Archive for the ‘Responsibility’ Category

From Earth Day to Earth Week to Sustainable Environmental Practices

posted by Boyd Neil

By Liz Purchia is an account executive in H&K’s public affairs group in Washington D.C.

Last Tuesday was Earth Day and for many organizations, Hill & Knowlton included, it turned into Earth Week. 

Everywhere you looked from clothing stores to TV stations to global corporations, people were championing the environment, offering environmental tips and discounts on eco-friendly products. In our Washington, D.C. office Hill & Knowlton handed out free reusable water bottles and tote bags to every employee to cut back on the amount of waste we produce.

I found myself logging on to various Web sites, signing up for petitions and learning tools that I can use to curb my environmentally harmful habits.

Sustaining Environmental Energy

I work on a lot of energy and environmental issues for clients in D.C. and what I’m wondering is now that Earth Day is over, what’s going to happen? Has everyone done their part for the year?

Recently, President Bush outlined the administration’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.  As Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee said, “We can’t wait until 2025 to deal with greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). That is too late, that is dangerously late, that is doing nothing.

The Warner-Lieberman bill, scheduled for debate in the Senate calls for halting growth in GHG emissions starting in 2012, 13 years earlier than the president proposes.

All three presidential candidates, Sens. McCain (R-AZ), Clinton (D-NY), and Obama (D-IL) support mandatory limits on GHG and are advocating a much more aggressive climate change platform. But with the election year, there’s very little chance that much will get done in terms of environmental policy.

Everyone’s looking to see what others are doing to support the environment and to reduce their environmental impacts. Before hiring us, some potential clients are even looking to see what Hill & Knowlton is doing as a company to address climate change.

Environmental Sustainability as Business Opportunity

In February, I was on a Hill & Knowlton exchange program in Brussels where we were the exclusive PR partner for the European Business Summit. The focus of this year’s event was “Greening the Economy,” underlining that the environment can become a business opportunity.

The U.S. can take a few notes from European businesses, which have incorporated environmental plans into their business models for many years. We can support our economy through green practices. What’s good for the environment can and should be good for business.

I recently read a New York Times article, “Millions of Jobs of a Different Collar” in which Jerome Ringo, president of the Apollo Alliance predicted that the U.S. could generate between three million to five million more green jobs over the next 10 years. Van Jones of Green for All is quoted in the article as saying that green jobs “cannot be easily outsourced…If we are going to weatherize buildings, they have to be weatherized here…If you put up solar panels, you can’t ship a building to Asia and have them put the solar panels on and ship it back. These jobs have to be done in the United States.”

As clients come to us to help shape their business and communications plans, inserting environmental practices will be beneficial to their business, their potential business and employees.

The market needs companies to adopt environmental practices. It may just be monitoring data center usage, improving energy efficient technologies or turning off the lights on weekends, but making a commitment to the environment means making a commitment to sound sustainable business practices.

Being Responsible Starts With You

posted by Boyd Neil

(By Lauren Cozzi, a senior account executive in Hill & Knowlton’s Washington, D.C. office)

Working for Hill & Knowlton, I’m fortunate to have a firsthand view of what many leading companies and organizations are doing in the area of environmental responsibility. And while so many corporations and institutions are ‘going green’ and discussing sustainability these days, it’s important to note that responsibility begins with individuals. There is much talk about what we should be doing, but taking action is what makes the difference. By taking a few simple steps and making some slight changes to our daily routines, it can be easy to reduce our environmental impact.

Small things, like turning off the water when brushing our teeth and taking shorter showers, can help conserve water. At home and at the office, recycling, rather than throwing away recyclable items, is another way each of us can minimize input into landfills.  It’s also pretty simple to add a separate container, reserved for paper that can be recycled, next to regular trash bins.

Lately, there has been discussion surrounding plastic water bottles because of the overwhelming increase in our use of them. Using water filters at home and in the office can counteract this. If the use of water bottles cannot be avoided, steps to recycle should be taken to reduce the build up.

Some good Web sites for general information about recycling can be found at:

Many companies have pledges and business plans which incorporate responsibility into the business. Especially among the IT industry, individuals have the opportunity to take advantage of what is being offered. Purchasing electronics with eco-labels, like ENERGY STAR® and EPEAT, to name only two, is a great way to buy products with confidence that you limit your environmental impact.

Many of these specially-labeled IT products are also designed to use less energy, which saves us money, while helping to protect the environment.

One of the clients I work with, HP, has developed some great energy-saving tips for individuals.

Taking responsibility to do our part is the least each of us can do to preserve our environment. As a public relations professional who works on environmental responsibility issues each day, I’m sensitive to practice what I preach, but the same tips can be helpful regardless of what anyone does. We should each take advantage of the great information resources available to us, which offer ways to minimize our environmental impact. By taking responsibility for our own actions, we can help make a difference for the better in the near future, and for generations to come.