- Why this matters
- How to get started
- Choosing your projects
- Getting support
- Case studies
This action guide describes how to build a group of climate-interested advocates in your workplace, and how to get them working together on a project that will have a concrete impact on the crisis.
Note that this guide addresses starting an independent, employee-led climate group. If you want to start a chapter of a specific climate-focused organization (such as Climate Reality or 350.org), contact that organization for assistance.
Why This Matters
Climate and sustainability issues are perceived to be costly, so companies ignore them, even if the solutions are beneficial to the bottom line. This is why it’s important for climate-conscious employees to work together to propose and implement climate solutions. Increasing consciousness and building influence in the workplace is vital for a successful transition to a carbon-free future.
How to Get Started
Find like-minded people in your workplace. If you work at a large company, they may already have a green team in place, or have a process for starting such a group. If there is no green team in place, try talking about climate in casual conversations. If anyone responds with eager concern, they are a good candidate for the green team. You only need one or two committed colleagues to get started.
Set up a regular meeting and communication method. You might organize a lunch meeting, or start a Slack channel or equivalent space for discussion. Try to meet once a week or every other week. It might help to set some ground rules — Who will organize the meetings? How comfortable are group members with speaking up? What will be recorded?
For the first few meetings, take some time to get to know what sustainability issues matter to the team. Brainstorm ideas for climate action in your workplace. Try to find other members & allies. Find out whether your company has any climate commitments or initiatives. Find out who makes these decisions.
Choosing Your Projects
The problems of moving to a sustainable future can easily overwhelm people, so choose a specific area for your Green Team to address. As you do that, think about feasibility and potential impact — what does your company already do? What tools do you have access to? What knowledge does your team have, or can easily acquire?
We recommend starting with one easy, visible action (like reducing single-use plastics in the office kitchen or giving a presentation) and one long-term campaign that employees across the organization can support (like a petition for sustainable 401k options). If you need more ideas, refer to the other Action Guides or ask in #green-teams.
Some potential focus areas include:
- Waste reduction
- Energy efficiency or management
- Re-wilding or nature conservation
- Divesting, investing, or donating
- Green software design/engineering
- Sustainable product development
Once you have decided on a focus area, come up with specific ideas. Some ways to generate project ideas:
- Run a design thinking workshop based on your chosen theme
- Brainstorm with your fellow Green Team members
- Ask the leadership team about sustainability goals and how employees can get involved
With your plan in place, get the word out!
- Tell your company’s leadership team about your initiative; if there is no company-wide environmental strategy, you might start one!.
- Bring more people into the Green Team to help out as the project moves along.
Regular communication will build your group’s credibility and bring others on board with the effort. Ways to get the word out include:
- Regular emails/mailing list
- Participation in company events
- Dedicated team events
- Flyers, posters, or other literature
- A page on your company wiki
- An external Web site
Make sure people have a way to ask questions, and that it’s easy to join the Green Team.
Don’t forget to recognize your results and celebrate successes along the way!
- Sustainability at Work’s Green Team Guide: Published by the City of Portland, this guide contains more details on prioritizing actions and performing a cost-benefit analysis.
- Bringing impact into your workplace | TEDxClimateActionTech: CAT member Arnaud Gillard talks about bringing impact into your workplace through a green team effort.
- How to Create a Team Working Agreement
- Design Thinking
- On-site waste recycling & composting [to view, log in with CAT Slack account]
- Rebecca Stevenson
- Melissa Hsiung