April 23rd, 2008

Getting It

By Tish Lascelle, Senior Director, Environment, Health and Safety, Strategy and Assurance, Johnson & Johnson


For those who make environmental protection a living, Earth Day is a no-brainer. We “get it” and on Earth Day, we go beyond our normal efforts to help others “get it” too. I’ve been doing Earth Day events at Johnson & Johnson for seven years but this time, it felt like we have finally reached a tipping point.

This year, my colleagues and I have been trying raise awareness across Johnson & Johnson about sustainable forestry, our Healthy Planet 2010 goals for office paper and paper packaging, and our Forest Products Purchasing Guidelines. As part of this, we thought it would be fun to capture our coworkers on camera telling us about their experiences in forests and why they think they should be protected.

I enlisted Rob, from our corporate TV department, to run the camera. Being a professional at this sort of thing, he asked me several times, “who will be interviewing them?” Huh? Do I really need someone to interview them??!!? My idea was to just give them the microphone and ask them to talk from the heart about forests. I could tell Rob had to humor me on that one, but not for too long. More than 80 people went on tape and wow – were we surprised at the richness of their stories.

We heard two bear stories, a tree-falling-in-the-woods story (between two campsites no less) and a my-kids-remember-our-camping-trip-more-than-our-Disney-trip story. Being a health care company, it wasn’t surprising that lots of people recognize how many pharmaceuticals are derived from forests and how that’s important for Johnson & Johnson. (Interesting that the WSJ Health Blog had something on the importance of biodiversity to human health earlier today…). We also heard a lot about the role forests have in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Earth Day has come a long way. We still give away small spruce tree seedlings, but this year our employees also proudly walked away with recycled-content toilet paper. Oh, yes, they laughed and joked about ‘previously used toilet paper,’ but we didn’t have one roll left at the end of the day.

I’m proud that so many people are ‘getting it’…. They are taking what they know home and they are applying it at work. So after today, perhaps I need to revise my approach – maybe I no longer need to chase people to help them get “it” – but just let them come to me and my environmental colleagues with their innovative ideas…

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