Business Clean Up Day happens each year in Australia in February.
The concept is simple: you register your intent, you pick a local spot that would benefit from a litter pick, you grab your work colleagues, employees or team and then you dedicate 2 or more hours to cleaning that area up.
The initiative has been highly successful in Australia with teams helping to clear tonnes of rubbish from local community and tourist areas. And you don’t have to wait until next year to get started. Arrange a date and time that suits you and your colleagues and get stuck in.
In the UK? Coincide your business clean-up day with The Great British Spring Clean running from March 20th until April 13th 2020.
How Will a Business Clean Up Day Help the Environment?
Some of the environmental challenges we’re facing are huge, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the calls to action on climate change and environmentalism, but you don’t have to move mountains to make a difference. Dedicating a couple of hours of your employee’s time to collecting and disposing of litter will make a positive impact.
Did you know that 80% of all plastic that ends up in the sea starts out in the rivers. Cleaning up alongside riverbanks will reduce the amount of rubbish ending up in our seas and oceans.
And did you know that the RSPCA get 5,000 calls each year regarding wildlife trapped or injured by rubbish: discarded plastic bags, bottles, broken glass and balloons can all have a devastating effect on animal and bird populations.
People are also more likely to drop litter in areas that are already littered. Clearing areas of rubbish, therefore, can have an immediate and positive impact not only on the local environment but on the people that use it, too.
More than 2 million pieces of litter are dropped in the UK each day. Some of it will take decades to degrade. It’s important that people take a pride in their local areas but it’s difficult to do that when places are unsightly, ugly and strewn with trash.
Cleaning up will help wildlife, it’ll help the environment and it could have a positive impact on the way local communities see their public and open spaces – not a bad result for a couple of hours work.
How Can Business Clean Up Day Help My Business?
It’s a tough economy.
Asking businesses, especially small ones, to be selfless isn’t easy. Giving up your time, money and the productivity of your employees to don gloves and pickers might sound like the last thing you want to do but there can be real benefits for your business.
It’s a great way to build morale and teamwork in an environment that’s less intimidating than some of the more traditional ‘team building and bonding’ exercises. Seeing the difference once you’ve finished gives employees a sense of achievement that’s far more valuable and affirming than sitting in a conference room building bridges out of straws or winning at paintball. It’s a great way for higher management to be seen to be mucking in with everyone else, too.
Business Clean Up Days are also one way of fulfilling corporate social responsibility (CSR). It shows willingness to do something proactive rather than just throwing money at a problem by donating to a cause.
It’s a good bit of PR, too. Local news outlets love covering stories of voluntary action. It’s the kind of CSR that looks good on social media and news websites and could easily be coordinated with a digital marketing team to enhance your company’s image.
It’s a great way to start conversations about sustainability with employees or management. Sustainable business practices are becoming quite the incentive for customers and becoming an eco-friendly business could help you find potential new clients and hires.
And lastly, being out in the fresh air and participating in physical activity has been shown to improve mental health and wellbeing.
How Can Businesses Organise a Clean Up Day?
Planning a day is relatively straightforward but there are some things to bear in mind:
Pick a shortlist of locations in your local area that you think would benefit from a clean-up.
Check to see if there are litter picking groups operating in your area. They’ll have lots of advice and experience to offer and you might be able to tag your clean up day onto one of their events or outings. In the UK, you can final local groups by searching on the Litter Action website.
Contact the local council as often they’ll be able to lend any equipment and should also arrange to collect the rubbish once you’re done.
If you’re planning to pick on private property, you’ll need permission from whoever owns the land.
You’ll need to do a risk assessment, too, to see if there are any dangers or concerns to be aware of. If an area looks unsuitable, then pick another spot. Don’t put your people in any unnecessary danger.
Advise your participants on what clothing they’re likely to need, whether they need to bring snacks and drinks and directions on how to get there.
You could also contact local businesses to see if they’d be willing to donate things that will help. You could even challenge them to a pick-off where whoever picks the most litter wins a prize.
You may need insurance or you may be charged a small fee by a council who can then cover you for public liability.
Engaging with environmental issues as a business doesn’t have to mean always making the big painful changes to practices or structures. For some companies, green credentials might start with clean-engineering (using human-powered energy to power buildings, for example) like Energym does. For others, it starts with something as small and as simple as picking up crisp packets from a road side or collecting plastic bottles from a riverbank.
Whatever you do as a business on Business Clean Up Day, it’s helping.