Helping Employees Make Sustainable Choices

Intel employee & NWEI course organizer Sydney Wirsig

In honor of Earth Month, we’re excited to share this changemaker story from CSR@Intel about Sydney Wirsig, an Intel employee, Northwest Earth Institute course organizer and sustainability champion. As Intel notes, “Sydney Wirsig is one employee who has turned her passion for sustainability into action and positive impact.” Sydney engaged 450 Intel employees in NWEI’s Choices for Sustainble Living discussion course – and the results were inspiring. Below is an excert of CSR@Intel’s blog post about Sydney’s impact. To read her full story, click here. 

Sydney joined Intel in 2014 and from day one was looking for ways to get involved in sustainability efforts, “I feel we all have a responsibility to be a good global citizen and do what we can to make sustainable choices in our own lives as well as helping others do the same.” On her personal journey to live more sustainably, she realized she wanted to help and encourage others looking to do the same.

Then, an opportunity at Intel popped up in her inbox. The Corporate Responsibility team was looking for a passionate employee to develop a pilot sustainable living discussion course for employees. Sydney jumped at the opportunity and was selected to lead this effort. By working with the Northwest Earth Institute (NWEI), who creates discussion course books on sustainability topics, Sydney launched the Choices for Sustainable Living course to 200 employees. The NWEI course book covered everything from food to transportation through articles and data from a variety of sources. It gave people “food for thought” and allowed them to decide for themselves what they do with the information. The format of the course allowed for open discussions about reactions to the course content, and collective problem solving.

Sydney reflected on the course saying, “It was incredibly gratifying to hear stories from the group about the things they tried and what worked for them long term. I didn’t know if anyone would make changes to be more sustainable based on what they learned but it turned out, they did. The efforts of everyone were outstanding.” She facilitated two offerings of the course and engaged with about 450 employees in total. Even though she is no longer facilitating the course, this was just the start for Sydney’s sustainability efforts at Intel.

“I realized opportunities to lead sustainability projects were all around me. I just had to take initiative to pursue them,” Sydney recalled. That aha moment led to her next project. Wanting to expand access to local, healthy food and searching for ways to lower her own food miles, Sydney wanted to start a community garden on an Intel campus.

The resulting garden in full bloom

She recruited volunteers, planned raised-bed building days, and coordinated vendors to bring the 38 raised-bed organic garden to life. The results? In its first growing season, the garden club had over 50 employees participate, beat its food donation goal, and hosted a garden educational event for 300+ kids. Upon reflection Sydney revealed, “It was the most rewarding and challenging side project I’ve ever done but even knowing now how challenging it would be, I’d do it all over again.”

But as you may have grasped by now, Sydney always has a new sustainability idea brewing. So what’s next? “I’m interested in looking at ways to divert more waste from going to landfills. I’ve started collecting my hard-to-recycle packaging to send to organizations that can properly recycle them and I’d love to try that on a larger scale in the community,” she shared. Clearly, Sydney is a true champion of sustainability at Intel and is always looking for new ways to help employees reduce their footprint on the planet.

To read the full article, click here. To learn more about NWEI’s Choices for Sustainable Living course book, click here. Thanks to Sydney for her leadership and for her work to create positive action! 



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