How did your childhood affect the way you feel about the environment today?
I was raised in a family where media was important and my dad has strong values about what people watched on television. He believed what they watch was a very powerful tool that could both educate and motivate them. This is why he was compelled to launch CNN.
Growing up, my siblings and I would watch the documentaries that were sent to my father for consideration to put on air. We were privy to cutting edge information about what was going on in developing countries around the world. We were aware of the “train wreck” issues that affected these nations. This inspired my dad to create ways to “edu-tain” kids all over the world through the Captain Planet and the Planeteers series. It has aired in more than 100 countries in 23 languages, reaching millions of children.
What does living green
mean to you?
Everyone can lead by example. Start with simple things in your home, like saving energy, conserving water and recycling. Get involved in your school and community on environmental projects. Start a garden to help our pollinators who are in trouble. Volunteer to be the recycling coordinator at your workplace. Ask companies you work with or support about their sustainability plans.
What are the issues you are most passionate about?
I am passionate about creating zero waste zones in our homes, schools, offices and places of worship. Waste in our landfills negatively impacts our land, air, water and even our physical bodies.
What does a typical day/schedule look like for you?
I always start my day with a healthy, nutritious breakfast with my freshly-squeezed green juice*, and I exercise. My mantra is “early to bed, early to rise, work like heck and exercise.” I then catch up on news from around the world on CNN. From there, my day gets a bit more hectic. I am meeting with organizations I am involved with, such as Captain Planet Foundation, speaking on environmental or children’s health issues, blogging or writing articles and sending out information through my social media channels. I also like to balance this with quality family time with my wonderful husband and three children.
You have traveled all over the world. Is there any one country that stands out to you?
When I visited the Arctic two years ago, we saw 13 polar bears in their natural habitat. The weather at the poles is on average nine degrees higher than it used to be. The climate is definitely warmer and is posing danger for the species that live there, especially the polar bears, as well as the planet. The fallout from carbon emissions is definitely wreaking havoc. Climate change in the Arctic is real and I’ve witnessed it myself. It is truly unlike any place I have ever been and made me even more committed to protecting our beautiful natural resources and endangered wildlife.
I recently spent time in Accra, Ghana with the Ghana Planeteers, an organization of young career professionals from all fields who meet weekly to organize events and campaigns to protect the environment in their communities. These young professionals have grown from a group of 50 to more than 215 in the past year alone. Throughout the world, there are more than 500,000 Captain Planet Planeteers who meet up on Facebook to converse with each other and develop new ideas for protecting our planet.
What advice would you give to parents trying to get their children to be more environmentally responsible?
Lead by example, showing your children that it is important to conserve our natural resources and be good stewards of the environment. It is important that we leave enough natural resources to other people and future generations. We need to manage our resources more sustainably. Teach your kids to pick up litter, recycle, use reusable water bottles, always turn off lights and electronics when they are not in use, and turn the water off when they brush their teeth. Reduce or eliminate toxic chemicals in your home and landscape. Instill a work and conservation ethic in your children that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.
What inspires you every day?
I stay motivated knowing that we have dedicated people working everyday in the trenches advancing the effort to protect our life support systems. At the end of the day, we want to be able to look our kids in the eyes and tell them that we did everything we could to make this a better planet for them and future generations.
Do you have any new projects/events coming up this year that you can tell us about?
I have many things coming up – the 10th Annual Captain Planet Foundation Earth Day Kids Fest on April 14 and the Captain Planet Foundation Benefit Gala on December 7.