Organized religion in America is now stepping up to speak out on the importance of addressing global climate change. Through words and actions, many denominations are working to persuade their members to take private and public actions to protect the environment we were given. Here is a sample, courtesy of Deep Conversion Communications.
Prudence does not mean failing to accept responsibilities and postponing decisions; it means being committed to making joint decisions after pondering responsibly the road to be taken, decisions aimed at strengthening that covenant between human beings and the environment, which should mirror the creative love of God, from whom we come and towards whom we are journeying.
—Pope Benedict XVI, World Day of Peace Message, December 2007
If the protection of the environment involves costs, they should be justly distributed, taking due account of the different levels of development of various countries and the need for solidarity with future generations.
—Pope Benedict XVI, World Day of Peace Message, December 2007
Temple B’nai Abraham (TBA) in Livingston has demonstrated a commitment to the environment as strong as any congregation in New Jersey.
* Through GreenFaith’s Lighting the Way program, TBA installed a large solar array on two sections of its roof, was dedicated at a celebration on the eve of the holiday of Sukkoth in October, 2006. Learn more about Temple B’Nai Abraham’s solar experience.
* During a recent renovation, the Temple insisted on installing highly energy-efficient lighting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs.
* TBA installed a dishwasher and made the switch from disposable cups and plates to china, reducing the amount of solid waste they generate on a daily basis. The Temple also worked with a GreenFaith-recommended waste management firm to increase its recycling efforts.
* B’nai Abraham became the first synagogue in New Jersey to sponsor a community-supported farm, with a number of TBA members and residents in the surrounding community purchasing shares in an organic farm and receiving fresh, local produce during the summer and fall.
From the Evangelical Environmental Network http://www.creationcare.org What the Bible Says
Summary: Addressing global warming is a new way to love our neighbors, to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, to protect and care for “the least of these” as if they were Jesus Christ himself.
Christianity Today Editorial: “the scientific data have grown increasingly solid … The real danger is to wait until the data are undeniable … With each passing year, we lose the ability to slow and minimize the effects of global warming. This is our Father’s world, and it is filled with our brothers and sisters. Christians should make it clear to governments and businesses that we are willing to adapt our lifestyles and support steps toward changes that protect our environment.”
Government and environmental group leaders involved in setting climate policy would be wise to reach out to these faith-based organizations to help fill the massive education gap among most Americans about “what’s next” to fight climate change at home and abroad.
At EnviroMedia, we’re fortunate to meet a lot of people with great stories as we work to improve public health and the environment. With the help of our staff, I’ve compiled a top 10 list for 2008 of our best ‘make-a-difference’ moments.
10. Helping E. Texas school kids post-hurricane Ike
Four of the elementary schools in Beaumont ravaged by the hurricane received a fun, interactive tobacco prevention outreach program from the cartoon DUCK mascot, courtesy of the Texas Education Agency. One of the school counselors tearfully expressed her thanks and said “No-one does anything for these kids. Thank you for coming.”
9. Climate Change Diplomacy with Brazil while lost on a train in Poland
A few weeks ago, four EnviroMedians (author included) thought they were starting their journey from Poznan, Poland back to Austin. They were leaving a successful UN Climate Change Conference, boarding a direct train for Berlin, Germany. Or so we thought. Turns out we boarded was headed 200 miles in the wrong direction, northwest to the Polish-Germany border.
Another UN delegate named Milton Noguiera, from Brazil, made the same mistake we did. He saved us by helping us figure out how to catch a 1.5 hour shuttle from the Polish border to our intended destination.
While riding the train through Poland, Milton shared his opinions on what Brazilians thought about America and our reluctance to fight climate change. We spoke about Brazil’s success of using sugarcane ethanol to fuel 90 percent of their vehicles, and also their country’s terrible problem of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. He asked us about American politics and the strength of environmental groups here.
8. Tackling Dipping and Racism in West Texas
We saw lots of young men throwing their cans of Skoal into the trash, in order to receive a free “Spit-It-Out” hat at the Future Farmers of America convention in Lubbock. This is the newest tobacco prevention campaign for the Texas Department of State Health Services. Everyone loves the new hard-hitting jackelope TV ad we produced.
A young, white teen from San Angelo had his horizons broadened by interacting with our staff/talent emcee, Terrell, who is African-American, “Mr. Terrell, I always heard black people were cool, but I never knew it was true until I met you!”
7. Empowering Gulf Coast Families post-Katrina and pre-Ike
The State’s “Ready or Not?” campaign seemed to give people an outlet to talk about their emergency preparedness experiences. Our ad campaign and helpful Web site drew lots of people to our outreach events at dozens of Wal-Mart and H-E-B stores across the state. Many people shared stories of 2005 Hurricane Katrina evacuations, house fires, heart attacks, etc. This campaign empowered thousands of people to be prepared when Hurricane Ike crisis hit the Galveston area earlier this year.
6. Fewer Deaths Among Lake Travis Partiers
Our crew of trained lifeguards heard lots of, “Throw me a t-shirt!” when they visited Devil’s Cove on Lake Travis this summer. Not until they answered some trivia questions about water safety. This year, we added outreach to Spanish-speaking visitors. LCRA’s “Nobody’s Waterproof” campaign continues to help reduce the number of drowning deaths on the state’s most deadliest lake.
5. Litter Force K-900 Mascot Dog-napped in Houston
On April 5, our Don’t Mess with Texas road tour crew went out to their van parked in a Houston hotel parking lot, only to find it was vandalized. Even worse: K-900, the kids’ favorite mascot of the Litter Force, was stolen! Our media relations team quickly turned lemons into lemonade, getting the full story about the new elementary school litter prevention program on almost every TV station in Houston (which is a huge coup). The culprit was never caught (had to be the “Evil Trash”) but that publicity led to greater awareness of the problem and the new Texas Department of Transportation program.
4. Drought Reinforces Importance of Water Conservation
“I saw your ads, and now I know my water comes from Lake Lavon,” one man told our outreach team at a Lowe’s store in Plano. Our team convinced him to buy drought-tolerant plants, and to check his sprinler system for leaks. Thanks to some trendy new Water IQ give-a-ways, we’ve helped make conserving water the cool thing to do in many parts of Texas.
Central Texas faced a year-long extreme drought. Through years of bridge-building between local governments, we convinced the Lower Colorado River Authority, city of Austin and city of Cedar Park to collaborate on the Water IQ campaign. This year, they promoted new, consistent lawn watering rules for the region.
3. West Coast Expansion: New Office in Portland, Oregon
After meeting with dozens of business, government and environmental leaders, we determined there was a great need for our social marketing services out West. We chose Portland, Oregon to mine for new business opportunities. We were so impressed with the work of the Oregon Environmental Council, we made a sizable donation to the non-profit group. After just seven weeks, our initial prospecting paid off, winning two competitive contracts, one promoting alternative fuels for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, and another promoting healthy food choices to food stamp recipients through the Oregon State University’s Extension Service.
2. Reducing Greenhouse Gases, One Home at a Time
Thanks to a huge wave of awareness about climate change, and some unique advertising strategies, our clients at Green Mountain Energy announced they had a 70 percent increase in sales of renewable power in 2007. We also helped them expand to South Texas by producing their first-ever ads targeted to Spanish-speaking Texans.
In 2007 these facilities generated more than 319,000 MWh of new renewable energy. All of these facilities together have been responsible for avoiding the use of more than 530,000 tons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Green Mountain Energy should also be commended for top honors for its customer satisfaction rating in a survey of electricity competitors by J.D. Power & Associates.
1. Fighting HIV with Family Portraits
A mother of 7 was able to get a family portrait for the first time ever. She’s never been able to afford it before. Thanks to “Fight HIV”, a DSHS outreach event at Kwaanza Fest in Dallas, it was free.
2008 Was our Best Year at EnviroMedia
Working with the University of Oregon, giving birth to the Greenwashing Index (www.greenwashingindex.com) was risky last January, but it was well worth it: Together we catapulted our national reputation through news stories in TIME and Newsweek magazines, on NBC’s TODAY Show and dozens of other media outlets.
We also gave birth this year to a new subsidiary company, Green Canary Sustainability Consulting. We have great hopes for consulting with new corporate clients to help them get their green house in order and improve their own sustainability efforts before they could even greenwash.
We once again saw the excitement that makes EnviroMedia special. We headed off to Poznań, Poland as delegates at the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, establishing new business contacts, blogging for multiple media outlets and enhancing our credibility as one of a handful of U.S. business leaders in attendance. We represented the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development.
WALKING THE TALK
Our staff did all of this amazing work, while picking up hundreds of pounds of litter on three roadside locations in Travis and Hays counties, six times throughout the year, organizing a building-wide e-waste recycling collection on America Recycles Day, distributing thousands of dollars in cash to strangers for the seventh annual Pay It Forward 9/11, and delivering 750 warm lunches to seniors through Meals on Wheels.
Yes, all of this, doing good for the world, while having the best financial year in our 12-year company history. We are all truly blessed with great clients and great staff.
In my first post-college job, I helped plan the “Thanks for Giving,” event, a dinner that brought non-profit volunteers together to tell them how much we appreciated their envelope-stuffing, crowd shuttling, fundraising and committee planning. This was back when my business partner, Valerie Davis, and I worked at the UT Ex-Students’ Association in the late 1980s (where we met as office partners). Thanking those volunteers didn’t cost that much money, and didn’t take that much effort. But it kept their spirit alive, and it kept their volunteerism alive.
Volunteers from EnviroMedia and Americorps removed invasive plants at Zilker Park.
So on this Thanksgiving Day, I’d like to say THANKS, to all those who volunteer their time for environmental groups across the world. Some people do the hard work, like picking up trash for Adopt-A-Highway or planting trees in sand dunes to stop erosion.
Protestors from all across the country, outside the Presidential Summit on Energy
Some volunteers focus on advocacy. At the federal, state and local government level, there are thousands of industry lobbyists for every one paid environmental lobbyist. The grassroots phone-banking, letter-writing, petition-gathering, sign-waving and watchdog environmentalists are growing in ranks, but all of them work hard, with very little thanks except knowing their individual efforts may truly improve the world we live in.
And many others only have time to write a check. Or donate food to a food bank. Thanks to them as well. There is no question in the latest green movement that environmental groups have benefited from increased donations. If you’re one of them, don’t forget about them just because times are tough. These few groups are working tirelessly to implement changes to our environment and energy policies that will make life better for future generations. At our company, we provide automatic pay deductions to support Earth Share, a centralized way to support hundreds of green non-profits.
Happy Thanksgiving from all the staff of EnviroMedia Social Marketing and Green Canary Sustainability Consulting!