Len SauersLen SauersProcter & GambleDoes Earth Day still matter? Sure, it does — absolutely.

But the reason for the day should have evolved for all of us. Instead of simply planting a new seedling and moving on, we should be looking at Earth Day in a new light.

Earth Day should no longer be a jump-start to action, activism, and awakening. We all need to be far beyond that.

Instead, Earth Day should now be about:

  • celebrating with our employees, communities, and leading companies what we’ve done through the course of the year and what we plan for the future;
  • thanking those who are helping us down the road to reducing footprints and increasing smart energy alternatives;
  • serving as a inspiration to build still more connections for best practices and innovation;
  • encouraging everyone to keep raising the bar higher.

Earth Day started as a way to recognize that the Earth needs help. We should all get that. Now, what are we doing to intervene — and how we can help each other do more?

From a corporate perspective, we are faced with many opportunities to make a tremendous difference. But I would challenge that today’s mission of “going green” is not a bandwagon, it’s a journey. And the deliverables need to not only be real, but long-lasting and sustainable in and of themselves.

I also would challenge that if done strategically, all the “green” stuff we do throughout the rest of the year should be good not just for the environment, but also for business and partnerships. And that right here, at this intersection — where environmental issues and business needs meet — is where green can establish real roots and begin to grow. Here is where it becomes more than a day, but a way of doing business — every day.

At P&G, we made a commitment several years ago to integrate sustainability into every part of our business. All new facilities are built from a sustainability blueprint, ensuring that we are maximizing the natural environment and minimizing our footprint. We’re designing production lines that recycle once-escaping energy. We’re re-engineering packages on many of our 300 brands to reduce packaging without any discernable change to design or to the user’s experience. We’ve also reformulated some of our products, delivering compact laundry formulas that come in smaller bottles or deliver superior cleaning in cold water.

As a result, we’re reducing our energy intake, our waste, and our costs while increasing efficiency and productivity. It’s an artful blend of environmental green and business black.

We’re learning that it’s important to not only make a difference now, but to also ensure we remain a strong player tomorrow. That way, we can continue to help shape the future.

To me, that’s what Earth Day should now be about for us all. It’s not an awakening or a campaign. Short-term wins are not wins. And we can and should be helping each other. After all, we are on this journey — together.

Happy Earth Day!