It’s Earth Day! While it’s not exactly an easy time to celebrate the great outdoors in the great outdoors, it’s always the right time to recognize the needs and wonder of our planet. Now more than ever, many of us at Silverline are vigilant about doing our part for the environment in simple, consistent ways — particularly while we’re currently unable to get together in person to do more as a team.
I spoke with Kevin Hoxie, our Associate QA, and Daniel Sanchez, our QA Manager, about their commitment to Earth Day and beyond, as well as Greenliners, an affinity resource group (ARG) at Silverline of which we’re all members.
Our group’s purpose is to empower and educate one another about incremental changes for the health of ourselves and our planet through plant-centered eating, knowledge sharing, eco-centric activities, and ethical living locally and globally. Earth Day is an important time to remind us of the commitment we hold dear 365 days a year.
Why should people recognize Earth Day each year?
Kevin: Earth Day is a great way for all of us to be more mindful of how our everyday lives affect the planet and what we can do (big or small) to ensure we are helping create a cleaner, more sustainable planet — not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
Daniel: People should recognize Earth Day every day in any way they can. That said, Earth Day is a great reminder and refresher on how we can take more steps to protect our planet. We quite literally cannot exist without it, so it’s critical to remember to do as much as you can every day with all we know about climate change and humanity’s effect on the planet in 2020.
What do you do to make a difference individually or as a group?
Kevin: I have always tried to find ways to be more eco-conscious (from cutting out plastic utensils from delivery, donating things I own instead of throwing them away, composting, grocery shopping with reusable bags, being an early adopter of LED lighting, re-using single-use containers, etc.) so that I can make a positive impact on the planet.
My goal is to live a life that gives back to the environment more than I take. I have been a vegetarian on and off for 7 years, and a vegan for a year now, and I try to give information to those who also want to try out the vegan lifestyle (favorite recipes, easy recipes, vegan alternative foods, info on vegan foods that a lot of people don’t know are vegan) so that it is an easier jump into the vegan world. I also was in the process of joining a community garden right before Covid-19, so that is on hold until the summer.
Daniel: I have been vegan for a few years now and have therefore been able to reduce my carbon impact. Some other small steps I’ve taken: shopping secondhand, composting via GrowNYC, recycling both paper and plastic/metal, and shopping locally as much as I can. The thing to keep in mind is that small actions done consistently add up. Doing something once is valuable; doing it over and over and over forever is more valuable. Additionally, getting involved with groups that advocate for the environment like Extinction Rebellion.
How can companies make eco-friendly efforts while enacting social distancing and work-from-home policies?
Kevin: I think one of the best ways is for companies that have not done the work-from-home lifestyle is to set up programs (intro to Zoom, weekly check-ins, weekly updates for the whole company, virtual meetings of company events that used to be in-person, bringing the social aspect into work with trivia, happy hours, scavenger hunts, etc.) and being open to feedback while transitioning to a work-from-home company in order to make adjustments that help employees adjust to the new normal. This way employees will be better set up for working from home and will entice employees/employers to cut down on requiring everyone to work from the office, which cuts down on travel significantly (especially for companies employees cannot take public transportation to get to). One of the biggest carbon emitters is private transit, and America needs to start cutting back on this.
Daniel: Silverline has always been focused on a remote-first delivery methodology for our business, which eliminates carbon emissions for business travel. This is something that has always been a differentiating factor and why I chose to work at Silverline in the first place. Other consulting companies have their resources travel every week. This adds up and creates an unnecessary carbon footprint for something that can be done remotely.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone wanting to make changes to their lifestyle for their own benefit, and for the good of our planet?
Daniel: As I touched on above, it’s about small incremental changes that are consistent and built on one another. I didn’t start my life as a vegan. I was a meat eater, I was a vegetarian, and then vegan. It’s not binary. It’s not all or nothing. There is always more you can do. Focus on making changes you can control, and having long-term goals you can shoot for. Don’t let yourself fall into the mentality that if you can’t do it “all” it’s not worth doing at all.
Kevin: Do research, reach out to family/friends/community to see what they are doing, and start small! Something as small as replacing all of your lights in your house with LED will cut your electricity consumption tremendously. Then, start making changes either one at a time or a couple of things. Try doing a meatless Monday, or taking public transit (if it is accessible in your area) instead of driving or rideshares.
I see some people try to make many changes to their lifestyles all at once since they feel the need to do a lot in order to make a difference. These people are generally overwhelmed with these changes and revert back to their old ways. Daniel brings up a good point with how he went from being a meat eater to a vegetarian, to a vegan — about working on changes you can control. That method of starting small and gradually moving up is a lot easier to follow and a lot easier to maintain.
Why did you join the Greenliners ARG at Silverline?
Daniel: As a founding member, it was important for us to get this initiative together for Silverline. Over the five-year course of working here, I’ve seen us try all sorts of initiatives to reduce our footprint. From day one, we’ve focused on remote work — reducing costs for clients and projects — but also reducing our impact on carbon emissions. We’ve made efforts in the office (thanks to Kevin!) to have reusable silverware and cups, eliminate plastic as much as possible, and recycle and compost where we can. After multiple different unofficial groups and initiatives, we thought it made sense to start the Greenliners as a way to really bring all our collective ideas together, and help work together.
Kevin: I always look into ways to create a better environment, and during my time as Silverline’s Office Manager, I was able to help out a couple of different ways in the office to be more eco-conscious. (You can blame me for the office not having plastic straws anymore!) With the Greenliners ARG, we are taking the practices and policies that only applied to the office and offering a program for the whole company to participate in.
Beach vacation or forest adventure? You can only choose one!
Daniel: As someone born and raised in Miami… I’m going to have to go with a forest adventure. Preferably somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. Maybe when quarantine comes to an end…
Kevin: This is a tough one! It’s like asking me to choose which one of my plant children I like more! As much as I love being outdoors and enjoying any chance I can get to be in nature, I am a beach bum through and through. There is just something about sticking my feet in the sand, and hearing the waves crash against the shoreline that is so relaxing. I actually have a beach trip at the end of July planned, but it might be moved until things get back to normal.
Find out more about diversity, inclusion, and belonging at Silverline… including employee-led ARGs!