Archive for September, 2008
“Cars have been marketed as a person’s pathway to a life of luxury, freedom, excitement, and exploration … cars are a symbol of status, whereas public transportation (buses and trains) are a symbol of an individual’s limits. Every single time someone rides a bus (that is, if they are riding it out of necessity and not by choice), they are reminded of their social and economic class.”
The above insight about one of the pitfalls of public transportation, from an environmental perspective, is from environmental artist Catherine Blackwell-Pena’s blog, Riding Green. Her point is an important one: while some “green” behaviors have developed a degree of social cachet over time (think of all those celebrities driving hybrids and shopping at their local farmer’s markets), other actions – like riding a bus – have somehow not garnered the same desirable environmental status.
Blackwell-Pena is working to change the image of public transportation and help raise its green status by designing these Duv-Tal seats – environmentally-conscious, inexpensive and unobtrusive public chairs, installed on light posts commonly found at public bus stops. The Duv-Tal seats serve to add a level of “visual respect” to the Memphis, TN area where they’ve been installed (many bus stops here lack adequate seating, leaving passengers to stand or sit on the ground) and messaging on each seat reminds passengers that by utilizing public transportation, they’re serving as positive environmental role models.
To impact real positive environmental change, we’re going to have to move beyond actions that are convenient, inexpensive or popular to tackle those more complex, requiring more effort and perhaps less socially-desirable. Thanks to the efforts of individuals like Catherine Blackwell-Pena, such actions are getting overdue attention and respect.
Here’s an idea we love: tap into the athletes among us – by nature a passionate, dedicated group – and use their events and venues to advance environmental awareness.
Athletes for a Fit Planet is working to do just that — providing environmentally-responsible solutions for race and event organizers looking to reduce their event waste and emissions. Below, Chief Green Officer Bruce Rayner shares his experience, inspiration and vision for the future of environmental awareness in the athletic world:
I launched Athletes for a Fit Planet early in 2008. I had an epiphany at a race last year – after the race I was carrying around an empty water bottle and looking for a recycling bin, but there were none. All they had were trash cans piled full of plastic water bottles, paper and food waste. It occurred to me then that there was a need for someone to offer a service to help race organizers re-think their events so the environment would not have to suffer. I’m an avid triathlete and runner, and so my focus with Athletes for a Fit Planet is on these events for now — but I’m also branching out to include charity walks and student groups. When you think about it, whenever people gather together for an activity – be it a school, a race or a concert – there’s the opportunity to integrate environmentally responsible practices.
How did you spend your summer vacation? In China, more than 5,000 students spent it on their feet, participating in the Green Long March – the country’s largest student conservation movement – traveling a cumulative 2008 kilometers and engaging thousands in environmental dialogue along the way. (We think it sounds a lot like the summer our friends on the Big Green Bus have had … only without the bus.)
Our Earthkeeper Hero Agent 350 shared his experiences with the Green Long March in a recent blog post and also in the following video. You don’t need to understand Chinese to be able to see and hear the enthusiasm in the students participating on the march; they’re optimistic, energetic, and clearly committed to their effort to preserve the environment.
We live in a marvelous, modern age of technology – technology that has its place and plays a critical role in countless initiatives underway to help stem global warming. But campaigns like the Green Long March remind us that positive, powerful change can also come, more simply, from putting one foot in front of another.
Congratulations to the Green Long Marchers on a successful journey … and for making the most of their summer break.