Earth Day 2014 Sees Empowered Employees Demanding Green Workplace

Posted by Heidi Schwartz

Ricoh Americas Corporation Earth Day 2014
Earth Day 2014 sees empowered employees demanding green workplace (Photo: PRNewsFoto/Ricoh Americas Corporation)

Forty-four years of Earth Days (April 22) have clearly emboldened employees to demand a greener workplace. A full three out of four employed U.S. adults1 (75%) say they would insist upon change if they saw obvious wasteful practices at work, according to a new online survey of over 900 U.S. workers conducted in March by Harris Poll and commissioned by Ricoh Americas Corporation. Two out of three employees (67%) would “report” their company if it harmed the environment. And, remarkably, more than two in five (44%) agreed with this statement: I would rather be unemployed than work for a company that’s knowingly harming the environment.

More than one in 10 (11%) say they actually are aware of activities at work that could damage the environment, and more than one in three (35%) believe their employer would sacrifice the environment for revenue.

“It certainly is a new world of work,” said Jason Dizzine, Director, Technology Marketing, Ricoh Americas Corporation. “Forty-four years ago, whether a workplace was conservation-minded or not, being green just wasn’t a substantial part of everyday conversations. Today’s workers, however, are more mindful of the fact that natural resources are scarce and that the planet can sustain only so much consumption.”

Guilt, Yet Hope

As environmentally concerned as the employees responding to the survey are, they say they often fall short in their actions. Nearly half of employees (46%) say they feel guilty that they’re not doing enough to help the environment, and more than two out of three employees (68%) agree they do more for the earth at home than at their workplaces. Still, there’s every reason to be hopeful. Nearly three in five (59%) believe the world will be more sustainable in 2050 than it is today.

One playful survey question resulted in some interesting responses. Employed adults were asked to classify themselves by choosing one of the following descriptions:

  1. Army Green (I find ways to be green at work every day and demand that my co-workers do as well)
  2. Forest Green (I recycle paper only since there is a recycling bin next to my desk)
  3. Emerald Green (I do something green once a day)
  4. Olive Green (I do something green once a week)
  5. Sage Green (I do something green once a month)
  6. Dusty Green (I can’t remember the last time I did something green at work)

Emerald Green was the most popular choice (26%). A generational twist emerged in this part of the survey: those aged 55-64 were far more likely than younger employees to describe themselves as Army Green. Twenty-seven percent of the 55-64-year-olds chose the answer vs. 14% of 18-34-year-olds, 17% of the 35-44-year-olds and 14% of the 45-54-year-olds.

The Ricoh survey was conducted online within the United States between March 18 and 20, 2014, among 2,063 adults aged 18 and older, of whom 948 are employed full/part time.

1 Employed full/part time

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