ICYMI: The Good, Bad and Ugly on Earth Day 2013

Hello. Sigh. Happy Earth Day.

You'll forgive me if there's only so much enthusiasm I can generate for this event, the one day when people explicitly acknowledge and even celebrate the environment, and the day that loads and loads of companies explicitly attempt to capitalize on that acknowledgement and celebration.

As much as this "holiday" fills me with dread and despair -- such that we regularly need to blow off steam here on GreenBiz by skewering the worst of the bandwagoneers -- there's also only so much dismay and disdain I can generate for what are, by and large, well-intentioned if unfortunate efforts to support Earth Day.

In surveying the landscape of this year's Earth Day phenomenon, we see the same broad categories of pitches -- tree plantings galore, efforts to connect Earth Day with conspicuous consumption and some plain off-the-wall announcements. There are also a number of companies that made either significant Earth Day commitments or -- better yet in my book -- made significant commitments that were not explicity tied to Earth Day (but were pretty clearly tied to the theme of the day). So let's begin, by running through the following categories of Earth Day "news":

  • Interesting, Explicitly Earth Day Pitches
  • Unfortunate Earth Day Stories
  • Shopping-themed Earth Day Stories
  • Interesting News Coincidentally Tied to Earth Day/Week/Month
  • Other Interesting News

Interesting, Explicitly Earth Day Stories

Walmart does Earth Month Right: Walmart rolled out a ton of stuff for Earth Month, including a great number of Actual News items, such as its new commitments to increase the amount of renewable energy it uses by 600 percent by 2020, make the plastic toys it sells safer for workers as well as consumers and much more. The company also relaunched and is posting green news and tips on the Walmart Green Room every day this month, and will be releasing its annual sustainability report this week.

NASCAR continues its Race for Green: NASCAR similarly has a slew of green events this month, and is plugging them on http://green.nascar.com/. Among the interesting developments: Lots of tree planting as part of a partnership with UPS to offset the emissions of every NASCAR race in 2013, through its "Clean Air Tree Planting Program;" a new ad spot touting NASCAR Green; a new partnership with Liberty Tire Recycling to recycle 120,000 tires a year; and various promotions from team sponsors.

Telecommuting for Earth Day: The suggestion that employees should telecommute one day per year normally would make me want to lump this story in with the Unfortunates below, but I hope that a survey published last week by TeamViewer (makers of collaboration software, of course) helps convince employers to encourage more remote work. It'll take an organizational sea change for almost any company to maximize the environmental benefits of occasional or frequent telecommuting -- such as reducing office space coupled with flexible workspaces and unassigned desks just as a start -- but it's a smart direction for companies to move in.

Next page: Happy f***ing Earth Day