Grassroots Efforts Make an Impact on Earth Day
The first Earth Day was held in 1970 and has grown exponentially in size and significance. Today, it is widely recognized as a time for individuals, businesses, organizations, and governments to unite in a grassroots movement to encourage environmental conservation. Freddie Mac appreciates the impact that grassroots initiatives like these can have because our company's current green initiatives were born out of a grassroots movement by our employees.
In the early 1990s, a small group of employees got together and began identifying areas where we could reduce our carbon footprint and make a positive impact on the environment. At the time, the focus was on basic initiatives such as recycling paper and printer toner.
Over the years, employee participation grew, and we formalized an internal "green campus" group to meet regularly and discuss green initiatives. Today, employee-driven initiatives are embraced company-wide and are focused in three main areas: recycling, conservation, and reuse.
We currently recycle 48 percent of our total generated waste, which includes paper, cardboard, single-stream items (e.g., bottles, cans, plastic), construction material (e.g., metals, carpet), yard waste, batteries, grease, oil, toner, and light bulbs. Over the past six years, we have recycled more than 4,900 tons of material.
Through a variety of initiatives, Freddie Mac has reduced its energy consumption by 26 percent since 2007. For example, we have saved $893,000 in electric charges alone by reducing our carbon footprint. We are also proud that three of our four main campus buildings in Virginia have received the prestigious Energy Star designation from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Our staff collects a number of items that can either be reused or donated. Examples include:
- Over 900 cell phones have been donated to local domestic violence organizations since 2010
- More than 800 cardboard boxes have been donated to a local food bank so far this year
- Nearly 700 pairs of eyeglasses have been donated to the Lions Club for their Lions Recycle for Sight program since 2010
- Over 470 pieces of furniture, 28 boxes of office supplies, and 9,500 binders have been donated in the past three years
We also have an Office Supply Collection and Reuse Program to help employees manage supply needs, effectively use budget dollars, and keep the campus clean and green.
Earth Day 2012
Beyond these ongoing sustainable practices and initiatives, the Freddie Mac staff observed Earth Day last week by participating in the following:
Earth Day Fair – Employees gathered on Tuesday, April 17, for a company Earth Day Fair to learn what they can do to help the environment and to meet the vendors who help keep Freddie green.
E-Waste to Work Days – On April 17-19, staff members participated in personal e-waste recycling days. Employees brought in computers, monitors, and other goods, many of which contain toxic materials, so that they could be diverted from landfills, reducing environmental contamination. By coupling our E-Waste to Work Days with the recycling of corporate e-waste (e.g., obsolete equipment), we are able to provide this service to our employees at no additional cost to the corporation.
Personal Paper Shredding – On April 17-18, employees brought in personal paper to be shredded.
- Cafe "Choose" Campaign – Employees launched an internal campaign in our cafeterias to encourage their colleagues to choose ceramic plates whenever possible to minimize waste. For those who do choose take-out, containers are 100 percent compostable.
What began as a grassroots effort of a few employees has evolved into a broad company-wide commitment to develop and follow sound environmental conservation practices. There is more work to do, but our staff is up to the challenge of building on our progress with new ideas and initiatives – and continuing to do our part to make a positive impact on the environment and be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.
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