Posts from the ‘Environment’ category

Knowledge + Attitude = Action?

This was the equation at the center of one of Thursday’s New York Times Articles titled: How Understanding the Human Mind Might Save the World from CO2. The article shared insights gained from the Behavior, Energy and Climate Change Conference this past week in Washington D.C., and wouldn’t you know–highlighted social marketing as a potential solution to leading the climate change movement forward.

I believe the main message from the article is best summed up by one of the quotes from researcher Dr. Doug McKenzie-Mohr:

“Social psychologists have now known for four decades that the relationship between people’s attitudes and knowledge and behavior is scant at best,” said McKenzie-Mohr. “Yet campaigns remain heavily focused on brochures, flyers and other means of disseminating information…I could just as easily call this presentation ‘beyond brochures.”

Beyond brochures. Beyond promotion. Beyond. The article elaborated by pointing to research that knowledge and how we feel about something (attitude) do not always line up with action. So what’s the solution? The article, McKenzine-Mohr and the field of social marketing says: look at the barriers to the desired behavior change. Even simpler, look and study behavior. Even better, look at policy.

McKenzie-Mohr is a leader in what is referred to as community-based social marketing. A specific practice of social marketing that works to address sustainable practices such as recycling, waste water reduction, transportation and other green-related challenges.

I’ve been a fan of McKenzie-Mohr’s research since my grad school days as his research is what initially gave me the hope that social marketing can provide a framework to follow and help us discover lasting solutions to some of our world’s greatest problems–beyond those affecting public health. This week I was further inspired that social marketing has wider implications outside of “public health” by Craig Lefebvre’s recent post that applied social marketing to financial literacy and education.

Key Take-Aways:

  1. Social marketing can be applied to world issues beyond just public health such as the environment, financial literacy, poverty and other challenges.
  2. To create “change” or build a movement, look and study behavior change–not your PSA impressions.
  3. Better yet, consider where policy falls into the equation.

flickr photo credit: doozzle Drives Earth Day Buzz

Can you swallow this math?

According to Copywrite, Ink, there were 88,000 blog posts on Earth Day (April 22) that were added to the already existing 2 million written earlier in the week. What’s even more amazing? …About 10% of all those blog posts, came from bloggers on

In all transparency, I’m a participating members in both the BloggersUnite and BlogCatalog communities, and we worked on a project together in the past, but dang—they deserve a big pat on the back for accomplishing their exact mission, harnessing the power of the blogosphere.

As mentioned on the BloggersUnite Earth Day event page, Earth Day 2009 was held April 22nd and also marked the beginning The Green Generation Campaign, a two-year campaign that will culminate with the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day in 2010.

More Green Goodness

  • In honor of Earth Day, Colleague Mike Newton-Ward and fellow social marketer wrote a post on applying a social marketing approach to the environment and other green goodies that I highly recommend checking out. Bonus: He provides a slideshare presentation that outlines this even more! (But like a good blogging friend, I’m going to make you go to his post to access it. It’s worth it.)
  • Looking for ways to take action? Check out EPA’s “Pick 5” campaign to identify five ways you can start today to make a difference for our earth. Twitter tag: #p5e

One More Thought

So I say again, great job Tony, Rich and the whole BloggersUnite team–and count this posting just one more for the record book! And I ask you, the SB reader, how have you seen blogging communities drive awareness, change and/or action? I have some of my own ideas, but I’m more into hearing yours. =)

100 Years of Clean Drinking Water says WHO

“According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1.1 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water. Unsafe water and inadequate sanitation kills nearly TWO MILLION people each year, mostly children under the age of five.”

One of my responses to the Changeblogger meme was to get more involved and educated around issues surrounding clean water and access to water. Here is one step towards that goal.


September 26, marks the 100th Year of Safe Water according to the American Chemistry Council, and we can help continue and supply safe drinking water to others.


  • 100 years ago, Jersey City became the first U.S. cities to routinely chlorinate municipal drinking water supplies. Over the next decade, more than a thousand U.S. cities adopted chlorination, helping to dramatically reduce infectious diseases.

About Chlorine

  • Today, about 9/10 U.S. public water systems rely on chlorine in some form for safe drinking water.
  • Chlorine can destroy disease-causing microorganisms.
  • Chlorine removes many unpleasant tastes and odors, as well as certain metal contaminants like iron and manganese.
  • Chlorine also providedes a residual level of disinfectant to keep water safe while in transport from the plant to a consumer’s water tap.

Quick Facts

  • U.S. CDC calls drinking water chlorination “one of the most significant public health advances in US history.” In that same vein, in 1997, LIFE magazine hailed the filtration and chlorination of drinking water as “probably the most significant public health advancement of the millennium.”
  • Drinking water chlorination has helped to virtually eliminate waterborne diseases such as cholera and typhoid fever, and played a major role in increasing Americans’ life expectancy from 47 years in 1900 to 78 years in 2006.
  • Where piped water supplies are not available, simple techniques to disinfect and safely store water in individual households can dramatically reduce waterborne disease. A recent study by the WHO found that household-based chlorination is the most cost-effective way to reduce these waterborne illnesses.

Call to Action :: Disinfect 100 liters of Water with 1 Click

For starters, we can partake in ACC’s Clean Water Challenge Quiz. For every correct answer, the ACC with support from others, will donate $0.20 (up to a total of $200,000) to support household water chlorination programs in West Africa.

Your 1 Correct Answer + $0.20 = the cost of five chlorine tablets –> designed to disinfect 100 liters of water!

The Downside of Chlorine

  • Some environmentalists urge that chlorine is a short-term solution arguing that cleaning up our rivers, lakes and streams is more sustaining
  • Some health researchers argue that with all the benefits of adding chlorine (such as decreased Typhoid cases), there may be side effects of other increased health problems.


  • Some say that Canada and Europe have switched from using chlorine to using ozone to ensure safe water. A handful of U.S. cities like Las Vegas practice this as well.
  • Before using tap water, leave the water uncovered in the fridge for 24 hours for the chlorine to leave the water.
  • Invest in a filtration system (which I have heard debates on this issue as well).
  • Practice recycling and treat our water resources with care.

I would have to agree that I want us to find long-term, sustainable ways to have clean water and to increase water accessibility to others. I think as a base-line, we can all start by educating ourselves and learning more about where our water comes from and how we are impacted.

What’s your experience?

I admit I’m no expert, and invite the discussion here in the comments. If you have more ways to get involved in the accessibility to safe water issue, please post in the comments, as it’s an issue I’m increasingly educating myself on as well. Thank you!

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EPA Blogger Neighbor Aaron, brings more than Green to the Greenversation

This week’s Blogger Neighborhood profile intrigues you more and more as you read. Not only does Aaron do fascinating work for the EPA, but he also lives a life full of passion – for the environment, for adventure and for his family.

I mean, not sure about you, but I haven’t met too many other people who have been both an elephant trainer and a first-mate on a whale watching boat…and that’s just the beginning. Enjoy!


Blog Name: Greenversations

Blog Topic: Greenversations is the official blog of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, writing about personal experiences related to their work. Science Wednesday on the blog features EPA research and development efforts, highlighting environmental and human health research. The overall goal is to engage the public to help accomplish EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment.

About the Author: Aaron Ferster is the lead science writer-editor for the EPA’s Office of Research and Development. As a member of the science communications team, Aaron’s primary focus is communicating EPA research and development to the general public, translating often highly technical environmental and human health science into language and media that is accessible, accurate and engaging to non-scientific audiences.

Before coming to EPA, Aaron spent ten years working as an exhibit writer and developer at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoological Park, in Washington, D.C. He also worked as a first-mate on a whale watch boat, an assistant camera man for National Geographic film crew, and an elephant trainer. He lives in suburban Maryland with his wife, two daughters (one hearing, one deaf), a dog, and a turtle. He and his wife are currently working on a book together about their experiences raising a deaf daughter.

What first Prompted Him to Blog: I’ve been a big fan of blogs for a while. I’m really intrigued by the evolution of the way bloggers and their readers communicate, forming free-flowing, often passionate on-line communities. So when the opportunity to blog at EPA came along, I jumped at the chance. My first chance to post on Greenversations was to help promote “Bike to Work Day.” I’m an avid bike commuter, so it was a perfect fit.

What’s one lesson you’ve learned from blogging? That people are interested in what EPA is doing, and that blogging is a completely appropriate way for us and other government agencies to engage the public in an ongoing dialogue.

If you could live on any street, what would the street be named, and why? Abbey’s Way (Take the other) – tribute to Edward Abbey, one of my favorite writer’s, and a passionate environmentalist.

Who would be your dream real-life neighbor? A full complement of native critters: owls, box turtles, red-tailed hawks, orioles, black snakes, skunks, foxes, white-tailed deer, and perhaps the wandering bear or coyote now and again. We had a pair of barred owls nest in a tree next to our house a couple years ago and the kids loved it.

What latest new bites would you share with your neighbors if they asked you how you were doing? Puppy news – we have an eight-month-old puppy and our neighbors on both sides also have young dogs, so we have lots of puppy news to chat about.

What would you give to a new neighbor as the perfect welcoming gift? Fresh blueberry pie and a gallon of vanilla ice cream.

What is your favorite blog post and why? Michael Chorost, a deaf science writer and author of Rebuilt: how Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human, keeps a blog about his experiences as a cochlear implant recipient. My wife and I are currently embroiled in a fight with my health insurance company over refusal to cover a second cochlear implant for our daughter. Chorost chronicles a similiar fight he had on his blog, and his post has been both educational and inspirational.

Past Blogger Neighbors Include:


This continuous weekly series highlights different blogs and their respective bloggers in the blogosphere neighborhood. Following the great Mr. Rogers, who tells us to ‘Get to know your neighbor,’ this series introduces us to our blogger neighbors, making for a more unified, collaborative voice for the social sector. Like to nominate someone or be featured yourself? Contact me @

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Are You a Change-Agent? User-Experience Inspires Environmental Change

Timberland + Changents provide an innovative platform, strategy and user experience for change

What do a bus, a canary, an artist, a rocker and a college grad have in common? Getting green. and inspiring others to follow suit.

Today, Timberland, the outdoor company, and Changents unveiled a new online experience where individuals can be catalysts for change by teaming up with environmental “Change Agents” from around the world to advance the green revolution.

Engage ::

Watch broadcasts of firsthand experiences from the field through blogs, videos, photo albums, Flickr streams, phoned-in podcasts, Twitter dispatches and more.

Back a Change Agent by assuming the roles of:

  • “Fan” (a shout-out of support),
  • “First Responder” (being on-call if their Change Agent gets in a pinch),
  • “Buzz Builder” (promoting a Change Agent’s stories and Action Requests through viral sharing),
  • “Angel” (helping fill their Change Agent’s piggy bank) and
  • “Advocate” (influence policy makers with respect to a Change Agent’s cause)

Plug in to ‘Earthkeepers,’ where you can follow and interact with 5 extraordinary Change Agents, dubbed, “Earthkeeper Heroes.

  • Big Green Bus (12 Dartmouth students travel the country this summer in a tricked-out school bus converted to run on waste vegetable oil);
  • The Canary Project (an artist couple convey the story of human-induced climate change and potential solutions through media, events and artwork);
  • Agent 350 (a recent college grad and his scrappy team sprint to build a global, online/offline climate action movement from scratch);
  • Reverb (a group of rock and roll road warriors green summer concert tours for Dave Matthews, John Mayer and Maroon 5/Counting Crows while engaging fans around environmental sustainability);
  • POWERleaper (A 23-year old designtrepeneur created a blueprint for urban flooring systems that generates electricity from human foot traffic).

Become an Earthkeeper Hero yourself! Nominate yourself or others to compete for a chance to join the ranks of this amazing group.

About :: is an entertainment-driven Internet destination that connects innovators of social and environmental change – Change Agents – with a global network of people who want to help them. In 2007, Changents was founded by two social entrepreneurs, Alex Hofmann and Deron Triff, who set out to engage a digitally-connected, socially-conscious generation on its own terms.

“We started Changents to give a new generation of social and environmental problem-solvers the tools they need to build teams of active followers and help them become ‘rock stars’ of change through the Internet,” said Changents Co-Founder and CEO Deron Triff.”

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Plastic. If anything inspires to reduce your use, it’s this.

Fellow Twitter follower Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang) who works at Forrester Research shared this motivating video series with me titled: The Toxic Garbage Island.

Long time considered ‘urban myth,’ this series seeks out the truth about the supposed ‘Garbage Island’ the size of Texas floating in the middle of the Pacific north of Hawaii between California and Japan.

Videographers, along with University of Missouri researcher (go Tigers!) Dr. Frederick Vom Saal, took a 3-week trip to the Garbage Island and produced a 12-video series to create awareness and provide a visual for everyone back at home. (warning: some video coverage uses minor extreme language….course, the issue is pretty extreme in itself.) Share any reactions you might have in the comments. I was personally stunned, and motivated to cut down. For the more official website with the video series, blog and pictures, click here. (having troubles embedding video…lo siento!) Trust me tho, it’s worth it!

I once talked with a teacher who said every year she took her class on a field trip to a landfill…she said it was more for the life lesson than curriculum planning. I hope my future kids, whenever I do hopefully have them, has a teacher like that someday. =)

photo credit: tuff-titmouse

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18 Fun, Unique Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

Going green on a daily basis is great….but who doesn’t like another reason to celebrate?

Join millions around the globe in celebrating Earth Day, this Tuesday, April 22, 2008. Here are some of the many ways you can join in the celebration:

1. I first want to congratulate you because the easiest way to celebrate Earth Day is to learn more about the earth and earth-related topics (recycling, global warming, agriculture, the ozone, water use, etc). You are already being proactive in this area by reading this blog post. =)

2. To learn more, plan a library day and check-out books about the earth.

3. Read about the history of Earth Day from the perspective of the founder of Earth Day, former Wisconsin Governor and Senator Gaylord Nelson.

4. Go through some serious ‘Spring Cleaning’ and donate games, clothes, books, movies, etc. to your local Goodwill.

5. Wear green or brown. If you dig this, more companies are created earth-friendly clothing, check out this brief article to find out what popular brands H & M, Victoria’s Secret, Lucky Brand Jeans and others are doing to get green.

6. Cook a special Earth Day dinner featuring organic foods.

7. Have an Earth Day Arts and Crafts Day. Kaboose lists some great earth-friendly arts and crafts activities that both you and your children/students will enjoy that use fun materials such as egg cartons, laundry soap containers, rocks, toothbrushes, coffee grounds and more!

8. Rent a movie that covers earth-related topics. This site lists environmental movies based on a subject search from Free Willy to to Banana Split, March of the Penguins, UnNatural Causes and more for every movie interest.

9. Plan an Earth Day Observance among friends or in your community. Charge $2-5 and donate the funds to a local earth-friendly charity.

10. Plant trees and do a dedication.

11. Build a birdhouse with your kids and/or family to encourage the local bird population, using various recycled pieces.

12. Review my post “Going Green,” which lists 40+ ways to go green in the kitchen, restroom, when cleaning, around the house, when shopping, eating, for activities and in entertainment, etc.

13. Leave your car at home and bike or walk to work. Or, plan a carpool.

14. Check out this Earth Day 2008 Calendar to see if there is an event being held in your area.

15. Change your avatar or icon on any of the social media: Twitter, Facebook, in comments, etc. to green.

16. Check out The Earthday Network for more information and opportunities to have your voice heard regarding the politics surrounding Earth Day issues.

17. Register your Earth Day event with the current list of over 12,000 and growing!

18. Share your message on Google’s interactive Earth Day map!

Add your own Suggestion in the comments! =)

Greenwashing: What is it, how do we evaluate it, and what does it mean?

This post provides some answers to these questions and some points to ponder.

First, the term greenwashing is taken from the term whitewashing. Whitewashing means to hide, cover or conceal unpleasant facts or details, especially in a political context or to manipulate. According to the Greenwashing Index, Greenwashing is:

“It’s greenwashing when a company or organization spends more time and money claiming to be “green” through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact. It’s whitewashing, but with a green brush.”

Knowing this information, enter in the Greenwashing Index, promoted by EnviroMedia Social Marketing and University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. The purpose of the Greenwashing Index is “to educate consumers about how to “read” an ad and encourage them to decide for themselves if what they’re seeing is greenwashing.” The index hopes to curb the growth of greenwashing and encourage real environmental responsibility and change.

The index measures and scores advertising claims based on the following five criteria:

  1. The ad misleads with words.
  2. The ad misleads with visuals and/or graphics.
  3. The ad makes a green claim that is vague or seemingly unprovable.
  4. The ad overstates or exaggerates how green the product/company/service actually is.
  5. The ad leaves out or masks important information, making the green claim sound better than it is.

To detect greenwashing, Sourcewatch offers the following tips:

  1. Follow the money trail.
  2. Follow the membership trail.
  3. Follow the paper trail.
  4. Look for skeletons in the company’s closet.
  5. Test for access to information.
  6. Test for international consistency.
  7. Check how they handle their critics.
  8. Test for consistency over time.

As my previous post mentioned, the FTC began a workshop of hearings yesterday a year early about the growing buzz and concerns regarding green marketing. To listen to the FTC hearings about the, click here. The workshops could results in updating the FTC’s green guides, which outlines the FCC’s laws regarding environmental claims for advertiser, marketers and consumers. These guidelines were originally created in 1992. Though the green guides were updated in 1998, they haven’t been changed since.

Now the final piece: What does this mean to us….as social marketers?

Personally, I think evaluation tools are great, despite the lack of them and the lack of priority in evaluation processes. The evaluation step is one too many organization and marketing directors overlook or skip. I see the Greenwashing Index as another great evaluations tool for us, and I offer up the suggestion that perhaps we should have more such evaluation tools to help keep the private sector accountable and responsible. Doing such, I think, would increase our success in our social marketing endeavors.

More on evaluation procedures and steps in the next post. =)

Defining Green, Including the FTC

Nowadays, when someone says Green, what’s the first thing that pops in your mind?

…a color? a movement? a cause? a political party? earth? environmentalists? global warming? a marketing tactic? Al Gore? Recycling?

Being a full supporter of going green, I still want to stand back, observe and ask the question: In today’s world, how do we, you, define the word green?

…Even the FTC is struggling to answer this very question. Today, the FTC held its first green marketing workshop to discuss its green advertising regulations a YEAR early because of the growing buzz…and concern! Check out this article for more information about the meeting.

It’s interesting how the choice of diction creates images or perceptions in our minds. Green, or going green, is becoming a mantra for environmental movements and going green is the new trend of ’08…or was it the trend of ’07? Even the AMA (American Marketing Association) has adopted the movement and now acknowledges the concept ‘green marketing.’ GreenBiz, a green conscious information resources that tracks companies eco-friendliness, offers green marketing as one of their hot topics by offering features about the various shades of green that run in-style among us marketers.

However what does being green really mean? In 2006, this same question was asked in an article written by Brandweek titled: Companies Find It’s Not Easy Marketing Green. In the article, the authors state quote:

“Spiraling fuel prices and global warming fears have increasingly put environmental issues on the front page and in advertising efforts. But as more companies adopt these campaigns, consumers are growing increasingly confused over what it means to be “green,” making it harder to create effective environmental marketing efforts, according to a recently released study by Landor Associates, New York.

“Is it about the environment, organic food or ‘good-for-you’ living? … It could be about all of those things,” said Allen Adamson, managing director at Landor. “It is easy to say you are green, but consumers are skeptical. And because everyone wants to jump on the green bandwagon, all of a sudden it is noisy in this space, and it is hard to break through.”

The article continues offering statistics on how consumers are weary of the increasing levels of products, services and companies who claim to be green. Though it is an older article, the trend seems to escalate still today, just do a Google search for ‘green marketing’ and it becomes clear that the term continues to grow discussion, especially since the FTC even took notice.

  • So, how do we as social marketing break through the clutter?
  • What does this trend mean for us?
  • And, what does the word ‘green’ mean to you?

Feel free to share your thoughts. This discussion will be continued in my next post. =)

To get a sneak peak about the next post, read this article about greenwashing