Earth Day: These Three R’s Aren’t What You Think
The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970; 45 years ago this April. I was in elementary school and well remember that day and the awareness it sparked in me and my classmates. Our teacher instructed us to pick up trash all around the school grounds. Together with my classmates, we separated that trash into piles of paper, plastic, and wood. Then, we went inside for our science lesson, which was focused on the three R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. That lesson channeled a consciousness in me and many others.
I have another set of R’s that resonate beyond the school yard and into the business world. These three R’s will guide you forward in your sustainable journey:
1. Refresh – To address the environmental demands of tomorrow, we need those with fresh perspectives to lead the way. That can be all of us! Consider one of your projects or programs and dedicate yourself to at least one change that will make a difference. Challenge yourself and your team to think “outside the box” on how to improve efficiency, eliminate waste or use environmentally-friendly materials.
2. Recommit – As you develop plans to meet your business commitments, commit to an achievable environmental sustainability goal with the Mission Success of future generations in mind. Once you reach that goal, recommit to a more aggressive goal on the next phase of the project. And so on. You’ll make progress and make a difference at the same time.
We at Lockheed Martin continue to challenge ourselves as well. After Lockheed Martin achieved its waste-to-landfill goal ahead of schedule, we established a more aggressive company-wide commitment targeting an overall reduction in waste generated, promoting – yes, those other Rs – reduction, reuse and recycling. Our new commitment is to reduce total waste generated by 7 percent and increase recycling by 8 percent.
3. Reward – It’s easy to get caught up in all there is to do and forget to see the rewards of what you have accomplished. Recognize your teams and colleagues for their efforts! We can take pride in the fact that in five short years, Lockheed Martin has
- decreased the amount of waste sent to landfill enough to fill more than 287 C-130Js!
- reduced carbon emissions equivalent to taking more than 44,000 vehicles off the roads, and
- saved enough water to fill the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C. over 100 times!
This progress is exciting and personally rewarding. That first Earth Day 45 years ago was a symbol of environmental responsibility and stewardship. For me, it opened the door to a profession that I cherish and respect. It also affords me the pleasure of working with those who also carry this respect and commitment. However you commit to reducing environmental impact, make sure it’s rewarding to you and that you applaud your team for their efforts.
Carol Cala is the Vice President of Energy, Environment, Safety and Health (ESH) for Lockheed Martin. Carol oversees the ESH organization and Chairs the ESH Leadership Council that sets corporate policies and direction. She evaluates the Corporation’s ESH performance and and provides leadership in establishing initiatives to improve corporate-wide performance; this includes Lockheed Martin positions on emerging regulatory and legislative issues and the Corporation’s interface with public stakeholders on ESH issues.
As we celebrate Earth Day 2015, I will join colleagues to build and hang bluebird boxes to support biodiversity at the Lockheed Martin facility in Rockville, Maryland. I suspect many of you will be marking Earth Day in your own way, and I encourage you to think of activities you can put into practice every day such as using reusable water bottles, ride sharing to save on fossil fuels, and turning off your computer monitor when you leave the office at the end of the day. Every small effort contributes to a larger cause, making an overall difference in maintaining natural resources for future generations.