Be smarter next Earth Day

Green Thumbs Down

Green Thumbs Down

“Eighty-five percent of consumers have this intention to save energy, but only three percent do. What the hell is this massive gap between intention and action all about?” (Thomas Scaramellino, founder of Efficiency 2.0)

Today is Earth Day. This year needs to be Earth Year. This decade needs to be Earth Decade. This life needs to be Earth Life.

Why isn’t it?

Maybe it’s because the way we encourage people to get “green” is broken. Counter-productive. Wrong. The next time you see the promo during 24 that points you at a Fox website about how to get “green”, think twice.

Our approach to increasing environmental awareness is so devoid of nuance that what it gains in accesibility it sacrifices in effectiveness. Hearing “green” tips without context is like taking showers without water: nothing gets cleaner.

Yes, we all need to use real towels instead of paper ones. Yes, we all need to turn off the bathroom light when not in the bathroom. But we need more. We need better. We need smarter.

Take time next month to figure out what your environmental impact actually is. There are lots of ways to do this:

  • Everyone can see what their personal environmental impact is by answering the question: What’s my Carbon Footprint?
  • Consumers can use GoodGuide to find out the environmental impact of the things you buy.
  • Businesses can use Earthster to find out the environmental impact of their supply chains.

By taking stock of your environmental impact, you can then focus your efforts to reduce it in the most productive way. Better information opens the window to understanding. Understanding opens the door to action. Action opens the floodgates of change and progress.

One Love. One II.

Image Credit: iampiri on Flickr


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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

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