Five for Friday: Five Ways Sarah Jane is Going Green

During Earth Week, I described steps National Geographic is taking to green its facilities, corporate practices, and all-round image. It’s one thing for a mammoth organization (pun on May mag cover story intended) with man and purchasing power, and the benefits of things like “strategic subcommittees” to tackle such an endeavor, but it can be downright overwhelming for an individual. At nearly every go-green event I attend, participants ask for advice on HOW to sort through the seemingly limitless abundance of information and demands on their time and attention–much of it conflicting–to identify green action steps that make sense for THEM.

Start small! Just like training for a marathon, going green is a lifestyle change that requires both physical and mental commitment, and it is most easily accomplished gradually. Once you start making minor adjustments, I bet you’ll be surprised by how far you can go, and the impact you can have over a time frame as modest as a year.

Of course “small” is a relative term, so I thought I’d share five steps I’ve taken to green my own life by way of example:

1. Shop local. I visit my local farmer’s market once weekly, where I buy the majority of my produce. When shopping at the grocery store, I try to buy local when it’s offered. I also make an effort to patronize locally-owned restaurants, clothing stores, and other retail outlets. This significantly reduces my share of the fuel used to transports goods, and I value developing a rapport with people who have a vested interest in the community they serve.

2. Minimize meat consumption. I like to think of myself as not
so much of a vegetarian as a “meat minimalist.” I eat meat sparingly, a
couple times a week, and try to get the majority of my protein from
plant sources and dairy. When I do eat meat, I opt for organic,
ethically produced varieties. We can all reduce our meat consumption,
saving food, water, and oil resources (Did you know that it takes 2.5 –
pounds of grain and 435 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef?
Check out the new film Food, Inc to learn more about food choices and
the food industry).

3. Travel sustainably. When traveling home from D.C. to Boston,
I take the train instead of flying. It takes a bit longer, but it’s a
significant carbon savings and a pleasant, scenic ride through coastal New England. I walk and bike around D.C. and take Metro as a last resort.

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Five for Friday: Five Ways National Geographic is Going Green

I’m frequently asked, often with a tinge of skepticism, what National Geographic (MWW’s parent organization) is doing to “go green.” As an organization with a 100+ year history of “increasing and diffusing geographic knowledge” and a sexy mission statement of “inspiring people to care about the planet”–it’s undoubtedly a fair question.

NGGreen1.jpgFirst, the boring disclaimer: As a non-partisan, non-profit/media organization, the National Geographic Society (NG) generally avoids pure-form advocacy. Rather than taking hard-line stances, we aim for objective reporting.

However, to the extent that a general consensus exists over the need to conserve the world’s resources, we’re on board! And there are a number of things we’re doing as an organization to that end. So, to round out what we’re calling “Earth Week,” this Five for Friday I’m describing–you guessed it–five of those initiatives.

1. Go Green. About two years ago, Nat Geo launched the “Go Green” initiative to define and reduce the Society’s environmental impact. Seven subcommittees were formed to tackle issues relating to corporate practices and facilities worldwide: buildings, cafeteria, carbon, employee practices, internal communication & education, purchasing, products & packaging, and travel.

2. LEED Certification. Following careful renovations and retrofitting, NG headquarters in Washington, D.C. became the first existing facility in the country to receive prestigious LEED certification, as well as Energy Star certification.

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Guestblogger Series: Happy Arbor Day from NYC!

Arbor Day is our national holiday to celebrate tree planting and care. As New York City is best known as a paved paradise, you might not expect to hear this greeting coming from here. But that is exactly why
I am writing today.

NYC_SatelliteImage.jpg                                                               Angela King. Copyright

NYC might not seem that green from first glimpse, even from the air. But there are over 5 million trees in our city! Beyond 6,000 acres of woodlands that stand out on the satellite map, there are trees along our streets, on public property, in commercial and housing developments, and in backyards–yes, we even have backyards here!

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April 2009 Newsletter

Read the April 2009 Newsletter: “Environmental April”

Inside: Get Outside!
GeoFeature: The Green Effect: Win $20,000 by Designing Your Own Conservation Project
Geography in the News: The Great Turtle Race
Blog: Environmental Education Guest Bloggers

april 09 1.JPG

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Earth Week Digest: A Days Outing, Party for the Planet, and Everybody Eats

Party for the Planet:

Earth day is tomorrow, and if you haven’t already made plans, how about attending a Party for the Planet at your local zoo or aquarium? Your local AZA-accredited zoo or aquarium is the ideal place to connect with conservation in your community. Party for the Planet festivities will feature environmental education activities, amazing animal encounters and fantastic family fun.

Everybody Eats:

Today, whilst reading the ethicurean, I stumbled across a link to a Yes! Magazine article describing how a community food system works. The article was titled Everybody Eats and has a pretty cool downloadable poster that very nicely illustrates how a local food system can work (teachers: use this in your classroom, parents: show your kids).

FoodSystem_Poster11x17.jpg Now I know that Earth Day isn’t normally associated with feasting (like Christmas or Thanksgiving), but why not start a trend? I like to eat good food, and in my opinion, good food comes from local sources. So this Earth Day, get together with friends and family and have a locally-sourced potluck or holiday feast!

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