Nearly 26 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 – have 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 and its effect 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 over 1,800 passionate 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. The mission is to help raise overall awareness and drive others to act, both at work and at home. Our champions – alongside others from across the company – are true leaders in helping us achieve our new Earth Month campaign to Connect for a Cleaner Future.

This year, we’re focused on helping to reduce the mounting problem of electronic waste, or e-waste. Each year, consumers upgrade to the latest technology, representing millions of cell phones, tablets, laptops and computers. Their old ones either fill their junk drawers or, unfortunately, end up in landfill, potentially leaking toxic chemicals into the earth. Less than 20% of electronics are 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 during April and Human-I-T will wipe any data before recycling or refurbishing the device. The best part is, Human-I-T will not only wipe the devices but they’ll also repurpose 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 with a pilot program at select retail locations in Dallas and Atlanta. At these stores, for every pound of e-waste customers bring into the store, we’ll give $1* to The Nature Conservancy, a global environmental organization working to advance effective, lasting conservation around the world.

We also reuse or recycle all device trade-ins. For AT&T customers, next time you get a new phone, don’t forget to send us 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 to Connect for a Cleaner Future and bring solutions that are good for the planet, our business and all of our stakeholders. I hope you will join me.

* Max of $5K per store

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