Waste Not, Want Not: “Easy Tips for Anyone to Go Green Now”

Hello everyone! Hope you are enjoying the longest days of the year! Today I have a really special interview for you with Jill Buck. She’s the founder of Go Green Initiative: a free program educating students, teachers and communities how to live more environmentally conscious. Through reducing pollution and waste, reusing materials and through recycling, schools save money and create a healthier learning environment for our children. Jill also has easy to implement tips for home owners that are trying to live a little “greener”. Which is great in these hotter months where we use more water and blast our air conditioners. So without further ado, let’s get started!

IN THIS INTERVIEW YOU WILL LEARN:

  • What the Go Green Initiative is, and how can it be implemented in your child’s school… or home.
  • How ethical consumerism ties into living a green, sustainable life.
  • Big and small changes we can make to reduce our environmental impact and “go green”.
  • Why jumping straight onto the solar train might be a mistake and the steps you should take before you get there.
  • Where to find local resources to make Green changes in your home.
  • Wasting is expensive! Jill will talk us through ways schools and homes often waste, the cost and of course… quick fixes!
  • Where we can learn more about going Green… on Go Green Radio!

But first… What does it mean to “Go Green”?

Go Green: ” ‘Going green’ means to pursue knowledge and practices that can lead to more environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible decisions and lifestyles, which can help protect the environment and sustain its natural resources for current and future generations.”

or straight off of the Go Green Initiative site for what it means to Go Green in the classroom:

What does it mean to “Go G.R.E.E.N.”?

 

gGenerate less waste

 

rRecycle everything that cannot be reused

 

eEducate the community on eco-friendly options

 

eEvaluate the environmental impact of actions

 

nNourish discussions and activities that integrate environmental education into existing curriculum

JILL BUCK OF GO GREEN INITIATIVE:

Jill Buck of Go Green Initiative

Kelsey: What exactly is Go Green initiative and what inspired you to start it? Who is Jill Buck? I know before working on this you were a Naval officer, so this is a big change.

Jill: Yeah well, when I was in the Navy there was a point where my command was getting ready for an inspection from our Admiral that happened every three years. And it was my job to help the command get ready for that inspection. That would encompass things like keeping our classified material locked properly; locking our weapons up properly, because we had small arms; all kinds of things. There is a really thick binder of requirements. But that was at the time in the early 90’s when President Clinton had just signed an Executive Order requiring the entire Federal government to purchase recycled content paper. So out of this huge list of things I had to get our command ready to be inspected on, that was one little line item. So as I was going around from space to space in our command looking for other things I would feel the paper. And at that time you could tell by feeling it if it was recycled content. And so, that was my first kind of introduction into environmentally responsible purchasing. And our command was also starting to recycle paper in addition to purchasing recycled content paper.

So that was just one of the things I would go around doing. We had a huge command and I would look and see if we were doing those things. And then when I became a civilian and I got involved in my kids’ schools that little part of my brain just didn’t shut off. I mean, I could walk into a classroom and see if they were using recycled content paper. Are they recycling paper? You know, and so I was thinking, “Well there’s a violation”… *chuckles*… it was still with me.

When my oldest daughter started school we lived in South Carolina, but when she was in second grade we moved here to Pleasanton (California). And I was thinking, “Gosh, we’re going to be living 25 miles from Berkeley and everybody there is environmentally conscious. Surely the schools we will be taking her into will be doing all this right. And when we came here I found that that was not the case. We were not recycling, we were not trying to reduce waste, we were wasting energy, wasting water… I mean, the whole gamut.

So I became the PTA President for Walnut Grove Elementary and what I really wanted to do was just find a program that was already set. That I could just bring to the principal and say, “Can you do this and create a more environmentally responsible campus”. Her little sister, who’s now about to graduate from high school, was a toddler at the time. And at the same time that I was thinking about recycling and stuff in school she was experiencing some really bad asthma. There were times when it would get so bad that I would have to take her to the emergency room, and we were trying to figure out what was causing it, because no one in our family has asthma. And after a while we realized that whenever there was a “Spare the Air Day” here in the Bay Area -which means that the air is going to be higher polluted so try and carpool those days- she would have an asthma attack. So it was environmental pollutants that were causing her asthma. It wasn’t genetic thing that she was predisposed to. There were forces outside of her that were causing asthma, and the more I worked with her pediatrician the more I saw that this was a very common problem throughout the Bay Area. We have a lot of kids that are asthmatic and it’s very tied to our air quality. There are other reasons for it too, some kids are very sensitive to pesticides that are used in schools, some kids are very sensitive to schools that have poor indoor air quality.

Efforts to go green at school can improve air quality for our children.

So these two things were converging in my mind at the same time. This let’s treat the environment better, let’s recycle at school and my kid is having health problems as a result of environmental factors. And so as I was shopping around for this one-stop shopping opportunity for environmental education programs that I could bring to my kids’ school I realized there was no panacea. This was in 2002. And that’s because most programs were written by a government agency that had a mission to write curriculum or programs or activities for schools just for their area. You know, so just for energy, or just for recycling, just for water conservation. There was no program bringing them all together. So I decided to create a program for people like me *chuckles* who were too busy to do what I had been doing, which was researching all these different programs to cobble them together. I thought, “Okay, I can’t be the only one who wishes that I had found a program like this”, so I wrote the Go Green Initiative to be that program. So that’s how it all got started and that’s how it kind of filtered from my Navy days to my Mom days and came together.

Kelsey: In the paper section of your Planning Guide, (the more in-depth plan for carrying out the Go Green Initiative at schools), you briefly mention the concept of voting with our dollar. That it won’t matter if we recycle paper, if we fail to also buy recycled content paper in conjunction. In other words, in order to make recycling work, people have to actually use the products being made out of recycled materials. Suppliers will not make something there is no demand for. This concept can be applied to everything we consume, because businesses mostly measure their success in stock growth/ profit and will rarely make a sustainable change without a market demand for it.

The average person who lives in a developed country consumes a lot. From electricity to food to paper, it can be overwhelming to be as “green” as possible. Do you have any tangible tips for the average person trying to reduce their environmental impact?

Jill: Well probably the number one way to reduce your environmental impact is to look at your energy consumption; whether that’s through transportation, or the energy you consume in your home or office. Because even though the last few years the country has shifted a lot of our energy use away from coal to natural gas, it’s still not clean. It’s cleaner, but it’s still a fossil fuel. So that creates particulate matter in the air around where those plants are burning fuels. Essentially electricity is just a plant where they boil water to turn turbines to create electricity. And whether they are burning coal or through nuclear fission, or fusion or whether it’s through natural gas, or what have you… that’s generally how electricity is made. The renewable energy sources are another story, but generally that’s how our electricity comes from burning something to boil water to create steam to turn the turbines. So even though a lot of utilities have converted from coal plants to natural gas plants, they still create carbon emissions and particulate matter. So there is a substantial environmental impact to your energy use.

The other side of that of course is transportation. Transportation makes up a huge environmental footprint, both from the carbon emissions standpoint, (the greenhouse gas emissions that are incumbent in our carbon fuels), but also in the air emissions in the particulate matter that comes out of our tailpipes. Even if you have a 100% electric vehicle, unless you are charging that on electricity that’s renewable like solar panels, there’s carbon involved in getting the electricity to power your car.

So things that I do:

  • I drive a Prius. There is some gasoline in there, so not 100% green, but…
  • I try to consolidate my trips. I try to make sure that I’m not running 15 errands over 15 days. I think about making my drive time and distance as short as can be.
  • If I’m going someplace that I can take BART, Bay Area Rapid Transit, or other forms of public transportation I do. Even when I travel for work, for the Go Green Initiative, a lot of times I’m going into a city that frankly has better public transportation than here in Pleasanton and I use it. I have to plan ahead to use it.

So I think between transportation and your electricity consumption, those are the two greatest impacts you can have. And then after that I would say food you consume, so eating as much locally grown food as you possibly can. Cutting down on meat if you can’t completely cut out meat. I remember years ago I had Philippe Cousteau, whose Grandfather was famous underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau,on Go Green Radio, and his Grandson Philippe is following in his footsteps. He said, “You know what? I love steak and I love cheeseburgers. So what I’ve done in my life is cut it down to the weekends. Throughout the week I’m a vegetarian and then Saturday and Sunday I let myself have one meat meal. And I’ve still significantly reduced my environmental impact”. So that’s the third place I go, food. And there are lots of other things, but those are the main ones. Based on what I know they have the biggest environmental impact.

Schools that grow their own food in an effort to go green create educational opportunities and safe money and transportation energy.

Kelsey: So for conserving electricity, what are the specific things people can do in their homes and schools? I know turning off the lights when you are not using them, are there other easy things people can do too?

Jill: Totally, there are some very easy things.

  • In your home or school use LED lights. If you can go to LED, yes, they are more expensive at the beginning, but they last so much longer and they use so many fewer kilowatt hours than a standard bulb. That’s a huge one.
  • Things like washing clothes in cold water versus hot water; depending on your hot water heater, whether it is electric or natural gas, you could end up saving a lot right there.
  • For things that you can line dry verses putting them in the dryer; that’s a big savings.
  • One of the things in peoples’ homes, and this is something that we did that has been tremendously helpful, is in-su-lation. *chuckles* If your home is not properly insulated it’s not that costly to add insulation and it can reduce the amount of energy you use to heat and cool your home a lllot. So it’s probably one of the most cost-efficient things, between that and your bulbs, that you can do.

Kelsey: I read that on your website. That sometimes people will jump to solar and stuff like that, but they are missing a step.

Jill: Yes, energy efficiency first. Yeah! Cut your load! That’s the most expensive way to go green with your power, by purchasing solar kilowatt hour… and I’m all for that… but reduce your kilowatt hour load first and then purchase only that renewable energy that you need to cover your reduced load. It’s kind of like the same thing we do with reduce, reuse, recycle. We reduce first. It’s great to recycle! But instead of using a bunch of plastic water bottles I have to recycle it is much better to not use those to begin with and to keep reusing and reducing. It’s the same thing with electricity. Reduce your load before you go to renewable energy.

Kelsey: That reminds me of what we were discussing in our conversation before this interview about ethical consumerism being a little bit of an oxymoron. If you think, “Oh well, now that I’m recycling paper I don’t have to worry about my paper consumption. Or now that I’m buying humane meat I don’t have to reduce my meat intake. And now that I drive a Prius I can drive so much further”. It completely negates the purpose of what you are doing if you go crazy on meat and drive across the country all the time now.

Jill: Exactly. So it’s about moderation at every stage of your decision-making process, it really is.

Kelsey: Yeah, and planning ahead and actually thinking about your impact is crucial to success.

Jill: Yeah thinking it through and like I was saying about coordinating my errands, it requires me to plan out my week. And even in food planning I sit down and I spend some time planning out the menu for the week. I can see what I’ll need from the store so that way I’ll only have to go once. I can make sure we aren’t eating too much meat. I can make sure we get our protein from other sources, because I am planning it out in advance.

Kelsey: If someone in America is trying to “go green” through something the government might supply or give tax returns on, such as solar panels, a rain barrel or compost bin, who should they contact? Obviously, it is going to be different for different counties and states. But if they were to do a Google search on how to invest in these things where should they start?

Jill: Well it depends on what you are talking about. Like, okay if you are talking about composting most cities or counties have a recycling coordinator who’s going to know about solid waste issues. There is going to be somebody who is an employee of the county or city, depending on how rural you are, department of public works or they might be under city services. But if you get on your city website, or if all else fails just call the city’s main line and say, “Who knows about recycling? I want a composting bin”. They will be able to point you in the right direction. They may send you to your local waste hauler. Like for instance, if you want a composting bin for your backyard, like one of those 36 gallon totes, for whatever reason your family doesn’t have one and you want to separate your yard waste and compost from your kitchen and have it hauled away. You’re gonna need to call Pleasanton garbage service, but you’ll find that out by going to your city website. The compost bin for your backyard is through a program that has been running for a while and sometimes they have money to give them away for free and sometimes you have to pay a little bit for it. But the Alameda Country waste management authority is our county regulatory agency that covers all these issues.

There are many more ways to go green with our energy than we are aware of. Education our children about energy conservation is important for a sustainable, safe future.

This is something I’ve spent a lot of time on for the Go Green Initiative. Helping people understand how their systems work in their local town. So before they get solar on their roof, start with who you pay your electricity bill too. They have resources to help you with those things. A lot of times a utility company is mandated to provide customer service that you don’t have to pay for. The rates that you’re paying for your electricity already pay for some of those services. So you know, if you want help with energy start with your utility company. If you want help with waste start with your waste hauler or your city. Because a lot of times your city is the one who contracts with the waste haulers to provide services. In the contract they make the waste hauler have certain customer service options. But it’s really a good idea to know how your city works… where your water comes from… It starts with your utility companies. If you want to know about rain barrels and recycled water or conservation measures that maybe there are rebates for, start with the company you pay your water bill to. They can help you with that. So yeah, gosh, everyone’s got a website now, so start there.

Kelsey: When I was on the Go Green Initiative site I read through the planning guide and it talked a lot about composting, recycling and educating people about both of those things. But then on the rest of the website it briefly touches on other issues such as water, food and electric waste. Is there another spot on Go Green Initiatives site where it talks about how to combat those types of pollution in schools?

Jill: Yeah, actually that’s coming. We are constantly trying to improve. One of the ways that people can get more information if they need it right now is listening to Go Green Radio’s podcast. I’ve had some of the nation’s premier experts on the show talk about all those issues and more. But one of the things we’ve been working on as Go Green Initiative is an updated Planning Guide that will include all of those topics. So some of that is coming and that’s actually something I am looking for Summer interns for. To help create the next version of our Planning Guide.

Now Go Green Initiative is a program for schools. So a lot of our information is targeted towards schools. But if people want information for their homes on those topics we’ve kind of had a standing policy for the last 15 years. If there is a question you have that is not immediately apparent on our website, fill out the contact us form with the question and we will get back to you with an answer. We have people who email, people who call the office line all the time and we help them find those resources. Some of my favorites are on the EPA website. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is our tax payer dollars at work, and they have awesome resources. If you get out on epa.gov they’ve got things on waste, and food, and energy. Also the Department of Energy, DOE, has a website chalked full of great tips. So no matter where you live you will find ways to address these issues in your life. So I tend to send people to other websites, not just the Go Green Initiative. But the EPA and DOE are two of my favorites, because I think they are really practical.

Kelsey: Something I think is really great about the Go Green Initiative is how focused it is on involving the community in what’s going on with schools. Because if the community is involved in fundraisers or you are educating your students, your parents and faculty about all of these practices they will hopefully trickle out into the home and out into the community. And the school is a good model for what we can be doing at home.

Community efforts to go green are the most effective and offer the most support.

Jill: It tends to have a ripple effect. I mean, we have heard that anecdotally throughout the years. That when kids and teachers and parent volunteers see stuff happening in school they think, “Well that’s not hard”. They do take it into their place of business. We’ve even seen students advocate to their city councils saying, “We are recycling at our schools, but we can’t at the sports park where we have practice”. Students will take a leadership role in having it ripple throughout the community. So I do think it’s important to take a whole community approach to instituting some of these practices. Having it start at school where kids are spending most of their waking hours is a great place to start. However, it’s certainly not the end all be all.

Kelsey: I really liked the idea that you had on the Planning Guide of really measurable ways to show the progress that you are accomplishing. So actually measuring out the weight of the recycling; I think that’s a good reward system for people. So I was wondering if you had any other ideas for rewarding students and the community for getting involved? Just so that they can see the tangible, measurable things that they are doing.

Jill: I am a big believer in being able to report back to the community the “So what” of it all. So we did all this recycling… so what did it matter? So what? And part of the way you are able to do that is by quantifying how much you recycled and then putting that through an environmental benefits calculator. There are so many environmental benefits calculators out there now that it’s easy for a school to record that weight and figure out the environmental benefits themselves or we can do it for them. Plug it into an environmental benefits calculator and because we recycled this much of these materials this is the environmental impact that we had.

But moreover, a lot of times when you are doing these kinds of activities you are saving in money. One of the things that I really encourage schools to do is be super transparent. If the school is saving money on its waste hauling bill, because they are recycling or because they are reducing their waste they should tell everybody how much they saved. And then say, “We’re gonna take that money and do something great with it”. Maybe it’s been a goal of the school, if they are an elementary school, to open up a new playground. You can save enough money through saving energy and wasting less to build a new playground. Maybe it’s hiring a part time art teacher. At Walnut Grove, in Pleasanton, we saved $10,000 by printing less newsletters for parents and switching to email. So we took that money from the PTA budget and applied it to hiring a part time art teacher. That was the first year of the Go Green Initiative, $10,000.

So I help schools kind of tailor design their incentive programs. Some school districts really need classroom supplies and it’s not okay to spend money on something frivolous like a pizza party, but I still encourage them to be transparent. To say, “We needed books, or we needed crayons or we needed computers and we were able to purchase that, because we didn’t waste money on energy or waste hauling or whatever. And we were able to do something better.” That is an incentive on so many levels. First of all it gets back to what Benjamin Franklin said forever ago in “Poor Richard’s Almanack”, he said, “Waste not, want not”. The less we waste the more money we have to spend on other things we really need, which is good, but it also teaches students the economics of environmentally responsible behavior. That it costs a lot of money to be wasteful. And besides the economics of it, there is an environmental cost and a cost to clean up those environmental messes. So the school around the students becomes a real learning laboratory of the cost of wastefulness. You can talk about that in terms of ethics, you can talk about that in terms of morals or you can just be very crass and say, “It’s too expensive to be wasteful.” We don’t have the money to be wasteful. None of us do. Because there’s always better we could with that money or that resource or that time. So I think it’s important to show people the fruits of their labor. If they are going to do a good job at being environmental stewards show them what that’s worth.

Kelsey: It’s very interesting to reframe what it means to waste and how it saves money. Because in America, or rather a lot of developed countries, people can almost feel like they are richer, because they can “afford” to waste. They will buy lots of inexpensive food, but let excess rot in the fridge. Or frequently buy cheap clothing they may wear a few times that they can just throw away, because it was $5-10. They are not thinking obviously about how the materials, transportation, labor, etc. all had to be under that amount to turn a profit. But all that aside, people feel richer through consumption. As the middle class shrinks they may not be able to afford health care or a home, but at least they can buy a lot. It’s like a false sense of success, or it fills a void or expectation we have in our minds in which we measure success through materialism. But in actuality it adds up fast to be wasteful. It’s so expensive. This mindset is making us poorer. So to say you should waste less, because not only will it help save the planet, but it will give your child’s school the resources they need is huge.

Jill: And it’s gonna catch up with us, because when a landfill becomes a land-full, which is about to happen to us, then what? It always catches up with us. In states like California we have so much land and there was a time when we could keep building landfills and keep building landfills. But the East Coast is getting wise to this. I work with a lot of schools in New Jersey and they used to have hundreds of landfills open. So you want to know why recycling is such a big deal? Why they are willing to fine a school in an impoverished area $3,000 per school per day for being out of compliance with recycling laws? Because they only have 16 left. Only 20 years ago there were hundreds and now they are down to 16. We’re running out of space and that cost is too much. That is why the county is coming down hard on a school that can barely afford to keep the lights on, because they are not recycling. It has to do what will happen when 16 becomes 6… 6 becomes none… Then what do you do? It costs too much to export your waste somewhere where at least for now they have the landfill space.

recycling and composting are an important step to go green

Kelsey: I think that’s kind of the problem when we outsource so many things. When we don’t work within our communities it’s difficult for us to actually see the impact of what we are doing. When you go to the grocery store and there is a little pretty package of meat, but it doesn’t look like that animal… or you just see the clothing, but you don’t see the sweatshop laborer… or you just throw away your trash in the trash bin and you don’t see where it goes. Ignorance is bliss. Out of sight out of mind; it’s easy not to worry about it. People would probably be much more careful if they had to pile their trash in their backyard.

It’s interesting that in discussions about sustainability the word “sustainable” has lost its meaning. We kind of throw it around without actually thinking about what it means. The definition of unsustainable is we CANNOT keep doing this infinitely. We talk about making sustainable “choices” like they are a nice thing to do, but they are a necessity. It’s not a choice; we have to learn how to live sustainably if we want to keep surviving.

Jill: You’re exactly right, and you know I’ve run into plenty of people who don’t want to hear anything about climate change and, ya know, me too. *chuckles* That’s all fine and good, but at least we can agree that fossil fuels are finite. Can we agree to that? I mean, fossil fuels are called fossil fuels for a reason. We are not making more of them. When the oil and the gas and the coal are gone, how will we pass on a good standard of living to our children, grandchildren and beyond? They’re going to need a source of energy. And so at what point do we say, “It’s time to switch over to infinite sources of energy”?

Right now we are not creating solar panels with solar energy, okay. So there’s some amount of these fossil fuels that we need to invest to create that energy system of the future. And we’re getting really close to that tipping point if we haven’t already tripped over the line. So even for people who are not invested in issues of climate change, adaptation or mitigation I still try to help them see that if they want their children and grandchildren to have a great standard of living, energy is kind of the bed rock of that.

It takes energy to do everything. Even pump clean water. We need energy to do that. So that because we can agree that fossil fuels are finite, let’s start talking about transitioning into infinite sources of energy. And in the process guess what? We are going to lower our carbon emissions and that’s going to be a good thing for the environment. But even if they are not concerned with that, they are often concerned with the standard of living that they want to have in place for their posterity.

Kelsey: It’s good just making that connection with people and educating them, because often times I’m sure people don’t even think about that. You switch the switch and the lights are on; you don’t have to think about how it got to you. I think a lot of people don’t even know.

Jill: Right. We discovered that at Amador High School. We had somebody come in and have them talk about the infrastructure right here in Pleasanton. How does energy move? Where does it come from? What’s the source of it? How much is from coal? How much is from hydro? It was very interesting. I wanted them to be able to look around the community and see that’s a transmission line, that’s a distribution line, that’s a substation and I know what it does. And I know how energy gets to me. We are actually going to be going to the nuclear plant in Diablo Canyon in San Los Obispo in May. So we can see what the deal is with nuclear. The students will be able to evaluate it themselves.

Kelsey: You’re just giving them the information.

Jill: Yup, exactly. But I think knowing how the system works is so critical. Things that people have a hard time getting their head around when it comes to sustainability stem from one simple point of ignorance. And that is, not knowing how systems work in our communities. Waste. Water. Food. If they don’t know how those systems work locally they don’t understand why we are being asked to recycle or compost. It doesn’t make sense. One of the things that the Go Green Initiative is trying really hard to do is educate school communities (that includes adults) on how systems work. And how you make choices to be more sustainable and conserve natural resources for future generations based on your knowledge of how your local systems work.

Kelsey: That’s kind of what we were talking about before the interview. Being able to empower people through allowing them to be informed.

Jill: We’ve all said there’s a water distributor that deals with that, or there is a waste hauler that deals with that, ya know. There’s a utility, I pay my utility bill, well we need closer to our food, energy, waste and water and where they come from.

Kelsey: It applies to everything. It’s funny, because it’s easy to say, “Oh I need to be more careful about my food, but it applies to where my water comes from, my clothing, energy… where my stapler comes from… It applies to absolutely everything.

Jill: It’s a big Venn diagram isn’t it?

Kelsey: Yeah, it’s all connected. And it’s not necessarily about being educated about all these things and making this huge overhaul. It’s about being aware that this applies to everything in my life, whether I fully understand it all or not. So let me take a step back and be present and make each choice deliberately. And understand that I have the ability to make a choice when it comes to living sustainably or consuming ethically.

Jill: Be as conscious as I can. And if you can make that snappy and easy that’s what I want.

Kelsey: Well that’s exactly what you are doing for schools. I think it’s incredible that you’ve created this program for schools that is now used internationally. You made it straight forward for people to know exactly what it means to “Go Green”. That’s a big deal.

Jill: Well yeah, I mean, the success of it is really based on a simple truth, and that is that I am not the only person who wants this. I didn’t have to push that hard. I just had to make it available and simple and accurate and trustworthy. But people wanted it. If they didn’t I wouldn’t have made it very far. I can’t push that hard. It was what people wanted, it was the right product for the right market. And I say that very loosely, because as you probably know from our website, we sell nothing. *laughs*

Kelsey: It’s all free information! So the Go Green Radio on Voice America, what is that? I know you interview different people about sustainability.

Go Green Radio with Jill Buck

Jill: Well this is where I get to have a little fun that goes beyond just school stuff. I cannot stop this quest of learning everything I can about sustainability issues. I get to go out and find information for Go Green audience that may or may not be just about schools. I can explore topics that are much broader. But what I am finding is that a lot of students, particularly college students will use episodes of Go Green Radio as a reference in a paper or whatever they are doing. Because I have such credible guests coming on the show and giving such great information. This is where I get to explore some of the greatest minds when it comes to water and infrastructure and energy and different products and food and all these topics and how they relate to sustainability. It’s kind of my sustainability playground. *laughs* And I have had such a wide variety of guests. People in government, entertainment, academia, business. I try not to be hindered too much. As long as it has to do with sustainability and environmental protection it is fair game.

Kelsey: So is it always the format of you interviewing people?

Jill: Mhm, it is. And sometimes it’s just one person and sometimes it’s many. We’ve had up to 6 people at a time on, and it drove my engineer crazy. *Laugh* The studio is actually in Arizona. I Skype in from my office or from my home office and then my guests call in on land lines. So I very rarely get to actually meet my guests. But one time, just last November, I was at a conference in D.C. I had been traveling all day carrying my luggage. I was getting off the subway and my hotel was like three blocks away. And I look up and I see in the window of this coffee shop, Reverend Yearwood who was like my guest two years ago. He has a very distinctive look. He is the head of the Hip Hop Caucus. He wears a black shirt with a collar and a hip hop hat. I was like, “Oh my gosh”! So I ran in to the coffee shop and said, “You were on my radio show!” and he said, “I know that voice… Jill Buck!”. And so I got to actually meet him; he’s in D.C. and I’m always out here in the Bay Area. It was really cool.

Kelsey: So what do you want people to be able to take away from listening to Go Green Radio?

Jill: It depends on the theme of the radio show. I always try to finish up each episode with what’s the take away for the everyday person. And sometimes it’s just increasing their awareness of a topic. Sometimes it’s getting in touch with your congressmen. Sometimes it’s purchasing or not purchasing something, or sometimes a life hack. Ya know, what you can do to conserve more. It kind of depends on the topic of the day what the take away is. But hopefully it’s for people like me who just want to know more about sustainability. People who are never satisfied and constantly want to know more about how to live a greener life and are seeking out more information. Because that’s how I am; constantly learning how I could be doing this and that better.

Kelsey: It’s great that you get to learn through the process.

Jill: I know! It’s so fun. I love it! So exciting. I’m going to be watching a documentary that’s coming out on PBS in a few weeks and I’m getting a sneak preview before it airs. I’m having the film maker and a couple of the people in the documentary on my show to promote it. I get to do that a few times a year. The same thing happens with books; a lot of times I’ll get the first look at a new book that’s coming out and interview the author just as the book is coming out and hitting the bookshelves. It’s a blast.

Kelsey: It’s an awesome opportunity for you and your listeners.

Jill: Yeah. It’s really fun. And the thing is I’m pretty sure it started really small. I’m pretty sure all my listeners were related to me at the beginning. *Chuckles* But now we have at least 25,000 people a week who listen live and then we have close to 2 million people who download archive broadcasts from iTunes every month. So they are from all over the world.

Kelsey: Congratulations!

Jill: Thanks! I get emails from people in Europe and Asia and all over the place. So it’s kind of fun.

Kelsey: It’s great that you have such a widespread reach and that’s something that’s so cool about technology now. That we can share that with each other so easily.

Jill: And it’s cool not to be limited to a terrestrial radio station. Voice America was really ahead of its time with its online radio station.

Kelsey: Is there anything else that you want people to know about the Go Green Initiative or Go Green Radio?

Jill: Hmmm, well um, we’re here to help. I mean that’s my mission is just to help people with whatever their environmental goals may be. Whatever their life goals may be with how it relates to sustainability. We love to get help too. I mean, we love to have people volunteer with us, I love having students do projects in the Summer. We are always looking for help that way. We are a little community, very collaborative that way. I love meeting people along the way, like you, who seem to be moving in the same direction. It gives me hope.

Kelsey: I feel the same way. I always feel so inspired getting to interview people like you. Thank you for inspiring us all! It keeps me moving along.

WRAP UP:

Well that’s it friends! If you want to bring Go Green Initiative to your local schools (and please do!) here is a link to their page: https://gogreeninitiative.org/wp/ 

If you want to learn more about sustainability and living green check out Go Green Radio: https://www.voiceamerica.com/show/1303/go-green-radio or check out any of the many resources on Get Cultured Kitchen such as this interview on sustainable fishing or this interview about what it takes to run a sustainable restaurant. Or perhaps an article on how to live in balance with Mother Earth, spiritually and practically.

If you are feeling inspired and want to help out Go Green Initiative with their global quest for environmental consciousness here is their contact page for volunteering: https://gogreeninitiative.org/wp/contact-us-4/

Thanks for reading everyone! I look forward to hearing from you; have a spectacular week!

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