*Senior Associate Stephanie Gunn, a member of the Associate Sustainably Council, shares five tips for greening your holiday season.
It can be overwhelming to try to shop local for the entire holiday but, this season, introduce local when and where you can. Buying local gifts not only stimulates the local economy, but it also lowers the carbon footprint of the overall gift giving process. Ninety percent of the carbon footprint caused by non-energy demanding gifts—such as books, clothes, etc.—is a result of the manufacturing and shipping of these goods. Keeping it local helps drastically reduce this impact. As you celebrate the holidays this year, consider purchasing local gifts certificates or tickets to events as opposed to objects, which have a larger carbon footprint.
We carpool daily to events, work and school, but somehow we seem to forget this budget and eco-friendly behavior during our endless holiday errands, get togethers and shopping trips. With increased travel this time of year, it is imperative to carpool.
Indoor air quality is one of the biggest environmental concerns in green living today. We tend to bundle up and hunker down this time of year (and rightly so), but be sure to let those legs get a little stretch as well. Talk a short walk with a loved one outside to stimulate your wellbeing. Relieve stress and tension as you allow clean, fresh air to invigorate your lungs and spirit. A chilly winter walk also helps us realize how fortunate we are to have a warm home to return to.
If you are decorating your home with a Christmas tree, purchase a real tree—which is the best choice with regards to the environment. Or, opt for a cut tree. Fun fact—Christmas tree farms plant 10 new trees for every one tree removed which produces enough oxygen to support 18 people and removes 13 tons of airborne pollutants. For your Hanukkah menorah, consider using Beeswax in place of candles as Beeswax is a non-petroleum, more sustainable alternative for candles. If you celebrate Kwanzaa, you can create your own kinara out of wood, logs or even reused glass bottles.
Wrap it up
It’s no surprise that holiday gift giving—with its endless wrappings, bows and plastics—makes Mother Nature wince. So this year, be conscious of your packaging and keep it simple. Reuse old papers and packaging to green your gift giving. If you want to purchase new wrapping paper, be mindful and buy products with recycled content to help stimulate the economic life cycle of recycled goods. Be sure to recycle your wrapping paper this year and save it for your next gift-giving occasion.
For more tips on how to make your holiday sustainable, click here
A Look Back on a Successful Campaign
When Hurricane Sandy barreled into our markets, leaving disaster in her path, she left feelings of despair and helplessness in so many of our hearts. But amid such hardship—including the destruction of homes, the loss of lives and the homelessness of many—great strength was born. Especially in Generation V.
Since October, you have banded together to truly show what it meansto be part of the Viridian family. From putting on work boots to trudge through devastated homes to digging through debris to find keepsakes for families to hosting food and clothing drives, your actions have humbled us.
Thanks to your support, Viridian has donated $10,000 to the American Red Cross, in addition to what we have already contributed to local relief efforts. Not only did you enroll customers by the droves—even in a difficult time—but you also made your voice heard on our social media accounts and in the field at sustainability relief events.
Social Media Success
We have always been excited by the fact that so many of our Associates continually join and lead our social media conversations but that interest soared exponentially during GenVCares. We saw unprecedented social media activity. Some fun facts:
- Our @ViridianPowerUP followers increased from 130 to 247 (in just three weeks!)
- Our GenVCares Facebook posts generated a milestone number of shares and comments. Our first post garnered 277 shares and 73 comments and the collective impact of shares and comments on GenVCares graphic posts was more than 815.
- Our retweets increased exponentially, as we had well over 40 retweets for the GenVCares campaign.
The Sustainability Front
In addition to expressing your sentiments on social media and digging deep to enroll customers during a difficult time, you also joined us in our desire to physically give back. From the very first few days following Hurricane Sandy until as recently as last weekend, you collected donations, scraped together your best construction clothes and headed to the places Hurricane Sandy hurt the most with tools and a smile in tow. You dug, chopped, swept, shoveled, lifted and cleaned—all the while maintaining that unshakeable Viridian spirit.
We want to express a heartfelt thank you to all our shining stars who spearheaded and participated in Hurricane Sandy relief events on such short notice. It is through your hard work and dedication that we are constantly able to show just how big our hearts are. Here’s a look at some of our GenVCares sustainability events:
- Nov. 10: Illinois Hurricane Sandy Relief Run—Coordinated by Director Matthew Johnson and Executive Associate Bob Chirempes
- Nov. 10: GenVCares: Rebuilding Staten Island—Coordinated by Partner Vin LaMantia, Senior Director Sabrina Allard and Senior Director Alison Bradford
- Nov. 17: Delaware, DC and Maryland Hurricane Sandy Relief Drive—Coordinated by Senior Director Alison Bradford, Senior Director Kirby Spencer, Director Joan Magill, Lillian Blanchard and Associate Gregory White
- Nov. 17-18: Sea Bright Cleanup 1—Coordinated by Senior Director Doug Borden and Director Sue Spakowski
- Nov. 24-25: Sea Bright Cleanup 2—Coordinated by Senior Director Doug Borden and Director Sue Spakowski
- Nov. 28: Massachusetts Hurricane Sandy relief drive—Coordinated by Director Jim Hennigan
- Dec. 1: GenVCares: Ortley Beach Hurricane Sandy Relief Project—Coordinated by Director Deana Dragonetti
But we are not done.
The social media and customer enrollment campaign might be over, but our “GenVCares: Hurricane Sandy Relief Campaign” is not over. We have a long-term commitment to helping those affected by Hurricane Sandy, so keep visiting our blog for ways to stay involved.
We are proud to be Generation V.
Alison Bradford Reflects on Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts
No one knew the devastation Hurricane Sandy would create that infamous weekend in October. Our group was scheduled to leave for Brazil, as part of our 7 Continents 7 Years initiative, a few days after Sandy made direct impact on the New Jersey and New York shoreline. The aftermath of this storm left thousands of people without power, running water, heat and, in countless cases, homeless.
Though our global and local sustainability initiative efforts are so important and especially significant in Brazil, the corporate executive team made the right decision to postpone our trip earlier this month so that Viridian Associates could concentrate their efforts on local clean up campaigns and support for those affected by the storm. And that we did.
A portion of the group that would have been in Brazil decided to get together with other Viridian Associates and head to Staten Island to help a family who had experienced severe flooding in the basement and first floor of their home. Upon approaching Staten Island, one could quickly see and feel the magnitude of loss and devastation Sandy had left in her wake. To see homes twisted and turned on their side, cars wedged in between poles in the marsh, pictures and memories on the sidewalk and military patrolling was overwhelming and sobering how one day life can be so "normal" and the next day lives were literally turned upside down.
It was like a bad dream that turned into reality.
On Nov. 10, our group of men and woman, our Generation V group, rallied together
to help those in need on that Saturday in Staten Island. We went through people’s homes, trying to salvage any keepsakes and precious items that we could. We cleaned up what we could in the homes, and tried to bring some peace to those suffering.
For me, to be a part of helping a family I did not know with fellow Viridianites whom I call friends and family was so satisfying and rewarding. To be a part of a team on a mission to help those in need, who ask for nothing in return is truly the best gift anyone could ask for in life. There are so many moments that stand out in my head, but seeing a woman with two children in tow, who had lost everything offer to feed the volunteers peanut butter and jelly sandwiches completely overwhelmed me. What I saw this day was hope.
In addition to the volunteer days I’ve been part of, our Sandy Relief campaign was a huge success at the Mid-Atlantic Launch on Saturday, November 17th. Associates from Maryland, DC and DE worked together to fill an entire U Haul full of donated items. These items were then driven up to the Toms River community where Associates worked together to distribute the goods to families significantly impacted by the storm.
As the relief efforts continue for many more weeks and months, I encourage all Associates to participate in the relief efforts either by donating supplies, food, clothing or their time helping families who desperately need our help and support. It’s a truly gratifying experience to be involved.
If you do donate your time, it is highly recommended to wear an air respirator when assisting in inside demo work.
I am honored, humbled and proud to be Generation V.
Toms River Ortley Beach Hurricane Relief Project
Last weekend, volunteers convened for the second weekend in a row in Rumson, New Jersey, to help with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts and this weekend the GenVCares campaign continues yet again.
Please join us for a corporate-sponsored GenVCares volunteer day this Saturday in Toms River, New Jersey.
: Saturday, Dec. 1 from 9 am to 1 pm
: 837 Astoria Drive, Toms River, NJ 08753
We will carpool and caravan from Astoria Drive with the chief of police, who will escort us over the bridge into Ortley Beach. Once at the beach, volunteers will be asked to work various demolition and cleaning projects.
Please meet between 8:30 and 9 am at 837 Astoria Drive. Lunch and t-shirts will be provided to volunteers. All are welcome!
To RSVP and for more information, call Viridian Associate Deana Dragonetti at 732-278-4901 or email at email@example.com.
Please note that access to the island is prohibited without authorization. Please let us know if you will be attending so we can add you and your friends to the list.
Sea Bright Success
Last weekend, Associates Doug Borden and Sue Spakowski led a field-sponsored hurricane relief project in which they helped those individuals in Sea Bright, New Jersey, by taking part in demolition projects and sorting and organizing donations.
This weekend, volunteers are asked to convene once again on Nov. 24-25. Volunteers should meet at Borden’s home (156 Black Point Road, Rumson, NJ) between 8:30 and 9:15 AM on both Saturday and Sunday to carpool and caravan to Sea Bright where smaller teams will be assigned to various projects. To RSVP and for more information, call Spakowski at 732-239-0590 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below, Spakowski recalls the success of last weekend’s event.
Last Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 17-18, Doug Borden from Rumson, New Jersey, organized a clean-up effort for Sea Bright, New Jersey. I had the wonderful opportunity to be on hand to help coordinate the volunteer efforts.
Sea Bright is one-mile from both of our homes and holds many childhood memories for us. Between the two days, there was a turnout of 49 Viridian Associates as well as some of our friends and family. There were eight kids ranging in ages from eight to 18 and that was one of our highlights. They were incredibly hardworking and willing to pitch in anywhere we asked them to—even the really dirty jobs! One of our youngest in the group, Paige Borden, asked Doug when this would happen again because she had friends who wanted to be part of the next one.
With this hardworking group, we helped 17 homes and businesses in the town. The magnitude of work done in those two days was enormous and the residents and business owners couldn't stop thanking the volunteers. It gave them a ray of hope that things were going to be rebuilt. One comment overheard in the town about our Associate volunteers was that they are such a positive, happy group. Their force in the small town was definitely felt and was being talked about.
The first resident that was on our list to help was a Viridian customer mine. The customer is always speaking about the impact Viridian has on the environment and of her positive experience from being a customer. Her condo was on the first floor of a two-story building and had to be gutted and cleared out. The water had come up about four feet. Also, her entire complex needed debris moved from the rear of the building to the front so that was done in addition.
A few neighbors also had help from us inside their units. They saw our Viridian volunteer shirts and asked us if they could have help as well.
Another home that had to be gutted down to the studs belonged to a woman and her brother who live in the home that has been in the family since 1897. On both days, teams went there and did everything from packing up things she wanted to save to washing those items. When everything was clear, the team started demolishing the interior down to the studs. During this process it became clear that many owners just couldn't part with everything and it was sad to see them struggle to find something they could save.
So many people needed help so it was easy for us to find more work just by walking through the town. Two businesses were found that way. One was a liquor store. We collected massive amounts of garbage to be taken to the curb and wiped down the entire store of bottles. We had a group of volunteers spend a good portion of the day there.
And there is was a little cafe that is a breakfast/lunch place. The owner had been there for 15 years and was alone with two other women when we saw her. When asked if she needed help, she said they had heavy objects that they couldn't lift. A group of five of us lent a hand and soon that group turned to 12. There were freezers and refrigerators that were all knocked down on top of each other that our big strong men were able to lift and get out of the way and empty. They were filled with three-week-old spoiled food! Once they were out of the way and emptied, we cleaned the entire place out. A good way to describe it is by the quote "many hands make light work."
Doug and I are so grateful for the hard work and care that our fellow Viridian Associates shared. Thank you does not even cut it. Being a part of Generation V goes far beyond what either of us could have ever imagined.
Reflecting on the Hurricane Sandy Relief Run
Illinois Director Matt Johnson recounts the success of last weekend’s Hurricane Sandy Relief Run—an effort in which four Illinois Associates trekked to New York to deliver necessary items following the storm.
1 pm, Friday, Nov. 9:
Our caravan consisting of two large box trucks, a heavy duty pickup truck and an Expedition gathered in Chicago. Each vehicle pulled a 1-foot trailer loaded with relief supplies bound for the East Coast and the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy. Donations from the Chicago area—including clothing, cleaning supplies, tools, pet supplies and every other necessity—filled the vehicles from top to bottom and front to back. A Facebook page titled “Hurricane Sandy Relief Run” was created to get the word out and collect donations. Our first stop on the way to Staten Island was Clearfield, Pennsylvania—528 miles along Rt 80. We arrived at 1am and tried to sleep amid nervous anticipation of the day ahead.
6 am, Saturday, Nov. 10:
We gathered in the lobby for a quick bite to eat and to gather our thoughts. Estimated arrival time on Staten Island was 12:30-1pm. We stopped and filled up with gas 40 miles outside of town. The attendant asked where we were from and then allowed us to fill up. Vincent LaMantia and many Viridian Associates were already busy working on Staten Island and awaiting our arrival.
We were greeted with cheers as our caravan arrived. We quickly formed a plan to disperse the items where they were needed most. The decision was to bring cleaning supplies and tools to Staten Island and clothing and food to Toms River and Rockaway. I remained on Staten Island and delivered needed supplies to a tent city established at Miller Park. The 17-foot truck with a trailer went to Belmar and the 26-foot truck with a trailer headed to Rockaway.
It quickly became evident that we were going to need help from others to find the areas in greatest need. Twitter played a critical role in connecting us with local residents and in helping us figure out where to bring the items. By Saturday night we had unloaded at a VFW hall near Rockaway, Belmar and Staten Island. Though we were exhausted, we were greeted by other Viridian Associates and welcomed into their homes for a hot shower and dinner.
8 am, Sunday, Nov.11:
As word continued to spread through social media about our trip, other Viridian Associates shared information and the needs of families they knew personally. All that was left to do was to drop off 2,000 pounds of pet supplies to an animal shelter group in Redbank and winter clothing supplies to a Salvation Army, also locatedthere. A large amount of infant clothing and other supplies bound for Toms River were delivered by Viridian Associates later. We left one truck and two trailers with a relief group in Redbank so they could further their efforts and continue the goodwill mission in our absence. By 1 pm our loads were delivered and we began the long drive home.
I am overcome with belief in our ability as Generation V to come together as one when necessary and make our world a better place. Together we can move mountains.
Corporate Update 11/15/12
We had an incredible turnout at the “GenVCares: Rebuilding Staten Island”
event last weekend. Viridian volunteers came together from Connecticut, New York and New Jersey to help remove debris and assist homeowners with demolition projects.
“It was an incredibly moving experience to be apart of,” said Senior Director and Chair of the Associate Sustainability Council Sabrina Allard. “If our customers and Associates ever failed to understand and comprehend what the core of Viridian is all about, it has been fully demonstrated over this past week by the actions of the Associates in the field and the collaborative efforts by corporate. It was our second pillar of sustainability, local change in action.”
This weekend, we invite you to participate in a field-sponsored relief project. Please join Senior Director Doug Borden this Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 17 and 18, in his tireless effort to help those individuals in Sea Bright, New Jersey, who have been deeply impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
Borden is seeking as many as 50 volunteers to assist with either:
- Small demolition projects with some heavy lifting in residential homes. The work includes removing water damaged insulation and sheetrock and other materials. Please wear work boots, masks, gloves and protective eyewear.
- Sorting and organizing donations such as sheets and towels, cleaning supplies and food, among other items, at a local donation center.
Donations are also welcome. Supplies needed include: Clorox, masks, paper towels, toiletries (including toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, mouthwash, shampoo),toilet paper, sponges and men’s boots.
Volunteers should meet at Borden’s home (156 Black Point Road, Rumson, NJ) at 9 am on both Saturday and Sunday to carpool and caravan to Sea Bright where smaller teams will assigned to various projects. Volunteers arriving later in the day should contact Sue Spakowski who will be coordinating all volunteers.
To RSVP and for more information, call Viridian Associate Sue Spakowski at 732-239-0590 or email her at email@example.com
Understanding that many of the challenges our Associates and communities are facing will persist for months, we are looking into long-term in relief efforts. We have been so impressed by the stories of our Associates who are individually spearheading a number of initiatives; there are so many remarkable members of Generation V. Please continue to share these stories with us as they truly exemplify the community and culture you experience when you become part of Viridian.
Corporate Update 11/9/12
We have been truly touched by how so many of you have come forward to help your fellow Associates following Hurricane Sandy. Over the next few weeks, we know that many other great stories will be created.
This weekend we invite you to join us for “GenVCares: Rebuilding Staten Island,” a corporate-sponsored sustainability event in conjunction with the larger “Rebuild Staten Island Mega Cleanup
” effort. Viridian Associates are invited to join corporate team members—including SVP of Viridian Network Meredith Berkich—to remove rubbish, demolish and clean up various Staten Island homes affected by the hurricane.
When: Saturday, Nov. 10, from 9 am to 4 pm
Where: 780 Olympia Blvd., Staten Island, New York
To RSVP and for more information: Email Alison Bradford at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Surgical masks should be available on site. Please bring the following supplies if you have them:
- Contractor/demo bags – imperative
- Work gloves or latex gloves – highly recommended
- Boots – highly recommended
- Goggles – highly recommended
- Hammers, crowbar/prybar, utility knife, screwdrivers – highly recommended if you plan on doing demo work.
- Brooms, shovels
- Flashlight, radio, duck tape, Sawzall blades – optional
- Wire cutters – optional but may be useful
- Chainsaws, generators, cordless drills, cordless saws – optional
Some important reminders:
- Carpool if possible
- T-shirts will be available to Viridian volunteers on a first-come first-serve basis
- Refreshments will be provided
- Please bring your own water bottles
- We look forward to seeing your photos. Share them on Viridian’s Facebook account and email them to email@example.com
Another great story is being made this weekend as four Illinois Associates—Director Matt Johnson, Senior Associate Brian Andrucci, Executive Associate Bob Chirempis, and Executive Associate Mike Schmidt—left Chicago at noon Friday, Nov. 9, to head to Staten Island, New York, with four large trucks in tow to deliver needed items.
The 26-foot U-Hauls are packed full with winter clothes, non-perishable food items, toiletries, and 3,500 pounds of dog/cat food. After the 14-hour drive, the Illinois Associates will meet with other Associates in Staten Island to unload the trucks and decide which items should go where. The items will then be driven to two drop-off locations: Rockaway, New York, and Tom’s River, New Jersey.
Stay plugged-in to the Viridian corporate Facebook and Twitter accounts on Saturday, Nov. 10, as we unload the trucks and bring needed help to our Associates.
Message from Corporate:
When Hurricane Sandy roared through our region last week, it left heartbreak and destruction in its wake. We sincerely hope you and your loved ones made it safely through those terrifying days. Even if you were not directly affected by the storm, it was a disaster that shook us all.
It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of such catastrophe, but that’s not what Generation V is all about. We know that life is about individual choice—choosing to make a difference—and the collective impact we have when we all work together.
That’s why, in support of all the people and communities affected by Hurricane Sandy, Viridian is launching a campaign called GenVCares, which will donate up to $10,000 to the American Red Cross and local relief efforts. There are three ways for you to contribute to our cause:
- For every new customer who enrolls in your business between Nov.
8 and Nov. 30 Viridian will donate $1 to the American Red Cross.
- For every share and comment on our GenVCares Facebook posts,
Viridian will donate $1 to the American Red Cross.
- For every retweet on our GenVCares Twitter posts, Viridian
will donate $1 to the American Red Cross.
While monetary donations are critical at this time, we also
understand how important hands on help is for the areas devastated by the hurricane,
particularly in New Jersey which is home to so many of our Viridian shining
stars. Corporate is busily working to put together a sustainability event in
the coming days. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
with any ideas for cleanups or to share the wonderful work you are doing.
We’re all in this together and together we’ll make an
impact. To stay up-to-date with our Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, be sure to
check out our blog post which contains special messaging from our Associate Sustainability
Council. Also take a look at our GenVCares
Facebook photo album which displays the heart and good will of our Viridian
We are proud to be Generation V.
Message from the Associate Sustainability Council:
The Associate Sustainability Council has brought you this
short blog on some simple ways to empower each other to turn our passion into
action and how to be the most helpful during this overwhelming time. Our hearts
and positive energy goes out to all those feeling the impacts of Hurricane
Sandy, and we thank all of you for directly helping our Viridian family. We
understand that these efforts will be on going for the months to come as
families and communities continue to restore power and rebuild their lives. Continue to be on the lookout for updates and
other tips on how to be of service as they arise.
Three calls to action we can all contribute to:
1. Be a Lifesaver:
Financial donations help the American Red
Cross provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to those
affected by Hurricane Sandy. The American Red Cross has provided more than
23,000 overnight shelter stays in the last week for those suffering from
widespread power outages, wind damage and significant flooding. Donate what you
can to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief by texting the word REDCROSS to
90999 or you can call 800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Blood donations are also
of importance. To donate blood, visit the Red
2. Act Local: Take action and join forces with your local
community organizations. Local police departments, religious organizations,
non-profits and community Facebook pages are taking the lead in organizing
relief efforts such as collecting food, clothing, blankets and more and
delivering to those in need. Work alongside these organizations to find safe
and reliable ways to volunteer your time or property items. Be on the lookout for future Viridian
communications on local relief and clean up events in your local area.
3. Be Empowered: Take action by emailing email@example.com
to give any ongoing tips or suggestions on how to get involved. We know that you in the field who have been
affected have your pulse on many of the relief and clean up efforts to come. We
want to hear about these and promote them to our Viridian community of leaders
who can help you take massive action to rebuild!
*By Associate Sustainability Council member Maurice Frumkin, Executive Associate
Ever wonder if there are any simple things you can do to enjoy the holidays as much as you always do—while using less energy and helping the planet? After polling several Viridian Associates and scouring the Web for the easiest and most effective tips, we came up with our Top 10 list.
Gen V’s Top 10 Sustainable Thanksgiving Tips:
1. Use fresh vegetables instead of canned. Did you know that commercial canning of vegetables uses three billion kWh of energy per year—enough to run 8,571,428 refrigerators for an entire year!
2. Paper plates and napkins sound like a good thing when you’ve been cooking all day, but the environmental impact is huge. The average American uses 2,200 two-ply paper napkins per year which adds up to 662 billion napkins being added to the landfill on an annual basis. If you must use disposables, use napkins made from unbleached recycled paper.
3. If you’re cooking for a lot of people, buy in bulk. Look for ways to minimize food packaging. Don’t go overboard, since it’s not likely that anyone is going to go hungry. And bring those reusable bags when you go shopping.
4. Use your local farmers' market
for organic, locally-sourced produce.
5. When decorating, use items from your yard instead of plastic. Gather some oak leaves and acorns to arrange on the table. Clip some branches and put them in a vase. Use squashes or gourds as centerpieces.
6. Use non-toxic cleaners
without chemicals. Mix up some baking soda and water to scrub the sink or tub. Try vinegar and newspaper to clean windows.
7. Travel wisely. Before you leave, make sure you turn off the lights and turn down the heat. If you’re driving, make sure your tires are inflated and drive a little slower for better gas mileage. Carpooling always helps, as well. And why not offset your travel! Offsetting is currently one of the only ways to make flying greener. Search the Web for a large number of carbon-offsetting websites for more information.
8. You'll probably have lots of leftovers. Every year, Americans use enough plastic wrap to cover the entire state of Texas. Ask your guests to bring their own to-go containers instead of sending each of them home with leftovers on paper plates and covered in plastic wrap.
9. Cleanup. The dishwasher is usually more efficient than washing dishes by hand, but make sure you pack it full. Composting kitchen scraps can have a big impact. Twenty-four percent of the waste Americans send to landfills is organic waste. Keeping that waste out of landfills doesn't just save space, it also reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
10. Finally, find a way to give back. Share leftovers with a neighborhood friend, or donate to your local food pantry.