“I Never Knew Businesses Could Be This Awesome.” AGC Students Inspired by Earth Day at Abt Electronics

2 May

This Earth Day, AGC’s 3rd graders took an eye-opening trip to Abt Electronics to explore themes from two units of inquiry “Community Economy” and “Way too Much Energy.”

Abt’s Electronics is a family-owned electronics company that has grown from three employees in the 1930s to over a thousand employees today.

In addition to providing over 75 years of exemplary customer services and dozens of awards for excellent customer and employee care, including three years running as a Chicago Tribune Top Workplace, Abt has established themselves as a model for sustainable operations. Among Abt’s sustainable innovations, our students were most impressed with:

– Abt’s biodiesel delivery fleet (not to mention biodiesel dump trucks and bobcats)

– Abt’s capacity to recycle 95% of their waste, including on-site styrofoam, battery and electronics recycling,

– Abt’s 37 acre warehouse and store has reduced their landfill trash pickup from once daily to once a week

– onsite windmills, solar panels and a natural gas generator producing off-the-grid energy for a drastic reduction in the company’s energy footprint

-onsite healthy food, gym and bike rental

-onsite electric car charging stations.

Abt Electronics, their employees and leadership are incredible models for our nation’s young people as they inherit a society increasingly dependent on the health of our planet. Says AGC educator Berenice Salas “ABT electronics is an exemplar community business that opens its doors with the absolute purpose of sharing their love for the Earth.”

Our students were greeted by brothers Mike and Jon Abt and enjoyed a full day of meaningful activities with Abt’s enthusiastic team. Highlights from the day included:

  • A scavenger hunt of recyclable and non recyclable items.
  • Earth day arts and crafts
  • A visit to the generator room
  • An employee in scuba gear cleaning the store’s amazing aquarium
  • Behind the scenes access to the security room
  • Lunch in employee cafeteria
  • Participating in recycling styrofoam by assisting in loading unto conveyor below.

Finally, AGC students treated Abt customers and employees to an impromptu yoga demonstration in the store’s spectacular atrium.

Each activity and experience reinforced our students’ understanding of the important role of sustainability in business.

Abt demonstrates that, in addition to being crucial to the survival of our species and planet, sustainable operations can save a business infinite funds. It’s just good business.  Ms. Salas adds:

 “Our units of inquiry (Community Economy & Way Too Much Energy) came to life as we learned about the Abt family’s active citizenship within local economy and their dedication to renewable energy. This visit put our learning into real world application. This context, this exposure, needs to be modeled to our children. What an inspiration!”

The visit had a lasting impact on students, staff, parent chaperones. A chaperone reflected that “Our children’s curiosities are unique in the sense that they are asking questions that can transform our world.” The chaperone added with enthusiasm that “Knowing that a business like this exists, I will make sure to spread the word.”

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