There are two types of green teams – those endorsed by the leadership of your organization, and those that are bottom-up, grass roots green teams. Both have their place, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t have solid backing from leadership. Your leadership will become much more supportive when they see you recommending some very practical, money-saving improvements to operations.
How do you get people to join you in your quest? You can’t do this whole effort alone … well, you can, but you won’t have nearly as much impact nor nearly as much fun and reward. The good news is that you will be surprised at how many people might be interested in joining your effort. Your organization might have a wide range of different people you can recruit, depending on the makeup of your organization. First of all, you may find some older, liberal, “hippie” types – they are true believers and ardent advocates. (These folks are some of the original environmental advocates who started Earth Day 30 years ago and are delighted to be identified as die-hard environmentalists. They often embrace the “hippie” descriptor; however, be sensitive and be sure to read their body language as you invite them to participate.) Second, you will find millennials – brought up by school and media to believe in your cause. And then you will find the gardeners and healthy living advocates whose passions are aligned with yours. But don’t stop there! You will find people who believe in being good stewards of the environment and all they are charged with safeguarding. Then, you will find people who wish to save the organization money, conserve resources, and improve efficiency – all those values can easily align with the kind of improvements you will want to make. Finally, you will have the skeptics, who dislike the heavy-handed message of some environmental advocates and resist the whole concept of sustainability, but who can be persuaded with appeals to their values – more on that later.
Look at the different ways you have to reach people in your organization who might join your effort. Does your organization have a large group or small group meetings? Do people gather in break rooms? Will you have to go from person to person to talk to folks about your idea? Is the leadership of your organization eager for you to start? Whether they are or not, do not be deterred. With some of the great ideas you will be developing over the next few weeks, you should be able to bring them over to your side! If, however, they are already interested in your becoming a greener organization, that is a great head start!
Always look for some informal leaders who can help you recruit others. The ideal sized team is between four and seven members, but don’t worry if you have a smaller or larger team. Always welcome everyone who wants to join you and engage them as soon as possible in an area that interests them.
Most importantly, you should work on creating a diverse team – in all respects, but especially political. This could prove a challenge because members on the political right may not want to join a group they perceive is working against their values; however, recruiting them is essential if you want a successful effort. If you do not, two things could happen: 1) your efforts could be sabotaged by people who push back on efforts they believe are contrary to their values (but are not), and 2) if your like-minded team falls into groupthink, your efforts could be more radical than are acceptable to the entire organization.
For more information on green teams, see