Sometimes it takes a bit of creativity to create awareness for an important cause. Whether it’s a race for a cause, or an extreme, danger filled journey, these actions by heroic individuals can be an impactful way to gain media recognition and spread the word about crucial environmental issues.
Here are a few of our favorite environment-related publicity stunts from the past few years:
1. Two pilots, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, have been working to become the first pilots to fly around the world in a solo, solar-powered aircraft. Their goal? To create awareness of clean technology, sustainable energy, and the need to reduce the man-made emissions that contribute to climate change. Their aircraft operates solely with solar energy and does not release emissions during flight. At the time of writing, the aircraft had just crossed the Atlantic and arrived in Seville, Spain.
2. A 20-something New Yorker, Lauren Singer, spent 2 years living a zero-waste lifestyle; all of the waste she generated in this time period could fit inside a mason jar. She blogged all about it and was featured in the media multiple times for her accomplishment. She’s not the only one — Anamaria Shreeves of Atlanta also documents her zero waste lifestyle on her blog, Fort Negrita, which is a helpful resource for anyone who wants to give zero-waste a try.
3. Another adventurer aimed to promote solar energy last year: Marissa Muller bicycled across America on a bike that was rigged with a solar panel. The energy from the panel provided about 40 percent of the bike’s power, enabling her to average about 17 miles an hour to cover 70 miles a day. Aside from extolling the virtues of solar power, Muller also used her trip as a way to promote wellness and health for individuals and communities.
4. A few years ago, a Seattle suburb held a garbage-sorting competition. Contestants sorted 75 households’ worth of waste into trash, recyclables, and compostable organic matter; the team that ended up with the most recyclables and organic matter was the winner. The competition, which was heavily covered by local media, was intended to encourage residents to be mindful of their waste generation and to recycle as much as possible. “More than half of the garbage that goes into our landfill is recyclable,” said Tom Watson, one of the organizers and an employee of the city’s solid waste division.
5. Visitors to the Eiffel Tower back in 2008 were treated to an unusual sight: 1,600 papier-mache pandas, arranged in the plaza in front of Paris’ famous landmark. It was an unmistakable statement piece commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) aimed at increasing awareness of deforestation, poaching, and other practices that have further endangered pandas. Each sculpture represented one of the 1,600 pandas believed to remain in the wild. The pandas ended up going on tour, visiting Hong Kong, Bremen, Germany, and Geneva, among other stops.