When Theodor Seuss Geisel, whom you probably know as Dr. Seuss, set out to write “The Lorax,” he wanted to give kids a reason to care about the environment. Having witnessed the destruction of natural areas near his home in La Jolla, California, Geisel was deeply concerned for future generations and decided to make an appeal to them through a story. The problem was, he didn’t want it to sound like propaganda. He genuinely wanted the public to accept the work and share its message.
Noticing Geisel was feeling discouraged about the daunting task, Geisel’s wife suggested they travel to Kenya for a vacation and inspiration. The story goes that it wasn’t until Geisel saw a herd of elephants pass before him that his writer’s block vanished, and the now-famous fable, “The Lorax,” was born.
A true believer in the power of children’s literacy, Dr. Seuss also envisioned a future where people cared deeply about the environment and found ways to preserve it.
Earth Day is April 22. Dr. Seuss and the Lorax would be happy to hear that this year’s Earth Day theme is tackling literacy and building awareness of the important role science plays in the preservation of our planet’s natural resources.
To mark the occasion, cities all over the world are joining Washington DC in hosting a “March for Science.” Guests of honor include some big names, including Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye (best known as the Science Guy to those of us who grew up watching PBS) and Megan Smith, former Vice President of Google and 3rd U.S. Chief Technology Officer and Assistant to the President under Barack Obama.
You can find out if your city is participating in this monumental march here. But if you aren’t able to make it, guilt-trip not! Science is on your side.
Science has certainly made it possible to live a little greener in the everyday. Technological advancements, which were once considered the antithesis of environmental progress, are now creating new ways to preserve our natural resources and reduce waste.
In Britain, for example, a television series called “The Great British Property Scandal” created an app to address the issue of approximately one million unoccupied homes. Users can locate the property on a map, enter the address, and even take a photo of the property to report it to the council. The idea is to put a roof over the heads of the millions people who don’t have a home, all while saving useful structures from going to waste.
Last year, a young man from the Netherlands tested the prototype of his invention that went above and beyond any prior efforts to remove part of the plastics and waste polluting our oceans. His work, The Ocean Cleanup, uses floating barriers attached to the seafloor to collect plastics moving with the ocean’s currents. The project predicts the technology could clean up half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and is unveiling a major phase on May 11.
Green-up, Go Digital
Many businesses are replacing the antiquated systems that rely on paper records to preserve natural resources and improve efficiency. In other words, it’s 2017, people. Companies can be successful without turning into some kind of Seussian antagonist.
There’s a wide variety of ways to “green-up” your company, like using renewable energy and environmentally friendly cleaning products, encouraging employees to cycle, carpool, or walk to work, recycling waste, and being more conscientious of the types of materials you use for your product or service. But what you may not immediately consider are the myriad of applications designed to replace wasteful systems or simply make doing green business much easier.
It’s not a bad idea to start with a little literacy of your own. For a lesson on global warming, Earth-Now is an app by NASA that is meant to teach about the recent effects of climate change by providing visualizations of data from Earth Science satellites. And the Oroeco app helps you better understand the impact of your daily habits on the environment in an effort to reduce your carbon footprint.
One of the easiest systems any company can update is timesheets. Making the move from piles of paper to digital timesheets allows for simple time tracking without the mess. Surprisingly, automated timesheets can make a difference to the environment. TSheets customers alone tracked the equivalent of 275,000 weekly timesheets in 2016. That’s 28.7 tons of paper!
Mr. Geisel may have never envisioned a world like the one we live in now. The threat of climate change, the loss of species, and our diminishing resources are almost unfathomable. But one thing that would have likely inspired him is an event like Earth Day 2017. With technological advancements come a means to make a difference, however small. And with literacy and awareness comes care. Together they can repair the planet, one Truffula Tree at a time.