"Earth Day has to be every day." Very rarely am I stopped in my tracks while interviewing someone, but the truth of the statement speaks for itself. In lieu of Earth Day, I had the opportunity to speak with David Conrad, Nokia North America's Senior Manager of Environmental Affairs, and came away very impressed with the company's efforts to promote environmental solutions. In our discussion, my primary questions centered around the efficiency of such a program. What are the company's current environmental programs? What about the people that view the concept as redundant? How does the company approach the challenge of educating people?
According to Nokia, three percent of people recycle globally, with lack of awareness as the primary obstacle. If everyone in the United States recycled one wireless phone, we could save enough energy to power 18,500 homes for one year; furthermore, the act of recycling alone reduces air and water pollution. In a sign that the company is at the forefront of conservation efforts, Nokia recently launched the Green Explorer program, designed to target travelers and offer solutions for environmentally sustainable travel. Available via internet and mobile phone, one can find tips and tricks on eco-friendly travel. "Nokia's approach is grassroots in nature; it's the best way to grow," Conrad said when I asked about their advertising strategy. "We're starting from the ground up, because eco-friendly solutions are here to stay."
The company is also working as hard as possible to influence those that seem unconcerned with the environment, or subscribe to the "I'm just one person" argument. The road to environmental cleanliness is a gradual movement, and one size does not fit all. "Nokia engages in lifestyle integration, from beginning to recycling end," Conrad said. "We're trying to influence some portion of that population, and a question for us has always been 'how can we include as many as possible?' We can all make massive environmental changes without a lot of effort."
Though the Green Explorer program could be considered as the forward-facing aspect of their efforts, it is far from the only initiative that Nokia is pursuing. The company is working on a number of projects to encourage environmental programs in North America, including educating children, offering a phone recycling program with 5,000 locations in 85 countries, and teaching about "eCycling." Besides energy, Nokia continues to be as efficient as possible on the packaging front. Box sizes have been halved, and in the last 250 million phone shipments, 5,000 fewer tractor trailers were used, materials were reduced by 50 percent, and 100 million Euros were saved as a result. "The pressure is on, and we have to lead by example," he said. "Soon, the biggest gift under the Christmas tree may not be the best thing."
Users can access Nokia's Green Explorer program by going to their website, or by text messaging 'OCEAN' to 334455. Twitter users can also see yesterday's live interview tweets at www.twitter.com/PhoneDog_Aaron.