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5 Green Ideas to Get Your Customers (and Employees) on Board with Earth Day This Year

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April 22nd might seem like any other day, but it’s not – it’s Earth Day. First celebrated in 1970, the holiday is now recognized in more than 190 countries, with many leading corporations and environmental organizations celebrating a week of activities focused on environmental issues.

The world’s most recognizable brands have created a wide array of Earth Day events and promotions that generate considerable exposure and publicity. For example, Starbucks offers free coffee or tea to customers who bring in reusable mugs. This heavily promoted Earth Day offer is a way for the company to educate consumers on the impact one person can make through conscious choices made on an ongoing basis. Tech leaders like Microsoft and Nokia also take part in Earth Day celebrations; both companies host e-waste events on their campuses to support electronic recycling.

Like large companies, small businesses can also showcase their commitment to building a healthy planet. Planning a variety of promotional activities around Earth Day can be a smart decision to help strengthen your brand while also enabling your business to become more sustainable. Earth Day efforts don’t have to be expensive. In fact, there are plenty of cost-effective ways you can promote environmental responsibility that make your customers feel good about buying from your business. Need some inspiration? You’re in luck. Here are five Earth Day ideas that will help you get your creativity flowing:

1. Pledge Your Commitment

Before you can encourage your customers to protect the planet, you need to communicate your own efforts. This can be as simple as pledging to make basic changes. For example, you can switch to energy-efficient light bulbs which use 75% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. Putting water faucet motion sensors in your business’ restrooms can save thousands of gallons of water per year. Reducing printing, recycling, and carpooling to the office can also make a significant impact.

2. Plan an Earth-Friendly Event

Non-profit organizations frequently sponsor Earth Day events to clean up local parks, plant urban gardens, or hold recycling drives. There’s no reason why you can’t create a similar type of event to improve eco-consciousness with both your employees and your customers.
Be creative and plan an event that will encourage participation and celebrate the holiday. Do you own a restaurant? Consider hosting a one-day fair that showcases local producers and the benefits of sustainable farming. Do you have an office with a small team of employees? Join forces and clean a stretch of a nearby beach or highway. Is your business exclusively online? You can hold a “virtual” event to raise awareness or funds for an environmentally-focused organization.

Even if you don’t have the resources to tackle your own Earth Day event, you can contact with local environmental groups to see if there are opportunities for partnership or sponsorship of events they are planning. Even taking a minor role in an established Earth Day event will expose your brand to new audiences and align your brand with a worthy cause.

3. Share Earth Day on Your Blog and Social Media Channels

Earth Day is a unique holiday because it is very much focused on educating others. For a small business owner, this means creating unique, relevant content about environmental issues for your blog and social media channels.

This can be as quick and easy as publishing your environmental commitment on Facebook. If you like to write, it may be worthwhile to create an informational guide, eBook, or blog series that highlights your passion for protecting the earth. Enlist the help of vendors, customers, or partner companies and consider creating co-sponsored content that can appeal to a wide audience.

Has a product or service that you sell helped a customer reduce their energy consumption? A customer case study can be shared across your social channels. Do you have conservation and energy-reducing tips that may help others within your industry? Consider pitching a bylined article to the top trade publication. Your commitment to the environment might just inspire other business owners. It’s important to keep in mind that sharing Earth Day celebrations with your online communities has the win-win effect of motivating others and creating a warm feeling around your brand.

4. Offer Earth Day Gifts and Promotions

One of the best ways to spread the word about Earth Day and your business is to offer giveaways that generate interest and build loyalty. Earth-friendly, imprinted shopping bags are inexpensive promotional freebies that can be used again and again. Custom Earth Promos offers a variety of reusable bag options that can be printed with your logo. They also sell other inexpensive eco promotional items like reusable water bottles and pens.

Want to really wow your customers? Promote your Earth Day promotion and giveaway on postcards printed on biodegradable seed paper that actually grows. The key is to creatively showcase both your business and your environmental efforts. By doing so, customers will begin to associate your brand with making a positive difference in the environment.

5. Give a “Green” Award

Do you have customers, vendors, or local residents who are making big strides at reducing their eco-footprint? Showcase their efforts by honoring them for their “green performance.” Many large companies, like AT&T, have established award programs to recognize the achievements of individuals’ environmental efforts. Small businesses can use this same approach by handing out an Earth Day award to an employee or customer who goes above and beyond in their sustainability efforts.

Award nominations and winner announcements can be promoted in local and industry publications, and via social media channels. It’s a great way to increase exposure for your business and for someone who is making positive changes in the world.

Consider Every Day Earth Day

Earth Day is only one day, yet the challenges of climate change and diminishing natural resources are our responsibility throughout the year. Small business owners have a unique opportunity to take a dedicated, local stance on sustainability and engage others about Earth Day and environmental causes.

It’s fantastic to be enthusiastic about Earth Day as a celebratory and educational event, but these efforts are most sincere when they are followed up with ongoing, steady action.

Does your business celebrate Earth Day? Tell us about it in the comments.