Life at Work: At Marstel-Day, employees take Earth Day seriously

Company: Marstel-Day.

Location: Fredericksburg and Alexandria.

Employees: 120.

Every year on Earth Day, you won’t find the employees of Marstel-Day at their offices. Instead, the staff joins together to spend the day out in the community, working on a volunteer project that is connected to the environmental consultancy’s goals of conservation and sustainability.

Chief executive Rebecca Rubin has sought to make this event an integral part of the Fredericksburg-based firm’s workplace culture. In fact, when she moves to bring a new hire aboard, she includes a clause in the offer letter that states that participation in Earth Day service is mandatory.

“I wanted people to understand that it wasn’t optional. It was something that we take absolutely seriously,” Rubin said.

Since the policy was put in place eight years ago, Marstel-Day staffers have taken on a wide variety of projects, including planting trees, building rain barrels and creating walking trails.

Rubin said she feels these activities are an important way to bring to life the issues that her team grapples with each day in the office.

“There has to be one moment when you tie it to your community, you tie it to your present reality,” Rubin said.

For this year’s Earth Day, staffers from the Fredericksburg and Alexandria offices plan to tackle three different projects. One group will work with the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge, helping to clean up trails and construct an entry way and kiosk. Others will join with Tree Fredericksburg, a nonprofit reforestation group, to plant about 90 trees in a neighborhood that lacks tree cover. Still more employees will spruce up the native plant garden located at the company’s headquarters.

Amanda Boccuti, an analyst at the firm, said these activities have typically built camaraderie among the staff.

“It’s an opportunity to work side by side with people that you hadn’t had a chance to work with,” Boccuti said.

Rubin also sees the initiative as a way to build relationships and goodwill with the surrounding community, from public officials to ordinary citizens.

Sarah Halzack is The Washington Post's national retail reporter. She has previously covered the local job market and the business of talent and hiring. She has also served as a Web producer for business and economic news.
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