An internal community of people who would like to become drivers of Green Office innovations is now actively forming at EPAM. Just five years ago, there were not more than five members of the Green EPAM Team; this year, over 100 colleagues joined a Skype discussion of team activities. Ukrainians are concerned about ecology no matter where they live. Participants proudly spoke of their local green teams’ achievements and proposed ideas for raising environmental awareness. We expect great results in the future, but for now, I’d like to share some cases from 2018-2019.
- Use your own cup, 2018
This project aims to reduce the amount of plastic and paper cups used in all EPAM offices. On average, we purchase over 250,000 single-use tea and coffee cups each month for all our offices in five cities. How are we going to achieve this objective? By popularizing the use of personal cups. Each new employee gets an EPAM-branded cup on their first working day; they can also choose one as a birthday gift from the company. All we need to do is encourage people to use their personal cups instead of disposable ones.
Of course, we can’t give up disposable cups entirely. We have lots of visitors, and some colleagues move between offices. Obviously, they don’t carry their own cups with them. Our goal is to reduce the number of plastic cups by 30% within two months of the start of the project. We plan to measure our results by tracking purchases of disposable cups.
A few different approaches were applied during the project. We involved opinion leaders in popularizing the culture of using personal cups. We created a number of short videos delivering the key message “Use your own cup” on EPAM TVs all over Ukraine. We organized a corporate flash mob calling on employees to share their photos with branded cups in Yammer. Over 20 teams took part in this activity, with the biggest team having 50 members. Additionally, we put up motivation posters with photos of opinion leaders.
For the disposable cups we still use, we have set up recycling bins in our offices. We’ve also come to an agreement with food court and drink suppliers to provide beverage discounts for employees who use their own cups.
The results speak for themselves. Usage of disposable cups dropped by 20-50% in each city in just three months.
- Environmental flash mob One for All, 2019
The devil is in the details. One of these details is a personal bin next to each desk in EPAM offices. We appreciate the work our cleaners do, but quite often they take out almost-empty rubbish bags, replacing them with new ones. We decided to place common bins for multiple desks in the same office zone. Over 160 colleagues agreed to take part, returning 111 bins to storage. In just one year, we used 25,000 fewer rubbish bags. We could cover the area of the National Olympic stadium in Kyiv with the rubbish bags we saved in the Kyiv office alone.
This is a victory in another way, too. Not only did we reduce the quantity of rubbish bags by 220 kg per year, but we had more people involved in Green EPAM Team activities. Actually, the biggest achievement of this flash mob is not rubbish bins returned to storage. It’s the fact that people have shown that they care about the environment and want to do something to help!
Like most initiatives, this one has its story. Its author, Maksym Lavrynenko, became involved in eco-activism because he spent his childhood in Makiivka (Donetsk region) and saw there firsthand the negative impacts of indifference and irresponsibility. Today Maksym is unable to sit on the sidelines, and he looks for every possible chance to make positive changes in green issues.
Plastic rubbish bags take over 200 years to decompose.
- Become a tree caretaker, 2019
The most popular spring environmental activity is cleaning parks and green zones or planting new trees. But this format has lots of challenges. First of all, it’s hard to involve many participants because of a lack of personal free time. Typically not more than 20-30 people take part in such types of activities. It’s also not easy to find a land plot in the city for planting – it’s difficult to effectively communicate with local authorities, and there are certain restrictions under the urban garden plan. Planting trees in the forests requires even more time and volunteers.
This spring, EPAM successfully tested an innovative format that takes care of all these considerations. The initiative, Become a Tree Caretaker, lets people choose their own time and place for planting trees. We achieved a high level of engagement and environmental impact, i.e. we planted a lot of trees. In Kyiv and Dnipro, over 100 employees took part in the activity, planting over 150 trees. Participants could choose which kind of tree they wanted to plant – lilac, spirea, mountain ash, maple, apple or cherry – and the company provided the seedlings. Volunteers had only to choose a place for planting and look after the tree.
To measure the scale of the project, we created an interactive map on EPAM’s internal website which shows the location of our new trees. The map will inspire us to plant even more trees.
For those colleagues who wanted to participate but didn’t have gardening equipment, we organized a group planting in the city parks. These park lanes will enrich the city’s air with oxygen and delight eyes with their blossoms. I’m very pleased that not only our employees took part in this activity, but their family members did too – including young children, who now have experience in caring for the environment from an early age.
Personally, I feel it is essential that we take care of our planet. We can relocate to a different street, city or country, but we can’t move to another planet (yet!). And ever since my daughter was born, I find it impossible to ignore the problems to be solved for the sake of future generations.