Posts Tagged ‘environmental awareness’

Thanks to my friend Roupen, for calling my attention to this video, that was just featured today on Tim O’Reilly’s blog:


The black balloon certainly has the power to do more for our collective awareness of carbon pollution, than all I have read on the topic in a long time.

Part of what will help us transform awareness into action, is the internalization of such arresting images. I was thinking back on all the changes I have made over the last few months, and the trigger for those changes. Each time, it was not words that set me into action, but images instead, that I have learned to make mine over time:

  • No more beautiful green lawns for me, ever since I learned what it does to the environment. Now, whenever I see a lawn, I see an artificial green cover for what used to be a natural landscape of dirt, native grasses, and shrubs.
  • Something similar happened with my shopping expeditions. Last time, I went to Target, and passed by their latest Go Designer Collection, all I could see were not clothes to covet, but instead hideous man made fabrications, made in far away factories, and a cloud of pollution rising.
  • I have written before about the effect of ‘Synthetic Sea‘ video on my green conscience. It is now impossible for me to grab a plastic bag without feeling huge pangs of guilt, usually enough to discourage me and look for other alternatives.
  • Numbers can be powerful visuals as well. Not until I took the time to research, ‘The Top Three Green Actions to Reduce Your Ecological Footprint’, did I get a clear sense of priorities, and got motivated to take action and start looking for a bike.
  • Last, there is If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brow, flush it down

Advertising geniuses where are you? We need more images like the black balloon.

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On the fifth day of the Daily Footprint Project, I relied on my magic key, a bit more than usual.


Three meetings back to back in the morning, a trip to the gym, another trip to Whole Foods, and last an outing to the restaurant with Prad. I calculated. That’s 27 miles, all in the Prius. Each trip an average of five miles, not counting our night out. This is pretty typical for me. I conduct most of my business locally.

Then, comes the question. Why not bike? The answer is, I am considering the idea. Emphasis on ‘considering’. The truth is, I looooove my car. What is there not to like? The immediacy, the convenience, the privacy, the spaciousness, the experience of moving around in my little cocoon. I can get on the phone while I drive, listen to NPR, spread my stuff on the passenger seat. I don’t have to worry about the other cars so much, I am not as invisible as on a bike. I can cram a lot more activities in the day. I am free to go wherever, freeway if I please, don’t have to plan. No need for a disgraceful helmet. I can wear a dress without having to worry about it flying off. I had never thought about all the advantages, until now. Ask my sixteen year old daughter, car = freedom. Not what the green people want to hear, but the truth nevertheless.

Compare with biking. It has been a while since I have used a bike. I lost my bike in our move two years ago, and even before that, I hardly ever used it. I have to go back years to remember what it is like to bike in the outdoors. What is so good about biking, that would make me want to switch, aside from the obvious environmental benefits? Biking is also about freedom, just like cars. Only, it is a different kind of freedom. No need to refill with gas. No more being stuck in traffic. A bike is small and light, it can fit anywhere. Parking becomes a non issue. Biking can be another way to exercise. It is a way of getting in touch with the environment, the city, nature, neighborhoods. Biking is zen, as in simplicity.

Driving, biking. Two very different kinds of experiences. Driving has the advantage of already being a part of my life. I need a little nudge to make room for biking. That’s where city based initiatives like Velib‘ in Paris are so important. They help jump start the process. I have forgotten how good it feels to be on a bike. The other aspect I want to bring up, is the need for cities to create a safe environment for bikers. In my town, there are only a few routes I could take, where I would not have to worry about sharing the road with cars and trucks.

Daily Footprint Project
Daily Log
Day #5


flush toilet 2
wash face 2
brush teeth 2
wash hands 4
two showers at the gym
rinse dishes 2


electric toothbrush 4'
microwave tea 2’
microwave oatmeal 4’
laptop on all day
toast catherine


oatmeal with organic milk
organic apple
organic persimmons
cup of coffee at coffee shop
organic orange
left over noodles
dinner at restaurant


toilet paper
paper cup at coffee shop (almost forgot to include)
three newspaper wrappers
molded cream cheese in fridge
plastics (we take to recycling center now)


drive to 1st appointment 3miles
drive from 1st to 2nd appointment 5 miles
drive from 2nd to last appointment 4 miles
drive from last appointment to home ½ mile
drive to gym round trip 6 miles
drive to Whole Foods 4 miles
drive to restaurant 4 miles

Non food shopping



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