During the pandemic, it can be hard to feel a sense of normalcy. We aren’t traveling or gathering as much—and the QAI team has been surprised by how much we miss in-person interactions in our offices in La Jolla, California. But recently, we found a way to come together and to help care for the planet with our first QAI Virtual Clean-Up event.
Throughout the week of October 5, our staffers set out on safe and socially distanced trash-collecting expeditions in or near their neighborhoods, from the San Diego area all the way to Ontario, Canada. Since our start in 1989, QAI has been committed to sustainability, earning ISO 14001 environmental certification by implementing practices like composting and zero-waste lunches at the office. The virtual event was our creative solution to help maintain that certification while working from home.
All week, we shared stories and photos of our finds on our online Teams platform, which was much more entertaining and funnier than it sounds. Then we crunched the data to quantify the green impact. Our team picked up more than 246 gallons of trash from local streets, parking lots, beaches, schools and parks. Senior Reviewer Allison McLeod won a prize for the largest rubbish haul: 84 gallons, measured by garbage-bag capacity. Certification Project Manager Michelle Mendoza won for the “most interesting” discard: a Cadbury Easter Egg hidden too well in a bush back in April.
Staffers enjoyed making a positive impact on their communities while getting a workout and spending time outside with their families and pets. "I love being part of a team that values the environment so much," says Certification Project Manager Samantha Trujillo. Senior Certification Project Manager Lori Hooker says she’s picked up a new habit: “I now focus on spotting and picking up trash on everyday walks."
While we all miss traveling, gathering for public events and more, doing good is one of the best ways to feel good. We enjoyed our community clean-up so much that we now plan to do it twice a year. In addition to keeping our environment clean, QAI’s team is also inspired by news that additional lands worldwide are transitioning to organic and regenerative agriculture as more people vote with their pocketbooks for a more sustainable food system that also helps mitigate climate change impacts by capturing carbon in healthy soil.