In 2016, Progressive’s Social Responsibility team in California set out to provide employees with reusable alternatives to the disposable kitchenware in their Claims offices. Like many grass-roots initiatives, it started small, with a two-office test program.
“Our goal was to challenge employees to embrace some simple changes to their daily routines, and hopefully make them permanent habits. In turn, large-scale adoption of these habits can make a substantial difference to our environment,” says Claims Manager Carolyn Nogy, the program’s sponsor.
Employees eagerly adopted the change, and learned a few new things, too. For instance, some were concerned about the extra water usage—an important issue for Californians in the midst of a drought—from washing the utensils. After a little research, they found that it takes more than a half-gallon of water to produce a paper plate, but just one-fifth of a gallon to wash a reusable plate.
The program also positively affected Progressive’s carbon footprint. “We found that the amount of energy used to manufacture the quantity of disposable kitchenware our offices were using annually was enough to power 188 households for an entire year,” adds Carolyn.
So, in early 2017, this small, employee-driven program expanded to all offices in California. And word is spreading—after reading about this program on Progressive’s internal website, offices in other states now are working on implementing similar initiatives.
Experts say it takes only 21 days of changing one’s behavior before it becomes a habit. In that spirit, Progressive’s employees in California have made a lasting habit out of being environmentally friendly and socially responsible.less
That’s what happened for Chad Prince. As a newer member of Progressive’s fast-paced Claims organization, he noticed that quickly jotting down notes while on a phone call—and then shredding them soon after—had been the norm for many years. So, he set out to change that.
By using a small dry-erase board instead of his usual paper notepad, Chad found an effective way to reduce unnecessary waste. He got in touch with members of Progressive’s Social Responsibility Advisory Board, and soon they put together a small pilot program with three business groups in Cleveland and Colorado Springs. Employees took to their new dry-erase “notepads” so well that a larger pilot program took place.
Small changes like this help us reduce the amount of paper, pens and pencils we use in a large operation like our Claims organization.
“This program not only reduced costs associated with replenishing paper supplies and shredding/recycling services, employees involved with the pilot reported an increase in workplace engagement and a sense of overall purpose—with no losses in productivity. That’s the definition of a win-win,” says Chad.
Progressive is currently looking into expanding the program even further throughout the Claims organization.less
When exercise equipment gets updated, the old gear is often still in good working condition. So in March 2018, our Fitness Center donated more than 20 pieces of strength-training equipment, including selectorized machines and free weights, to local school systems that needed them.
And this kind of equipment “recycling” extends beyond the gym. With more and more Progressive offices transitioning to open-workspace environments, we’re left with a lot of used but perfectly functional furniture.
As an environmentally conscious company, Progressive has for the last several years donated surplus furniture and other equipment to nonprofit organizations in our local communities. While “old” for us, this equipment is still in good condition, enabling local organizations to update their outdated furnishings with newer alternatives at no cost.
One of these organizations is Hitchcock Center For Women, a residential treatment facility for women in northeast Ohio dealing with drug and alcohol addiction. Progressive’s donations over the last few years have helped Hitchcock provide a clean, safe, and professional atmosphere for their employees, volunteers, and guests.
In 2017, Progressive’s Real Estate team even went a step further—volunteering to renovate several high-traffic and public areas where clients and their families are first introduced to Hitchcock’s staff. These upgrades included re-carpeting and patching, priming, and painting walls and ceilings, with all materials and labor coming from Progressive. In addition, we donated and installed 26 private office furniture setups, conference room furniture, and tables and chairs for common areas, meeting rooms, and group therapy spaces.
“The transformation was stunning, and the experience was very uplifting for the Hitchcock staff and clientele, leaving them with a feeling that someone out there cares,” says Progressive Real Estate Construction Manager Scott Green. “Hearing that was reward enough. Being able to save our unused equipment from landfills is a nice bonus.”less
Since 2007, we’ve reduced our annual regional electric consumption by 67,253,561 kWh*
To support our sustainability efforts, we donate PCs and office equipment to non-profit organizations for reuse.
Most of our recycling efforts are related to paper, glass, aluminum, plastic and cardboard.
See 2017 results for these efforts below.
For America Recycles Day in 2017, the Real Estate and Facility Services organizations held events throughout the week of Nov. 15 at large Progressive locations to recycle cold-weather gear, household batteries, CDs/DVDs, cell phones, and animal bedding. Items collected were donated to local organizations like Batteries Plus, Salvation Army, and PAWS for recycling or charitable purposes.
Progressive’s Real Estate group donated office supplies and furniture to organizations suggested by employees through the Donation Station. In 2017, we gave away items with a depreciated value of $1,640 to four charitable organizations and schools in northeast Ohio. Since inception, we’ve given away items with a depreciated value of $28,200 to 23 charitable organizations and schools in northeast Ohio.
For Environmental Awareness Week in April 2017, employees participated in educational activities around the company to learn ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle, and help make a difference in the environment and our communities.
Progressive donated 841 computers, laptops and monitors to 19 schools and charitable organizations around the country in 2017 at an estimated depreciated value of more than $69,368. Since inception, the program has donated over 3,573 computers, laptops, and monitors to 90 schools and charitable organizations around the country at an estimated value of more than $384,600.
In 2017, we recycled 12,504 pounds of ink and toner cartridges and reused 6,704 pounds of ink and toner cartridges through UpCycle.
Once again, our efforts to run an environmentally responsible business put us in Newsweek’s Green Rankings. We’ve made each published list since 2012.The popular online magazine ranked us among the best of the U.S.’s largest companies based on our corporate sustainability and impact on the environment.
In 2017, due to our efforts to encourage a paperless customer experience, we avoided mailing about 3 million pounds of paper.