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A Sustainability Project

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From Jeff Silva, Sabu Mathew and Neha Thatte, Global Strategic Design, Johnson & Johnson

Sustainability has been a key priority of Johnson & Johnson for years. A few weeks ago, we launched our Healthy Future 2015 goals, which call for an increase in the sustainable design of the products from our operating companies. As employees of the Johnson & Johnson Global Strategic Design office.  We work with the businesses on packaging design, and we’ve learned important lessons about sustainable design over the years.

We wanted to take our enthusiasm for sustainable design and use it to inspire people to think about sustainability in a different way. This sustainability project was the end result – an effort to reuse excess materials that typically become waste while raising awareness about sustainability and helping people in low resource settings.

The project encourages people to educate themselves on waste and how they can reduce it, and it also focuses on the idea of eliminating waste.

Each of  the project’s initiatives is designed to not only touch on sustainability, but to also help educate Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies employees and community members on how they can be more sustainable. Each initiative also will have a positive social impact, by helping people in low resource settings.

For our pilot project, we worked with the East Harlem Council for Human Services, Inc. Bilingual Head Start program, one of our long-standing community partners. The program serves children 3 to 5 years of age in order to prepare them for kindergarten. As part of the curriculum, children learn how they can reuse objects, grow food and have a positive impact on the environment.

The project builds on a 20-year relationship between Johnson & Johnson and the UCLA Anderson School of Management, which provides management education to Head Start leaders. Rita Prats-Rodriguez, program director of the East Harlem Bilingual Head Start program, is a graduate of the program and a recipient of the Helen Taylor Award for Management Excellence.

After we took a field trip to this inspiring school and met with Program Director Rita Prats-Rodriguez and Education Director Ana Maria Aramburo, we decided that for our first project we would make notebooks for the children using excess materials.

We made 350 8 ½ by 14 inch notebooks using repurposed corrugated cardboard and paper. The corrugate came from three Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies sites and the paper was from the Johnson & Johnson Global Strategic Design office.

The notebooks are emblazoned with the Spanish phrase, “Haciendo El Mundo, Un Mundo Mejor,” which means, “Making the world a better world.” This phrase encompasses the goal of both the sustainability project and the school.

At an event at the school’s East Harlem, NY location a few weeks ago, students received their notebooks. Students worked with employees from the Johnson & Johnson Global Strategic Design office to draw pictures depicting what they thought would make the world a better place.  Drawings featured everything from rainbows and oceans to butterflies and smiley faces. It was an inspiration to see these 3, 4 and 5 year old children think of creative ways to better their world.

The focus on the environment doesn’t stop now that the notebooks are in the children’s hands. This fall, students will use the notebooks as scientific journals to draw and document different things they encounter in nature.

“We became enchanted with the program because in our school we have a mission and our mission is to promote a healthier lifestyle and a better future in our community,” Rita told us.

For us, we were pleased to see the first initiative of our sustainability project have a positive impact on the children of the Head Start program. For our next initiative, we hope to build on our relationship with Rita, Ana Maria and the children of the East Harlem Human Services, Inc. Bilingual Head Start program. We’re excited to see how this project can grow…sustainably of course.

Please take a moment to watch the slideshow below to see the notebooks, as well as the creative work of the children.

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