Saving The World One Act At A Time

Environmental Awareness, Action Now

Learning about ways to help the environment is one thing. Turning that knowledge into action is another thing altogether. David Gershon understands this and has developed a plan to move people on to this next step by turning their awareness into action.

Gershon’s Global Action Plan for the Earth (GAP) involves a six-month program to bring households into environmental balance. The plan also entails forming eco-teams among groups of 10 or 12 neighbors, friends or family members to work together in completing the program.

forest conservation and climate change mitigation

“Earth Day woke everyone up,” said Gershon. “But questions arose — ‘Where do I start and does what I do make a difference?’– so I built this program aimed at those questions.”

Gershon has written a workbook outlining various ways households can make a difference. The book is broken into six different sections, each describing a month’s worth of tasks to help the environment.

During the first month, an eco-team looks at reducing their garbage. Month two, homeowners consider water efficiency and delve into changing both plumbing fixtures and water-wasting habits. Other topics include boosting home energy efficiency, improving transportation practices, being an environmental consumer and, during the sixth and final month, empowering others.

During a pilot program, 500 U.S. households went through the program, Gershon said. Another 500 are in the middle of the GAP workbook now, and currently programs are being developed in Australia, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the Soviet Union and Great Britain.

The final piece in GAP’s overall program involves feedback. Results from the actions of all eco-teams will be collected and compiled. To that end, Cray Research, a Minneapolis-based computer company, is building an environmental-feedback data system for GAP.

“With the feedback, we can know that our actions are actually helping,” Gershon said. “And that exposure will empower further action by demonstrating that progress toward global goals is possible — and that it is happening.”

Cray Research also has ordered 5,000 GAP workbooks for its employees. The company is the first major corporation to commit itself to the GAP program, Gershon said.

“Cray Research’s leadership in this area provides an exciting opportunity for us to again set standards for other corporations to follow,” said Rick Magyar, an engineering writer with the firm.

In another effort to spread the word about GAP, Whole Foods Markets, a natural foods supermarket chain based in Austin, Texas, has purchased 10,000 workbooks to distribute through its stores. Still more possibilities for distribution are in the works, Gershon added.

“The program is designed as a tool to move the wheel,” he said. “We want to make it available to all environmentally oriented groups. I see it expanding exponentially over the years.”

GAP is a non-profit organization, funded through grants, donations and sales of its workbooks. For more information, write the Global Action Plan, 57A Krumville Road, Olivebridge, NY, 12491. Or call (914) 657-8081.

Earth Tip: Recycled aluminum requires about 90 percent less energy to produce than when using virgin materials.

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