WATCH: LA Get Off Oil Day

June 24th, 2010

It may not have drawn the 2 million-strong crowd witnessed at the Los Angeles Lakers Parade the day before, but the LA Get Off Oil Day rally was a huge success in its own right. Organized by Josh and Rebecca Tickell to celebrate the release of the award-winning documentary Fuel on DVD — not to mention protest the BP oil spill — the event was a veritable who’s who of the green world.

Check out the eco leaders, policymakers, and green celebs in attendance in the video, above, and get inspired to head to the next big rally for clean energy in New Orleans on June 28! (Or at least make a donation to the cause — click here to learn how.)

–Jennifer Grayson

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Scrambling for a last-minute present for Father’s Day? I could offer up a host of green gift suggestions, like a Nalgene BPA-free reusable water bottle customized with a photo skin of you and your dad; or a six-pack of beer from his favorite sustainable brewery. Both are great, but here’s the thing: The most appreciated — not to mention sustainable — gift you can offer this Sunday isn’t something I can add to a Top 10 Eco-Friendly Father’s Day Gifts list.

No, it’s something harder to come by in the tech-crazed, never-stop-for-a-moment world we live in, and that’s time. Undistracted time. (With you, of course.)

That’s why I’m loving the Offlining campaign, which will officially launch this Father’s Day. Founders Mark DiMassimo and Eric Yaverbaum are urging fathers to go BlackBerry/iPhone/laptop-free for the day and spend a little old-fashioned quality time with their families.

DiMassimo and Yaverbaum are marketing gurus by trade, so it’s no surprise that the ads and e-cards promoting this No-Device Day and others to come are total genius. Check them out (above, and below):



Inspired to go beyond Father’s Day? Take the Offlining Pledge and commit to 10 no-device dinners between now and Thanksgiving Day 2010. I, for one, will be signing up, though no thumb-twisting will be involved: I’ve been BlackBerry-free since Earth Day.

–Jennifer Grayson

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If you have plans to be in Los Angeles tomorrow, you won’t want to miss the Women of the Green Generation Conference. Founded just one year ago by musician-with-a-vision Kris Wiley, Women of the Green Generation brings together LA-area women interested in starting or expanding their eco-driven businesses. The green networking group has proven such a hit, in fact, that it’s since attracted coverage on CNN, the LA Times, and numerous green lifestyle blogs.

The all-day event at the eco-luxe Evo South in downtown LA will give attendees the chance to check out a slew of sustainable products and services, get free mini spa treatments, do some green networking, and sit in on a number of thought-provoking panel discussions. Scheduled speakers include yours truly (I’ll be moderating a panel on environmentalism and the media), as well as:

Over 300 women and 50 green businesses are already expected to attend, so snap up your ticket before it’s too late (space is limited). Oh, and while it’s technically an event for women, men are welcome!

Hope to see you there!

–Jennifer Grayson

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The film industry may be one of the worst polluters, but it looks like some Hollywood studios, at least, are making an effort to improve environmental practices at the local level. Check out these photos taken by loyal Red, White, and Green reader MT, who lunched at the commissary on the Disney lot in Burbank, CA, last week:




Evidently, the Disney Green Workspace program has been in effect since April 2008, and includes a number of different initiatives in addition to the commissary waste reduction effort: Individual plastic water bottles have been eliminated from backstage operations and offices, employees are encouraged to recycle cell phones and other electronics in addition to the standard paper and plastic, and a minimum of 30 percent recycled-content paper is used for everyday printing and copying.

These steps may seem small in comparison to the massive amounts of greenhouse gas emissions and waste generated by The Walt Disney Company’s theme parks, resorts, and cruise ships — in addition to the aforementioned carbon cost of the movies it makes — but Disney has big-picture planet preservation plans: The company has said it will halve its emissions and theme park–related garbage by 2013.

No word yet on how Mickey and Minnie are personally joining in the eco efforts.

–Jennifer Grayson

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[Watch video on MSNBC]

I’ve decided on my Earth Day resolution: I’m giving up my BlackBerry. It’s not to further reduce my energy consumption, though that is important — the International Energy Agency estimates that increased demand for energy from mobile devices could contribute to a doubling of CO2 emissions by 2030. Nope, it’s about renewing my appreciation for the beautiful world we live in, something I’ve been ignoring lately in my day-to-day life (I’m too busy checking my email).

Drastic? Perhaps. But the idea seemed to resonate with Dylan Ratigan over at MSNBC; I appeared on his show yesterday (see above) to talk about my Earth Day plans, which I had written about more thoroughly in this Huffington Post column.

I could go on with a longer Earth Day post — there’s a lot of exciting stuff happening out there today, like our National Parks being open for free all week — but I think I’m going to take my own advice and go enjoy the great outdoors (as much as I can, anyway; it is still a workday). Hope you can, too.

Happy Earth Day!

–Jennifer Grayson

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[Watch Oceans trailer on MovieSet]

How will I be spending Earth Day? Well, that all depends on how much work I can get done between now and tomorrow morning. You see, if I have my druthers, I’ll be at the 10 am showing of Disneynature’s Oceans, cherry Icee and Jujubes in hand. (Make that organic home-popped popcorn and a Klean Kanteen of ice water smuggled into my canvas tote bag.)

The film, which opens tomorrow, promises a breathtakingly beautiful look at all five of our planet’s oceans — including a first-time look at some of the otherworldly creatures that live there, thanks to the latest in high-tech underwater filming technologies and over seven years of painstaking work from directors Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud.

That the movie is being released on Earth Day only highlights how blue, is in fact, the new green: It’s our oceans that are already starting to realize the detrimental effects of climate change, what with acidification threatening to wipe out many shellfish and corals completely in the coming decades; it’s our oceans that will no longer be a source of food for coming generations if we continue our current rates of overfishing.

–Jennifer Grayson

Do this now: See Oceans during opening week, and Disneynature will make a donation from the sale of your ticket to help protect the threatened coral reefs of the Caribbean. Click here to read more.

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Photo via Flickr: Kevin Krejci

Photo via Flickr: Kevin Krejci

If you haven’t played a prank yet today, here’s a cool one that’s for a good cause: As part of its effort to educate Americans about the problem of plastic pollution, California clean water group Heal the Bay has developed an April Fool’s Day app that allows you to “trash” a friend’s Facebook page (or any other web page, for that matter) with floating images of plastic bags.

To participate, visit the campaign’s website to send an email tease to unsuspecting friends and co-workers. When recipients click on a link embedded in your email message (“Dude, I trashed the front page of your Twitter”), the targeted page quickly and harmlessly fills with images of single-use plastic bags.

Those plastic bags will be gone from your friend’s web page tomorrow, but unfortunately the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — a massive floating landfill in the Pacific Ocean comprised of 3.5 million tons of plastic trash — won’t be disappearing anytime soon. (Oh, and there’s one in the Atlantic Ocean, too.) That’s because plastic doesn’t biodegrade, it photodegrades — meaning it breaks up into miniscule little bits that are then ingested by marine life (and in turn ingested by us when we eat those fish).

Fortunately, there’s something we can do to drastically cut down on the amount of plastic pollution that reaches our oceans. It’s called a plastic bag tax. Washington, DC, passed a 5-cent tax in January, and since then the city’s plastic bag usage has dropped from 22 million to 3 million a month.

–Jennifer Grayson

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Last month, a Gallup poll revealed that the number of Americans who doubt the existence of global warming seems to be increasing — from 31 percent to 48 percent since 1997. Since then, there’s been a lot of speculation as to why this is happening, especially in light of the overwhelming consensus among climatologists (97 percent) that man-made climate change is occurring before our very eyes.

How is it that a near-majority of Americans now hold the same point of view as a mere 3 percent of scientists? The numbers just don’t add up. Clearly, there is a disconnect between the hard scientific evidence and the information reaching the American public.

So, who’s to blame for this broken line of communication? Is it the Fox News talking heads, with their snowstorm-fueled attacks on global warming? Is it Sarah Palin, with her pronouncement that recent climate change evidence is nothing more than “snake oil science“?

None of the above. Unfortunately, we’re dealing with a much more benign, insidious force: the friendly TV weatherman.

According to The New York Times, climate change skepticism is rampant among TV weather forecasters, regardless of their affiliated news channel:

A study released on Monday by researchers at George Mason University and the University of Texas at Austin found that only about half of the 571 television weathercasters surveyed believed that global warming was occurring and less than a third believed that climate change was “caused mostly by human activities.”More than a quarter of the weathercasters in the survey agreed with the statement, “Global warming is a scam,” the researchers found.

This is a real problem, considering that the majority of Americans rely on their weather forecasters — not scientific journals — for their information about climate change.

Click here for the full article.

–Jennifer Grayson

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From left: Tapped producer Sarah Olson and director Stephanie Soechtig, at the Los Angeles launch of the Get Off the (H2O) Bottle Tour

From left: 'Tapped' director Stephanie Soechtig and producer Sarah Olson, at the Los Angeles launch of the Get Off the Bottle Tour

If you didn’t decide this past World Water Day to ditch the plastic water bottle once and for all, you’ll get a second chance: Stephanie Soechtig, director of the award-winning bottled-water-industry exposé Tapped, is currently on a 30-day/30-city cross-country “Get Off the Bottle” tour to — you guessed it — help wean Americans off their Aquafina. Catch her in a city near you, and you can trade in a plastic water bottle for a brand-new, reusable stainless steel Klean Kanteen — provided you take the pledge to reduce your bottled water consumption.

By traveling in a translucent truck that will display the empty water bottles she collects from the public along the way, Soechtig hopes to draw attention to how our individual decision to drink bottled water, collectively, can have a profoundly negative impact on the environment. And profound is the key word here: Americans add 30 million plastic water bottles to our landfills every day. This, in a country where we have access to high quality, safe, and practically free tap water. One billion people in the rest of the world don’t.

Need more convincing? See a free screening of Tapped when Soechtig visits a city near you, or check out The Story of Bottled Water — an amazingly eye-opening short movie from the makers of The Story of Stuff.

Click here for the Get off the Bottle tour schedule.

–Jennifer Grayson

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Photo via Flickr: Gonzalo Baeza Hernández

Thanks to a technical issue that the geniuses over at Sprint can’t seem to figure out, I haven’t been able to receive emails on my BlackBerry for the past two days. For some, this would inspire a state of panic, but for me it’s been sheer bliss. You may be surprised to hear this, considering I author this blog and am fairly active on Twitter, but I’m actually a bit of a Luddite. I long for the days when we weren’t accessible at every moment, when face-to-face conversations weren’t constantly being interrupted by an incoming text, when we could just focus on the task at hand and the trees around us and not have to feel so darn preoccupied all the time.

Evidently, I’m not the only one who needs a technology break once in a while: Today marks the first National Day of Unplugging. The day is the creation of Reboot, a nonprofit comprised of influential Jewish thought-leaders. While the “unplugging” — which will begin at sundown tonight and end sundown Saturday — also underscores the Jewish Sabbath, the concept (called the “Sabbath Manifesto“) is pretty all-inclusive.

From USA Today :

“The last few years, I’ve had a growing feeling that my connection to technology was getting to be more like an addiction,” says Dan Rollman, 36, of Brooklyn, N.Y., who came up with the Manifesto idea. He says he’s never been a particularly religious person, but the idea of the Sabbath always appealed to him.

So why write about a day of technology rest on an environmental blog? Well, it turns out that the principles of the Manifesto are pretty close to the prescript for a green life. Among them: nurture your health, connect with loved ones, get outside, avoid commerce, and give back. And let’s not forget the actual environmental impact that a day of technology rest could have on the planet, since information and communication technology contributes to two percent of global CO2 emissions — that’s as much as the aviation industry.

Read more about the National Day of Unplugging, via USA Today and The New York Times.

–Jennifer Grayson

Do this now: What else? Unplug!

Related post:
Take a technology break

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