Thinking Globally, Acting Locally: Earth Week 2017

Earth Week, April 16-22, was started in the 1970s by grassroots organizers who wanted to encourage learning of environmental issues. Every year, during this time, school children learn about the diversity of ecosystems found around the world, while being taught how their actions can have a lasting impact on Mother Earth.

But after we enter the “real world”, Earth Week tends to go unnoticed and uncelebrated as people get caught up in their client work and fast approaching deadlines. However, as a self-proclaimed environmentalist, I wondered, “Can we make Earth Week relevant again by bringing issues affecting our local South Florida environment to the office’s day-to-day activities?”

That thought inspired me to consider a new approach for this year’s Earth Week and invite Burson-Marsteller Miami to get in touch with their inner school-child by taking an interest in relevant issues found south of Lake Okeechobee. As one of the organizers of the Earth Week activities, my goal was to get people out of the office and outside to interact with our main attraction: the ocean.

The Green Team, as I dubbed the Burson Miami Earth Week organizers, planned an ocean clean-up at a local Miami beach where instead of our normal Friday happy hour we went to Hobie Island Beach Park, located on Virginia Key. With the sun in our faces and sand between our toes, we set out to collect foreign items such as plastic bottles, cigarette butts, bottle caps, and other waste. About 14 people (and two four-legged assistants!) participated in the clean-up, removing close to 15lbs of trash off the beach.

On Monday April 24th, following the beach clean-up, my fellow Green Team member, Nicholas Komisarjevsky, and I prepared a presentation to inform our colleagues about the ever imminent threat of Sea Level Rise in South Florida through a Lunch and Learn. We concluded our presentation by providing each team member with a reusable plastic bottle, acrylic paints, and inspiration to decorate their bottles as they see fit, in an effort to cut down on the office’s plastic water bottle waste.

The key message that I tried to impart to my peers through our Earth Week initiative was the importance of thinking globally, while acting locally. As a global Public Relations and Communications agency, Burson-Marsteller always looks to provide our clients with culturally relevant and locally focused support. We utilize our global network to share ideas, talent, and perspectives while giving our clients a boutique agency feel. We think globally, but act locally.

I think that provides a great parallel to the importance of Earth Week because it reminds us to focus on the small details in order to spur greater change. Deciding to tackle climate change alone can be a daunting task. However, choosing to use ceramic mug for your morning coffee instead of a disposable paper cup is manageable. Perhaps getting the office to stop printing documents is unrealistic, but instead of simply throwing the pages away after their singular use, considering upcycling them into a notebook is doable. Thus encouraging the office to consider how their daily actions have a larger environmental impact.

As the world continues to get smaller through enhanced communication abilities, we must think globally, but we cannot forget to act locally. Together, making more conscious efforts to do our part in lessening our carbon footprint can act as the catalyst to larger changes.

As April comes to an end, I challenge everyone to not forget about the meaning of Earth Week. The realities of global warming, sea level rise, and other environmental issues are pertinent every day, especially in South Florida. While Earth Week encourages us to focus on the importance of the environment, it is critical that we adopt sustainable habits like reducing, reusing, and recycling to lessen our carbon footprint globally. Individual contributions do make an impact. Share below with your commitment to Earth and the environment for the coming year.

#EarthWeek2017

Kelsey Flitter, Public Affairs Practice