Nearly 27 years ago I began my journey at AT&T, holding positions across the company before entering the sustainability field in 2009. During my time here I’ve been able to watch the incredible journey the company – and in particular all of our colleagues – has been on to help reduce our impact on the planet, while connecting people around the world.

As AT&T’s Director of Global Environmental Sustainability, I now work to help our company play a role in creating a better, more environmentally sustainable future, especially for our most vulnerable communities. Growing up in a rural Texas community that faces a lot of economic hardship and limited opportunities for people, I’ve seen firsthand the effects that harsher and more frequent weather events have had on agriculture and destruction of property. I’m all too familiar with the impact of our changing climate on the environment, human health, and economic vitality for these communities, but I have also seen how people can come together to take action.

We know that we can’t achieve our environmental goals on our own; the impact we can make must come from a collective effort. One way we do this is through our Environmental Champions program. The Champions are an employee-led community that is passionate about protecting the environment and currently, we have nearly 2,000 dedicated champions working together to help us reach our goals.

We engage colleagues on a range of environmental topics, including how to better understand, calculate and reduce their own carbon footprint. Our mission is to help raise overall awareness and drive others to act, both at work and at home. The Champions – alongside others from across the company – are true leaders in helping to steer our Earth Month campaign: Connecting for a Cleaner Future.

Again this year, we’re focused on working to reduce the increasing problem of electronic waste, or e-waste. When consumers upgrade to the latest technology, representing millions of cell phones, tablets, laptops and computers, their old ones clutter their homes or, unfortunately, end up in landfill, potentially leaking toxic chemicals into the earth. Globally, only 17.4% of e-waste is known to be collected and properly recycled each year, even though many of those devices could be refurbished and re-entered into use.

That’s why we’re encouraging employees to clean out their homes of old cell phones, laptops and tablets and offering an easy way to recycle them safely and securely with Human-I-T. Employees in office locations across the country will be able to bring devices to donation boxes marked “Recycle Your Tech Here,” brought to us by AT&T Believes. Human-I-T will wipe any data before recycling or refurbishing the device, repurposing them to help students and families in need – addressing another major goal of AT&T to help close the digital divide.

Along with our employee campaign, we’re also engaging customers to join in our e-waste efforts by deploying newly designed in-store receptacles at 20 retail locations in Seattle, Dallas, Austin, and Atlanta. At these stores, for every pound of e-waste customers bring into the store, we’ll donate one laptop* to local underserved students. We are also hosting two drives at stores in Dallas to collect e-waste, which Human I-T will responsibly recycle and repurpose. As a thank you to customers for participating, the first 125 customers can take home a 1-gallon tree from the Arbor Day Foundation and the Texas Trees Foundation. Further, at four stores in Dallas, returning your devices for recycling will earn a $10 charging credit for their new, piloted ChargePoint EV charging stations.

We also reuse or recycle all device trade-ins. This Earth Month, in partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation, AT&T will plant one tree** per device traded-in. So for AT&T customers, next time you get a new phone, don’t forget to turn in your old one and together we can help eliminate e-waste. Our certified recycling vendors will wipe any data prior to recycling or refurbishing any device.

I’m excited to be part of AT&T’s efforts Connecting for a Cleaner Future and bringing solutions that are good for the planet, our business and all of our stakeholders. I hope you will join me.

Up to 1,000 laptops

** Up to 50,000 trees

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