Recognizing the “Unsung” Environmental Heroes

Carol Singer Neuvelt

In honor of Earth Day, I’d like to take a moment to recognize and thank you, our members, for your contributions to the health and safety of our planet.

While much of the public discourse about improving the environment focuses on individual actions, few understand or know how to address the large scale impacts of corporate activities. This is essentially what environmental, health and safety (EHS) managers do by creating company-wide systems to reduce pollution, improve worker safety and, now today, move the conversation about sustainability forward.

Without your tireless work to lessen corporate environmental impacts, we would not have achieved the return of clean waterways, reclaimed land in urban centers, widespread recycling and the expectation that workers will return home each night safe and sound.

This comfort and security, largely held in the developed world, is a profound luxury we often take for granted.

To take it a step further, we don’t often get the opportunity to learn about what goes into the design, manufacture and delivery of the products that make our lives comfortable. From the ability to cook food in the warmth our well-lit homes, travel freely across the globe and share information instantly using home computers, we all rely on a host of modern industries to sustain our daily lives. But as Dr. Daniel Goleman asserted at last year’s EHS Management Forum, these modern comforts have many unseen impacts. Your work helps minimize these negative impacts, allowing the rest of us to enjoy the benefits of these products we rely on.

So today, I take my hat off you each of you, and join with the rest of the NAEM staff in saying ‘thank you’ for the work you do to protect our environment and keep workers safe on the job.

We’ve come a long way, and I’m excited to watch you address and solve the challenges that come before us.

About Carol Singer Neuvelt

Carol Singer Neuvelt is Executive Director of NAEM. Her long-term perspective and insights into corporate EHS and sustainability best practices also have been featured in a variety of publications, including The Chicago Tribune, the Bureau of National Affairs, Environmental Leader, the National Safety Council’s Safety+Health magazine and Sustainable Life Media. She is the former Deputy Director for the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Public Liaison, where she managed the agency’s interaction with external stakeholders. Follow her on Twitter at @carol_neuvelt.

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