Learning to bag the bags

I was surfing around at the Webby awards and found that our Peyton Manning video that we shot with CAA was nominated for best video piece in sports (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nKMKW4X8RE&eurl=http%3A%2F%25).

Pretty cool. I looked around to see what else was nominated, what was popular, what was working. I happened upon a video of Edward Norton who was in a community service ad pitching for us to stop using plastic and paper bags (http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/player/environment/going-green-environment/conservation-in-action/norton-bag-env.html) .

Although ours was better, it piqued my interest. Some interesting facts. There is a floating island the size of Texas in the ocean and it's made up entirely of plastic waste. Bags, bottles, and all the plastic that is around us. Texas! That's crazy. But even that piece didn't really hit home, it just sat there marinating.

A week ago I posted a video on the story of stuff, which was excellent and somehow with multiple pings the message started hitting home. My eyes creaked open. Our culture is built on unnecessary waste to support our lazy convenience. And now I see it everywhere, and my veil of ignorance has been lifted. It is astounding how blind I have been.

Here's my work day of unnecessary waste/convenience and what I have done about it:

1. Woke up, alarm blazing and on my way to the shower tripped over two boxes from clothing shipped from the Gilt group. Emailed them about order consolidation and benefits to them.

2. Noticed the toilet paper was out so I unwrapped a roll from the paper in the 8 pack plastic bag. Wrapping in a wrapping? Unneeded but I have no influence

3. Recycling was overflowing, so I took it out. Will not tell my dinner guests to drink less wine. It was too much fun. And no wine boxes. Alas.

4. Got on the bus with my copy of the NY Metro, which I threw out 5 minutes later. Now reading from the NY Times app for the iPhone. Won’t take another NY Metro.

5. Ordered my standard breakfast from Ruthy’s Deli, and refused the paper bag and the excessive napkins that came with it. Just hand over the egg white sandwich.

6. Drank 4 large green teas all out of my reusable OXO coffee cup using bulk tea leaves rather than packaged teabags.

7. Went to Chelsea Thai for lunch, told them it was to stay when it was to go and took the plate upstairs and returned it at the end of the day.

8. My boss asked me if I wanted a bottle of water and I responded by telling him the environmental impact of shipping water in plastic bottles. Switched the office to a Brita filter.

9. Got two bottles of wine for a dinner party, they gave me a bag, a plastic netting for one of the bottles and a cardboard separator. Told them to bag the bag and I would carry the bottles in my laptop bag.

10. Went to Whole Foods to pick up 2 (would be double) bags of ingredients for dinner, bought recycled bags for future use.

11. Got home and saw a ton of marketing mails. Ripped up 6 or 7 without even looking. Went online and removed myself and my mom from Direct Marketing Association Mail Preference List (https://www.dmachoice.org/dma/member/regist.action) and the Do Not Call List (https://www.donotcall.gov/) while I was at it. Here are some other tips (http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs4-junk.htm)

No real inconvenience (time loss 3 mins), yet I sound like a fluffy, tree hugging radical. But simple steps saved a newspaper, 2 sets of excessive napkins, 4 plastic cups, 4 tea bags, 1 styro foam food container, 10 bottles of water daily in the office, 1 plastic netty thing, a piece of cardboard, 6 pieces of mail and at least 7 bags.

Now that’s a lot for a single day. Multiply that by 250 million people and 365 days (91,250,000,000). No wonder we have a problem.

All I ask is that you just look around at all the waste in your day. You may start down the same path as I have. I like my luxuries as much as everyone else. But convenience isn’t all that it is cracked up to be if it comes with so much garbage.

It's not what you say, it's how you say it

I continue to be reminded in every day conversations both in business and socially that how you demonstrate the idea is almost as important as the idea itself. And with the struggles we have in healthcare, the economy and the environment, it's almost impossible to see the big picture.

Is 1 trillion dollars enough of a stimulus package? Does cutting 1.5% of health care cost growth save the system? How important is domestic recycling to the problem of waste management (Answer: domestic waste is 1/70th of industrial waste).

As annoying as the UPS commercials are, they do show the power of graphical teaching through video. Here's an even better example, one that predated UPS's chalkboard that brilliantly explains the environmental challenges we face.


Einstein once responded to a woman's questions about math, "Do not worry about your difficulties with math. I assure you mine are greater." The focus being on the untold complexity of Einstein's understanding. Instead, think about the relative simplicity of the woman's mathematical model.

With ideas as groundbreaking as we are throwing around, how do you let people build simple, comprehensible understandings of things that are complex beyond their reach?

Perot did it with chicken farming in Arkansas. Gore did it with global warming. And TED does it with everything. Shouldn't we be creating video presentations rather than press releases and press conferences?

PS Let me reiterate check out http://storyofstuff.com/