What Bob the Builder® Can Teach Us About Helping the Environment
If you have children, or know someone who does, you’ve probably watched children’s shows that have left an indelible mark—most notably a certain purple dinosaur with an unforgettable theme song. So, a few months ago when my almost 3 year old donned a bright yellow construction hat and requested to watch Bob the Builder®, I thought I was in for another children’s show I would tolerate for his sake. However, I soon realized Bob and his friends can actually teach our children valuable lifelong lessons. And what has surprised me most is how applicable many of those lessons are to us as adults, and to my role in particular as environmental philanthropy advisor at FedEx, promoting EarthSmart Outreach initiatives with our volunteers.
Bob reminds me of the FedEx team members that inspire me every day with their positive, can-do attitudes. This collaborative spirit is the very heart of our people-first philosophy and it is how, like Bob and his friends, “we work together to get the job done.” Bob shows that consistent small steps help us to achieve large goals, whether losing weight, building a learning garden, or updating a fleet to be more fuel efficient.
One of the show’s segments, Bob’s Jobs, has a recurring theme of Reduce. Reuse. Recycle., which are many of the same principles you can find in EarthSmart, the FedEx roadmap for environmental sustainability. On Bob’s Jobs, children can learn how to build a recycling center and wind farm, install a rock garden in their yard, build a rain catcher for storm water runoff, or put in a backyard composting bin. And like the EarthSmart at Work initiative, you don’t have to have sustainability in your job title to make an impact. Take, for instance, Matt Hawks, the dayside manager of hub operations at the Memphis World Hub. He wanted to start recycling plastic bottles and aluminum cans in the Hub Café, and as a result, has diverted about 5,000 lbs. of plastic and aluminum from landfills, reducing waste-removal costs and generating revenue.
This week, FedEx and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) kick off urban conservation projects in 14 major U.S. cities. This is the fourth year that FedEx team members are addressing pressing urban environmental challenges and making their own communities healthier and cleaner places to live and work. FedEx volunteers will take on a variety of conservation and restoration activities, from planting trees in Indianapolis and removing invasive species in Memphis to restoring eroded tributaries in Philadelphia and using canoes to remove invasive water chestnuts along Boston’s Mystic River.
This year, the EarthSmart Outreach program with NFWF coincides with FedEx’s Global Month of Service, commemorating our 40th anniversary. Team members will volunteer in their communities, underscoring not only the company’s long-standing tradition of service, but also the importance of teamwork in getting the job done. Though EarthSmart Outreach projects are great opportunities for FedEx team members to participate in conservation and restoration initiatives while having fun, we also hope they will inspire others in the community to take action. This year, we will chronicle our volunteers’ work on one project and break it down into a step-by-step guide people can implement in their own communities. This project, building an outdoor learning garden at an elementary school, will take place on April 27, 2013, in Dallas with an organization called REAL School Gardens. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for additional blogs on this exciting project.
I realize not everyone who participates in EarthSmart will become an environmentalist, but I think we can all take a little bit of Bob’s optimism and can-do approach back to our every day jobs and communities. Just as Bob and his team of machines begin every job with an exuberant, “Can we fix it? Yes, we can!”, I’d like to think EarthSmart Outreach has the ability to inspire FedEx team members to put on their purple tees, get out into the community, and rally with the cry, “Can we improve it? Yes, we can!”