On April 22nd, more than 40 DB Schenker employees put on gloves and sun visors, grabbed trash bags, loaded up on water and snacks, and spent much of the day cleaning up the beach, clearing out weeds, and planting new trees at Biscayne Bay in Florida. As part of Baynanza 2017, the group gathered on Earth Day to help protect and preserve the bay itself and, subsequently, the adjacent Atlantic Ocean.
Coordinated by Marielena Hevia, Maximo Fernandez, and Andres Restreppo from the Miami branch, they reached out to other members of the regional/national team for support. Laura J. Gisleson, Director of DB Schenker’s U.S. Ocean Operations, says the large group was gleaned from the company’s robust corporate volunteer program. The program is part of a larger, global effort that finds different company departments hosting specific volunteer projects around the globe. “Lucky for us, Baynanza specifically targeted the ocean,” says Gisleson, “which we thought was really cool.”
Ocean for Oceans
After naming its team “Ocean for Oceans,” Gisleson’s department recruited more than 40 people to participate in the April event. Working in tandem with TREEmendous Miami, a group of dedicated citizens making Miami-Dade a “greener, cooler, healthier, and more enjoyable environment in which to live,” Ocean for Oceans utilized the former’s trees, mulch, and equipment to plant new trees and foliage.
"TREEmendous donated all of the materials and we helped plant a lot of new foliage to support the bay’s ecosystem,” says Gisleson, who adds that TREEmendous was impressed by the sheer number of DB Schenker employees who gave their time to the cause. “They were very excited when they saw the size of our group, and immediately asked if we would register specifically for the TREEmendous part of the project—which we happily did.”
And with that, Ocean for Oceans took action by digging holes and helping to prep the land for the addition of more than 100 trees and bushes. They also planted other types of vegetation and cleaned up the area along the way. Gisleson says the project aligned well with DB Schenker’s overall goals for ocean and coastal preservation. “It was great to find something that directly correlates to what we’re already doing,” says Gisleson, “and that plays right into one of our core business lines—ocean.”
What is a “Baynanza?”
The early 1980s marked the beginning of a monumental effort by Miami-Dade County to save Biscayne Bay, which at the time was suffering from pollution and the steep decline of its marine environment. Celebrating its 35th year in 2017, Baynanza was created as part of a larger effort to save the bay.
“Baynanza is a celebration of Biscayne Bay and its significance as one of our most important ecological systems in South Florida,” according to the Miami-Dade County government’s website. “While Baynanza includes more than 25 great events throughout March and April, the event that has become nearly synonymous with this celebration is the Biscayne Bay Cleanup Day.”
Gisleson says the event garnered the interest of DB Schenker employees nationwide, some of whom are from foreign countries and working in the U.S. “Pretty much everyone put their hands up and said, ‘Yes!’” Gisleson says. “We had a very diverse group of people who were eager to give their time to a cause that directly correlates with their job and their industry. As such, it was a win-win all around.”
Even when the official “clock” ran out on the day and most of the other volunteers hung up their gloves and visors for the day, Ocean for Oceans hung around and made sure the job was finished to completion. After all, what better feeling than giving your time to improving the environment and our oceans on a gorgeous April day in Miami?
“We committed to a certain number of hours but we wound up staying longer—along with TREEmendous—to finish the project,” Gisleson. “This really goes to show how serious everyone was about the positive impact of an event like Baynanza.”
Taking it Global
Now, DB Schenker is looking to “globalize” this Miami-Dade event by involving other departments in similar efforts around the world. “We’d like to use this project as a model and—from an ocean perspective—seek out similar volunteer projects to get involved with,” Gisleson says. “We’re going to find the projects and then present them to our senior-level managers to help encourage the ‘giving back’ behavior and culture within DB Schenker.”
These and other efforts further solidify DB Schenker’s position as an environmentally-conscious logistics organization that understands the world that it’s operating in—and the impact that its actions have on that world. “The world is shrinking and we literally touch every corner of it,” says Gisleson. “We want to make a positive impact through CO2 reductions, cleanup efforts, and other green projects that are important from the environmental, cultural, and societal perspectives.”