s your turn to to take it home for the weekend, because this animal lives in a different state or country and merely relies on your crowdsourced generosity, not your actual physical care!
Think of the fun your team can have working together to maintain its dedicated Instagram page. The selection process is also an opportunity to get to know your coworkers better: What kinds of animals do they like? What kind of animals don’t they like? What kind of name would they give an Atlantic puffin, and who gets to keep the plush toy that comes with the adoption?
- COMPETE IN GOING GREEN
Demonstrate your commitment to environmental protection while also engaging in friendly competition by holding various “Going Green” contests.. Prizes go to the person who uses the least amount of paper in a week and the person who rides his or her bike to work most often. Finally reward the guy who works in the dark like a vampire, or give praise to the temp who stopped using plastic water bottles but doesn’t insist on walking to the water fountain every four-and-a-half minutes to fill up their reusable one! (Is she only filling it up a tiny bit at a time? Does she actually drink that much water? Why must she announce what she’s doing every time she gets up?)
- THROW A POTLUCK
In the spirit of reuse and recycle, throw a traditional Earth Day “Make-A-Dish-Out-Of-The-Stuff- That’s-Lived-In-Your-Pantry-Forever-But-You-Don’t-Know-What-To-Do-With-Even-Though-It’s-Definitely-Still-Edible” Potluck! This is the one and only time were there is no such thing as “too many cooks in the kitchen.” And should you be “that person” who forgot, there’s always some leftover tuna in the break room fridge.