Thursday, August 4, 2011

Check out this Interview with What You Can Do Creator, Jessica Arinella on Halogen TV!

What You Can Do Creator, Jessica Arinella, was recently interviewed by Halogen TV. She talks about how the project has developed over time and what issues inspire her the most.

What can you do in a minute? Order a pizza? Brush your teeth? Jessica Arinella , founder of What You Can Do, believes you can do a lot more.

Creator of one-minute videos about small and simple ways to make big and meaningful differences, Arinella shows that you can significantly reduce your carbon footprint, alleviate cruelty to animals, protect the oceans or reduce hunger – take your pick, or do them all! (Warning: Doing them all will take four minutes.)

Arinella remembers the day she decided that she was going to start paying it forward; on her blog she wrote that it was not unlike the feeling that she got while watching the polar bears in “An Inconvenient Truth”. At the time, she was gripped by what she calls an “ISD,” short for Impending Sense of Doom.

That sense would eventually lead to a monumental surge of inspiration when she started What You Can Do in 2009.

Halogen TV recently chatted with Arinella to discuss her motivations, which issues hit home the hardest and an easy way to save 25 million trees.

How did you get motivation for What You Can Do , and how has it evolved since its inception?

Jessica Arinella: The motivation for What You Can Do came from a two-fold catalyst in my life. The first part was that I lost my mother to lung cancer. Losing her was a profoundly shattering experience for me, and it brought up that age-old question of “What’s it all for?” I found myself deeply questioning the world, how it works and what my place in it was. For some odd reason I was watching a lot of documentaries during this time. During one especially compelling film, I became so agitated that I left the room and started reading Us Magazine. I kept thinking, if there is nothing I can do about this issue, then I don’t want to know about it. I would rather read an article on Brangelina than confront that overwhelming feeling of helplessness again. Documentaries are so good at illuminating the gravity of the perils facing our world, but they often stop short of showing us how we can help fix the problem. I kept thinking, someone should do something about that! And then it hit me. Wait! I have access to one of the best producers in New York – my sister, Alicia Arinella. I have (albeit limited) production skills! Maybe I could do this.

Every weekday in 2010, we produced a new video highlighting what someone could do to take action on a variety of social and environmental concerns. We now have a website that serves as a toolbox for change and features over 260 videos. Each episode showcases a different one-minute idea to make a positive impact on causes like climate change, hunger and ocean conservation.

What are the issues that really hit home with you?

I care deeply about all of the issues we have covered, but I think the one that hit me most deeply is cancer. But even more than any one specific cause, I am most inspired by the idea of offering people an action that only takes a minute to do.

When we first started making the videos, we honestly weren’t sure there was something you could do in a minute for something as serious as cancer. But we were excited to learn from experts that, yes, there IS something you can do to help fight lung cancer, for example, in just one minute. This is especially inspiring to me because it implies that if real change is possible in one minute, then these problems are potentially solvable.

One of your one-minute videos says 75 percent of the energy used to power consumer electronics is consumed while the product is not in use. Think of how much less coal we could burn if we just unplugged our phone chargers!

I know! We’ve learned so many illuminating facts like that during this project. But our goal is to present these statistics in a way that inspires people rather than just making them feel guilty. For example, the average American can use up to 100 gallons of water a day. BUT, eight of those gallons can be effortlessly saved just by shutting off the tap while you brush your teeth morning and night. If one person made that simple change, he/she would save 240 gallons of water a month! Multiply that and the numbers are staggering. If 100 people did it, we’d save 24,000 gallons of water. With 1,000 people? We’d save 240,000 gallons!

Our one-minute actions don’t need to happen in a vacuum. We are hoping to build a community where we can start to see our individual actions add up to real and measureable change.

Conserving water is a recurring theme on your site. Why is this a major concern?

The EPA estimates that by 2013, 36 of the 50 states will be facing local, regional or statewide water shortages – and that projection is for non-drought-like conditions. The good news is there are countless ways to easily save water. We’ve already discussed turning off the tap when you brush your teeth, but you can also do so when you wash your face or shave. When you are heating up the water for your shower, put a bucket in the tub to catch the run off. You can then use the saved water to refresh your plants or wash your car.

In your opinion, what’s the best way to get people to understand the cause and effect of their actions?

One thing that helps me is to be more mindful of how much of a resource I actually need. Just become aware of how much water is going down the drain when you wash the dishes, or how many napkins you grab for your lunch. And then, start making changes where it’s easiest for you. If a hot shower is your favorite part of the day, don’t make your life miserable by taking it away. Start with something that feels easier. For example, maybe start with turning off the water when you wash the dishes, or make an effort to unplug your electronic equipment when it’s not in use. We recently learned that cable boxes are a huge culprit when it comes to energy drain, so maybe unplug your box at night.

I’ve learned that changing the world doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Know you can make a difference even one minute at a time. Just try it for one week. You will be amazed by what you can do.

Wanna read the article on Halogen TV click here!.

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