What are you trying to do with TheEnvironmentExcuse.org?
Average people are deeply worried about the environment but many have no idea what to do about it so they do nothing which makes them more anxious. WildAid wants to help people decrease carbon intensive lifestyles and alleviate eco-anxiety at the same time.
Our ad campaign idea is The Environment Excuse. With some humor, we ask you to use the best excuse there is, the environment excuse. Everybody loves an excuse to do or not to do certain things. Do you want to buy a bunch of stuff you don’t really need or want? Fly halfway around the world when it’s more relaxing to go somewhere much closer? Well now, you don’t have to be embarrassed to take home that doggy bag to minimize food waste or ride the bus on that date instead of driving your car. It’s better for the environment. The truth is it’ll make you feel better while doing better for our planet.
What is WildAid?
WildAid is a non-profit organization with a mission to protect wildlife from climate change, illegal trade and other imminent threats.
As climate change has emerged as an imminent threat to global wildlife, WildAid has leveraged its successful communications model to help consumers reduce personal carbon emissions and adopt sustainable lifestyles. Since 2012, campaigns featuring international celebrities have reached hundreds of millions of consumers and inspired tens of millions to make lifestyle changes via messaging on transportation, diet, plastics, home energy use, and more. With an unrivaled portfolio of celebrity ambassadors and a global network of media partners, WildAid leverages more than $300 million in annual pro-bono media.
Counting carbon seems really hard, is it?
Counting carbon is a lot like counting calories. Eating a candy bar is like driving ten miles – it has a clear and easily identifiable numerical impact. It’s even labeled on the packaging. Other things, like eating Grandma’s stew or insulating your home, have numerous complicated factors to quantify their impact. In the case of the former, we provide specific sources for our carbon numbers. In the latter, general impact is knowable but precision is not. We do our best to show our sources and methodologies for these cases without sacrificing our ability to clearly communicate the importance of those actions through numerical value.
We are committed to making updates as better sources and methodologies become available.
Are you guys a bunch of vegans who are trying to stop people from eating meat and drinking milk?
Nope. We are not mandating that you stop eating meat and dairy to participate in reducing your carbon emissions. You should feel comfortable choosing the climate actions that are right for you. The reason why meat and dairy come up often in climate conversations is because this type of food is very carbon and pollution intensive. It’s also a very personal choice and deeply connected to cultural norms, so it might not be the right place for you to start. If you select a meat or dairy related climate action and you don’t want to stop eating meat and dairy, maybe try reducing your meat and dairy consumption to zero for one or two days per week. If you don’t want to do that, you are free to choose any climate action you want to choose. This is about what works best in YOUR life and for you. Selections will look different for different people. There is no wrong place to start. We’re glad you’re trying! Thank you!
Are you a group of corporate shills trying to shift blame for climate change from government and big business onto the backs of working class Americans?
WildAid is an independent non-profit with a track record of successful communication on environmental issues and a four star rating on Charity Navigator. We are not corporate shills.
Achieving needed shifts to reduce global carbon emissions will require massive changes by governments, corporations and individuals together, no single sector can get us there on their own. Many organizations have expertise in lobbying and advocating governments and big businesses to change their ways – and we support that approach. However, one of our main areas of focus is in communicating complicated environmental topics to you, the individual consumer, and helping you be part of the solution. Solving climate change will require an “all of the above” approach and just as WildAid has found its role, we hope to help you find yours.
How did you come up with the 5 areas for engagement?
The 5 categories for engagement are from the UN IPCCC. Advocacy is arguably the most important category and involves you encouraging big business and our governments at the federal, state and local levels to do more on climate. You can track your emissions (using our carbon calculator) and reduce your individual emissions across 4 of the 5 categories: Home, Shopping, Food and Transportation. We recommend revisiting your calculator inputs for each of the 4 categories about every six months.
Do you think it is consumers’ responsibility to fix the climate problem?
The climate crisis is one of the biggest problems we have ever faced. There is no one solution that will fix the entirety of the problem. Instead, there are many necessary solutions. One of the most important solutions is through big business and government. We must put pressure on our government and big business to make changes to the systems that are currently in place. Yet, while that is necessary, it is also not sufficient to solve the crisis. We must also do our part as individuals.
The UN IPCC April 2022 report indicates that individual action can lead to 40-70% reduction in all carbon emissions by 2050. Average people doing their part is another component of the overall solution. With increased carbon literacy and a commitment to start lifestyle adjustments to reduce carbon emissions one at a time, people can do something every day to be part of the solution.
In turn, the daily mindfulness that comes from individual action can propel individuals to become more active in encouraging big business and government to move faster and do more to be part of the solution.
How does individual advocacy fit into solving the larger problem?
We as individuals must hold governments and big business accountable and strongly encourage them to make improvements faster. Our individual climate actions keep us engaged daily which provides a regular reminder of our progress! Our daily mindfulness should extend to committing to regular advocacy endeavors. Do whatever you’re comfortable doing whether it’s writing letters to your congressperson or pressuring corporations to use more sustainable packaging.
How can people really make a difference in solving climate change?
If you try, you can reduce your carbon emissions significantly. Each American emits roughly 32,000 pounds per year. If a single person were able to reduce emissions by 25% that would save 8,000 pounds annually. If just 1 million people did that, it would add up to 8 billion pounds of carbon. Eight billion pounds of carbon is equivalent to powering 570,000 US homes or pulling 735,000 combustion engine cars off the road. Together, we can make a huge difference!
There’s a lot of new technology, won’t that solve the carbon problem for us?
There is a lot of innovation happening right now which is fantastic. However, many of the climate technology “solutions” have not been proven to be effective over time. We would be foolish to believe that tech alone will save us because it simply can’t. We still need clean air and water, productive soil, and a rich diversity of plants and animals for a healthy planet. There is no silver bullet solution for the climate crisis. We need as many solutions as possible – an “all of the above” approach.
A lot of organizations are trying to change behavior. How is WildAid and TheEnvironmentExcuse different?
We need everyone working toward solutions and yes, there are many capable organizations doing just that. WildAid is unique in that we want to help people develop better carbon literacy which we believe is critical to making better lifestyle choices to reduce individual emissions. Our approach is simple. We help you understand carbon and then you choose what areas of your life for your focus. There’s no judgment, no right and wrong. Do what you can. Tackle lifestyle changes one at a time. When you’ve conquered one, move on to another, and another and another. Tell your friends and family and encourage them to become carbon literate and start tracking. Use the calculator every six months or so and benchmark where you are based on your lifestyle changes. Watch your emissions decrease. And eventually, we will start showing you the self-reported emissions reductions aggregated for all of our users.
The wealthier the person, the bigger their carbon emission. Why should I do anything, I’m not wealthy?
Everyone can and should do something. Climate solutions are all our responsibility.
What about BIPOC and/or low-income communities who disproportionately are exposed to greater amounts of pollution? Should they be asked to reduce their carbon emissions?
Everyone should feel empowered to take common sense climate actions to reduce their individual carbon emissions. We encourage participation by all groups in whatever category works for you. Participation in any or all of the five categories is welcome. Some of the best methods for living sustainably were and are practiced by people in BIPOC communities. Sometimes it has been to live more frugally and often to have a lighter step on our planet.
How do I decide which climate action to tackle first?
There is no right or wrong place to start. That said, look at the climate actions across Transport, Food, Shopping and Home. Which climate action looks to be the most doable with the least amount of your effort? That would be a good place to start. Give it a try for a month. If you’re able to stick with it and keep it up, choose another action to tackle. Then another and another.
Why are you including a carbon calculator and what are you doing with my inputs if I sign up to track them?
One of the best ways to understand and start to reduce your carbon emissions is by understanding how much you are emitting over time which means using a carbon calculator. Our lifestyle calculator is made by Doconomy, a Swedish company. We think it is the easiest to understand and we like how it breaks out carbon emissions across each of the 4 categories: home, food, shopping and transportation. Since it’s a Swedish company, the measurements are in metric tons which is not our standard measure in the US, that’s why we list everything in pounds. When you input your lifestyle choices for your benchmark emissions total, we save the information. When you come back and update your information, we show you your benchmark number so that you can see your progress. We intend to track emissions reductions over time so that we can use it as a metric to measure our campaign’s progress.