The U.S. EPA, Green For All, and Amplify Public Affairs presented BeGreen2013 – National Summit on Environmental Education and Sustainability on January 18, 2013. The event was streamed live which enabled me and several hundred other people to attend in addition to those present in Washington, D.C.
It was through a series of events and actions that I learned about BeGreen2013. Last year I read The Green Collar Economy, by Van Jones. I learned Mr. Jones had founded an organization called Green For All. That led me to learn about Green For All, a nonprofit organization focused on green jobs as a means to build a green economy and lift people out of poverty. It seemed like an excellent organization doing important work so I signed up for their email newsletter and put a link to Green For All on my website. Many months later, an email landed in my inbox about BeGreen2013.
BeGreen2013 Environmental Commitment Pledge
In person and online attendees were asked to make a commit to the environment by pledging to take 1 of 5 actions listed at BeGreen2013:
- Water: Install a rain barrel
- Air: Reduce carbon footprint by biking, walking, and taking public transportation rather than driving
- Energy: Stop using energy inefficient incandescent light bulbs in favor of LED or CFL alternatives
- Waste: E-cycle unwanted electronics
- Education: Organize a local environmental education event
BeGreen2013 Featured Speakers
The speakers were interesting, informative, and passionate about their work. I made a point of looking up and bookmarking their websites so I can learn more.
All the speakers were inspiring, but if I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with only one, it would be Lane, the middle school student and environmentalist. I enjoyed hearing about the water project she is doing in her community for a school science project. We can learn a lot and gain new perspectives by listening to and talking with kids and young adults.
- The Honorable Lisa P. Jackson, Administrator, U.S. EPA
- Shedonna Alexander, Executive Director, Green House Foundation
- Phaedra Ellis–Lamkins, CEO, Green For All
- Dr. Ivor Horn, Children’s National Medical Center
- Gabriel Mandujano, Founder, Wash Cycle Laundry
- Lane McCaslin, Environmentalist, Middle School Student
- Lamman Rucker, Actor & Environmentalist
- Laura Turner Seydel, Environmentalist & Chair, Captain Planet Foundation
- Diane Wood, Executive Director, National Environmental Education Foundation
BeGreen2013 Presentation Highlights
The featured speakers participated in one of two panels, shared information about themselves and their organizations, and fielded questions from the audience. Below are a few things I took away from the presentation.
Parents will do for their children what they will not do for themselves, and children can influence their parents. Educating parents and children about the intersection between health and the environment empowers them to take action for better health. Knowledge is power.
We vote with our wallets.
The environment shouldn’t be viewed as a choice just for the wealthy. Economy or environment isn’t a choice. The environment is central to the planet and jobs.
One of the presenters said we need to recycle people, an odd and apt term for helping parolees, veterans, those with disabilities, and others obtain training and education so they can transition into new productive jobs. We shouldn’t waste people.
Community health and safety needs sometimes conflict with jobs.
Environmental education in schools is important and can be accomplished through a variety of programs including science, art, and school gardens. Kids don’t want to be talked to, they want hands on curriculum. Involve tech savvy kids through technology. Projects in the community enable kids to participate in solving a problem, see the results, and learn they can change something for the better.
Corporations can and should conduct environmental education within their organizations and build environmental actions into day-to-day operations. What is good for the environment is often good for the bottom line, and can enhance employee retention as well as attract new employees.
Listen; start where someone else is not where you want them to be.
- Take the Pledge at BeGreen2013.com (Link not active as of 02/09/15)
- Follow the Conversation on Twitter #BeGreen2013