Architectural Design Firm Challenges its People, Clients and Communities to ‘Lighten Their Load’ on Wednesday, April 22.
This Earth Day, more than 2,100 HOK employees on three continents are being challenged to “Go Barefoot” by reducing their waste footprint to help eliminate harmful greenhouse gas emissions created from the production and transportation of products and their disposal into the world’s landfills.
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The architectural design firm's second annual “Go Barefoot Day” comes on the heels of last year’s inaugural Earth Day event, which challenged HOK people to reduce their carbon footprint by altering their travel habits. This year’s challenge aims to raise awareness about the amount of waste we produce and how to reduce the firm’s collective environmental impact.
“We are using Earth Day as a catalyst for making simple behavioral changes that will have a profound impact on our collective waste footprint,” says HOK Sustainable Design Director Mary Ann Lazarus. “After making this single-day commitment, we hope our people are inspired to make permanent, positive changes to their normal habits, both at the office and at home.”
Leading up to Earth Day, HOK sustainable leaders from 24 offices worldwide will conduct a series of “secret” waste audits at each office location to determine the amount of waste produced on a typical business day. On Earth Day, the entire firm will undergo a public waste audit during which all employees are encouraged to significantly reduce or eliminate waste, with the goal of reducing solid waste by at least 50 percent.
Possible ways to reduce one’s waste footprint include making lunch at home and using washable plates and cutlery instead of purchasing takeout food with disposable packaging; drinking beverages from a reusable container instead of a disposable one; reviewing documents online instead of printing them; and recycling or composting everything possible.
To share ideas and progress leading up to "Go Barefoot Day," HOK has developed an internal “Barefoot Blog,” arranged guest speakers, recommended videos relating to waste management and scheduled field trips to local recycling facilities.
“By quantifying the impact of simple behavioral changes, we can demonstrate how individuals can contribute to a significant reduction in waste and greenhouse gas emissions,” says Sara Graham, the firm’s sustainable knowledge manager, who is organizing the events. “The blog and local activities will promote awareness and connect our people around the world through their ideas, experiences and successes.”
As part of the initiative, HOK also is inviting its clients, partners and local communities to join the firm in reducing its waste for the day. “We hope this year’s ‘Go Barefoot Day’ builds momentum beyond the offices of HOK and inspires our clients and communities to walk alongside us,” Lazarus says.