By Brian Shaw, CAPP

Earth Day gives us an opportunity each spring to reflect and consider the health of our planet. As the largest, most complex system humans directly affect, the earth has been changed by our actions and deeds.

However, as improvement in our air and water quality, recovery of some endangered species, and clean-up of toxic sites has shown the last 40+ years, humans can change to help our earth.

These improvements are the result of long-lasting, consistent change in policy, regulation, and funding. While taking some sustainable action on Earth Day might make us feel like we are helping our home, the earth takes a long time to heal. That is why IPI’s Sustainability Committee has revamped its charging statement to bring long-lasting, sustainable practices to our industry. The committee is also getting ready to release an info sheet about greenwashing to help IPI members understand what it truly means to be “green.”

As someone who grew up in Los Angeles when that city’s air was at its worst, I know our collective actions that hurt the environment also negatively affect our health and happiness. I remember on summer days losing my breath and having to stop what I was doing because the smog was so bad. The air in L.A. is better today thanks to actions taken back then to improve vehicle emissions, support non-drive-along modes, and eventually develop a transit network for the region.

As we take time this week to honor the earth, use this time to develop sustainable practices for your organization or operations that are long-lasting, impactful, and will contribute to helping our planet heal and thrive.

Happy Earth Week!

Brian Shaw, CAPP, is executive director of parking and transportation services at Stanford University and co-chair of IPI’s Sustainability Committee.