Ricoh Global Eco Action is an annual event held on the UN's World Environment Day to raise the environmental awareness of Ricoh Group employees. On this day, the lights at Ricoh facilities and neon signs around the world are turned off, employees leave the office on time, and participating offices, departments, and individuals also take various actions of their choice. To promote greater participation, the Corporate Environment Division invited Group employees around the globe to join the program via a range of media that included posters in different languages, PC wallpapers, emails, and in-house broadcasting messages. "Initially, participants were required to pre-register and send participation reports using the Intranet so that the amount of CO2 emissions saved by Eco Action could be evaluated. Over time, the network of participants has expanded externally to include employee families and friends, customers, neighboring corporations, and governmental organizations, which has made it difficult to calculate the total number of participants and the benefits achieved by the program," said Hiroko Hayashi, a staff member who is involved in promoting Eco Action.
"In the course of expanding the program globally, we were faced with several challenges associated with different organizations/workplaces, local characteristics, attitudes, and more. We have strived to address these challenges through trial and error, attempting new ideas each year. For instance, the event originally took place on the summer solstice, but is now on the globallyobserved UN World Environment Day. Recognizing that the policy of no overtime work and no lights after hours is effective in Japan where people tend to work long hours, but may not be so in a country or office where the staff usually leave the office relatively early, now specific local activities are designed and determined locally to be effective in each office. We have also extended the program duration in response to the increasing number of participating offices implementing the Eco Action program for a certain period, rather than as a one-day event," said Hayashi. As a result, eco actions that fit national and local characteristics and situations are here to stay, and good practices in one location have become embedded in other locations almost contagiously. Satoko Fushimi, who joined the promotion team in fiscal 2008, agrees on the significance of the global implementation of the program based on her first-hand observations. "Our firm in the Netherlands named the campaign to encourage commuting without cars as 'Give Your Car a Break,' which would have been dubbed 'No Commuting by Car' or something similar in Japan. Viewing eco actions from a positive angle, rather than perceiving them as constraints or something to bear, will help the activities continue to move forward and take root. Changing into such a positive mindset would not have happened effectively if the program had been implemented only within Japan. The purpose of environmental awareness building is to develop positive attitudes toward green actions," said Fushimi. Now is the time for people around the world to change their mindset toward the global environment and create a sustainable society. We at the Ricoh Group believe that the Eco Action network will become part of the solution for this.
A wide range of activities, including cleaning up local communities, turning off the lights on advertising towers and billboards, limited use of elevators, and leaving the office on time, were implemented concurrently at all Ricoh sites across the country. At Ricoh IT Solutions Co., Ltd., 98% of its workforce or 994 employees left the office on time (the remaining 2% took care of operational duties). Comments from the employees include "I had the opportunity to talk about the environment with my family," and "I had not come home early for a long time. I enjoyed doing things that I had no time to do before." At Ricoh Head Office, employees were encouraged to cultivate their green attitude through, for example, a discussion on the theme of waste reduction in the office cafeteria.
Eco Action has become an established nationwide program in Singapore as a result of collaborative promotional efforts by Ricoh Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd. (regional sales headquarters), Ricoh (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. (sales subsidiary) and the Singapore Environmental Council (NGO), who invited many organizations in the country to join the initiative. In its third year, 2009, the Eco Action program had a greater number of participants than ever before: 43 organizations from the governmental, academic, business, and other communities. Actions taken included switching the lights off during predetermined hours, setting air conditioners at higher temperatures, and reducing paper use. Together, these efforts saved 7,767 kWh of power, or approx. 5 tons of CO2 equivalents.
In Europe, a growing number of highly motivated eco actions have taken place. Examples include the "Give Your Car a Break" campaign at Ricoh Europe (Netherlands) B.V., and Ricoh International B.V. with Ricoh Europe SCM B.V. encouraging employees to commute by public transport or bicycles or by car sharing. The air pressure in the tires of corporate vehicles was also checked to avoid unnecessary CO2 emissions. In addition, employees of Ricoh Hungary Kft. worked with members of the National Society of Conservationists as well as ornithologists and ornithology students of Eotvos Lorand University to repair wooden paths in the Bird Sanctuary in Ocsa, within the Duna-Ipoly National Park. The paths are necessary for bird protection. Meanwhile, Ricoh Deutschland GmbH participated in a nationwide campaign to commute by bicycle to promote environmental and human health, in which 65 Ricoh employees biked to work for 20 days or more.
Ricoh Americas Corporation, the regional sales headquarters, vigorously promoted environmentally and budget friendly activities, such as carsharing, carpools, and sharing the ride. Ricoh Canada Inc., a sales subsidiary, implemented the "Use Less Power" program jointly with several local companies to reduce electricity consumption based on advice from ergonomics specialists. Following the success of the initial implementation, the program has been rolled out in all Ricoh and IKON offices in Canada.
As part of the Eco Action program, Ricoh China Co., Ltd., the regional sales headquarters, and Changning District in Shanghai jointly held a "World Environment Day Promotion Event." Such an awareness raising event as part of the Eco Action program in China, established as a collaborative event with the local government, evolved from a program by a single corporation. At the venue in the Jinju Residence Community, many citizens of various ages reaffirmed their green commitment by chanting the phrase, "Together let us protect beautiful Changning District, Shanghai, China, and the Earth." In addition, the head office of Ricoh China kept the lights off on its advertising tower and billboards during the night of the Eco Action day and all the employees left the office on time at 5:30 p.m.