Green is Universal: Guest Blogger, Jordan O'Malley

I was first introduced to the “Green is Universal” initiative while watching a Sunday Night Football game with my husband. Looking back, I couldn’t tell you the final score of the game but I’ll never forget SNF’s contribution to going green. At the end of “Football Night in America”, the studio went dark and was to remain that way through the end of the game. I could hear my husband mutter something along the lines of “I wonder how much electricity they use in the stadium” and “I’m sure all of the lights aren’t really off in the studio”. Then he went back to vocalizing his strong dislike for the Dallas Cowboys. The rest of the show went on as usual but with witty banter about going green and Bob, Cris and Keith looking a bit uncomfortable behind lit pillar candles.

I have to admit that I was skeptical about the actual impact turning off a few studio lights would have. The amount of electricity that NBC Universal uses every year in production of their programming would be a staggering figure. For the “Green is Universal” week of programming, NBC also flew Matt Lauer, Ann Curry and Al Roker to Greenland, Antarctica and Ecuador, respectively, to report on climate change and its effects. I won’t bore you with the carbon footprint of those trips, because the purpose was to raise awareness and educate. NBC has announced that they will offset the carbon footprint in mileage and fuel, which is over 500,000 miles. Beyond their week of green programming, NBC is taking other steps to reduce their impact on the environment through their commitment to green their operations worldwide, including LEED certification for new construction and “eco audits” to identify areas for environmental improvements.

Personally, the best outcome from NBC’s efforts is that of awareness. NBC isn’t going to convince me to buy a hybrid or live a carbon neutral life. As a concerned, yet non-superhero consumer, I’m making small changes on a daily basis. My husband convinced me to start recycling, but I had never considered not buying something because of the ridiculous amount of packaging it was in until recently. Who needs 12 individually-wrapped rolls of paper towels enclosed in another large piece of plastic? My current project is replacing my cleaning products with vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda. (Not together…I don’t want a lemon scented volcano.) And I use reusable shopping bags when I can remember to bring them into the store…

My hope is that NBC was able to reach others with a message that our small changes can add up to make a much larger impact and that viewers weren’t blinded by their own cynicism regarding NBC’s efforts. I know that the “Green is Universal” blog alone has provided me with invaluable information that my husband is already tired of hearing.

Jordan O'Malley is Marketing Coordinator at Tricycle.


R Michael Hendrix said...

Jordan, I appreciate your optimistic tone. I think you pose a good question: does creating awareness justify the eco and financial expense? And did the week really make a difference? The blogosphere is cynical (and I can easily fall into this mindset), I wonder what the "guy on the street" impression is?

I must add that though the small changes make a micro-difference and make us feel good, the real problems are bigger than individual action and I believe require us to redesign the way we live, play and travel. (I don't want to leave the impression that small changes are irrelevant because I believe they are.)

Caleb Ludwick said...

Great post! Unlike you, I am intrigued and inspired by the thought of a lemon-scented volcano :)

There is a new movement in "post-environmentalism" (shudder... why do academics and writers always have to name their movements?!!) that points out, quite rightly, that all of the small actions we are calling for will not be enough. In order to act in time to save the planet for our kids, we will have to invent new methods, new systems, new engines and tools that operate lightyears beyond our current capabilities with an impact smaller than we ever thought possible.

It's a daunting thought, but if someone had tried to explain to my great great great grandfather that we would drive on wheels powered by dirt-juice or that I'd be writing this "letter" on dots of light, he'd have spanked them and sent them to bed.

That said, I love your point about raising awareness. Twelve months ago, I thought it'd take years for Chattanooga to catch on to even the use of the word "green". Now, thanks to NBC and others, we all know what it means and that even as we wait for big innovations, heightened awareness means that our small changes in behavior can in fact accumulate to a big impact. Especially when the way we buy starts to impact the way that our marketing machine sells.

Thanks for your great post! Keep up the good...
Caleb Ludwick

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