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Blog / Connection & Climate Action in the Corporate World

Connection & Climate Action in the Corporate World

Charles Neidenbach’s journey with Ecochallenge began well before his career: “It goes back to when I was getting my master’s in sustainability in Asheville, NC right after Project Drawdown put out their book,” Charles recalls. After attending a talk by Katherine Wilkinson, he was so moved by the potential of drawdown, he was the sole attendee of her book signing. “I was so inspired!” he said. He later met executive director, Liz Zavodsky, and talked to her about Drawdown Ecochallenge.

He took that inspiration and Ecochallenge connection with him to two distinct corporate sustainability roles – first at UPS and then Office Depot – and experienced the transformative potential of firsthand. In 2019, his team at UPS had an eye-opening journey with Plastic Free Ecochallenge. But it was in 2021, amidst the isolation of the pandemic, that he truly felt the hunger of employees for a sense of purpose and connection, “Ecochallenge came to mind as an awesome way to bridge people working remotely!”

Understanding the diverse backgrounds and perspectives at Office Depot, Charles collaborated with employee resource groups (ERGs)- representing African American, Hispanic, Women in Leadership, the LGBTQ+ community, and others - to launch the Project Drawdown Challenge. The results? A groundswell of enthusiasm. The women's group, for instance, didn't just participate; they soared to the Top 10 globally.

Gerry Smith, the CEO, saw the magic happening. Intrigued, he invited Charles to introduce the essence of to the company's executive team. His response? A passionate, "I want to do this every year and get to first place!"

Reflecting on this journey, Neidenbach says, "Frankly it was inspiring. And it brought about a sense of hope. It’s easy to get bogged down in the climate conversation. People wonder: Are my actions making a difference? With Ecochallenge, they knew they were making an impact.

For Charles, what sets apart in the corporate sustainability landscape isn't just its global reach or its actionable solutions. It's the human touch. “ takes climate action to a different level – making it personal and being part of a community.”

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