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Gonna Take Pollution Down to Zero

2011 May 2

We joked about retiring the Garbage Gremlin and introducing a new mascot for the office I work in. I’m a fervid supporter of Captain Planet as a replacement, but for some reason, not many of my coworkers are familiar with him. So maybe not everyone’s formative years were in the early 90s. But still. How can people NOT know who Captain Planet is? He was my childhood inspiration, bringing those looting and polluting bad guys to justice and protecting our planet. It was because of him and his team of awesome Planeteers (being a Planeteer too retro for your kids? How about becoming a Planet Protector instead) that I decided to become a scientist and invent a cure for pollution.

captain planetAlas, some dreams are not meant to be. Especially after failing miserably at chemistry, biology, and math. Since May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, this is a great time to examine Asian stereotypes, especially ones many Asians themselves have decided to be true: If you’re Asian, you are good in at least one, if not all, of those subjects. If it wasn’t bad enough that there was no chance of me becoming a scientist, this pretty much meant me failing at being Asian as well.

Fast forward 10 years: I’ve come to terms with my inability to do instant calculations in my head, or to attempt to understand basic physics without having a stroke. Instead, I relish the moments when I can evoke pure and utter incredulousness in other Asians when they ask me what I majored in to work at EPA.

“Communications?!” They would respond, flabbergasted.”What can you do with a communications degree? And at the EPA?!”

It’s true that the majority of the people who work at EPA are scientists, lawyers, or economists, but someone’s got to figure out how to let the public know what the Agency is working on and how it affects them. Public Service Announcements, press releases, blog posts, webpages, social media campaigns, and publications; these are just a tiny fraction of what we communication folks work on for public education and outreach. From responding to questions from reporters and concerned citizens, to figuring out how we can raise awareness on a variety of issues, we work to show that protecting the environment isn’t just reserved for scientists. And with everyone’s powers combined, we are Captain Planet.

About the Author: Felicia Chou has been in the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery since 2008. Unfortunately, she does not know kung fu and cannot fly off walls. She does, however, make a mean mac and cheese.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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7 Responses leave one →
  1. Larry permalink
    May 2, 2011

    As someone who has worn the Garbage Gremlin “uniform” and scared plenty of kids, I think Captain Planet would be awesome. But I might have to spend a few months in the gym to bulk up before putting on the blue tights and red Speedo.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    May 3, 2011

    Great blog Felicia! We still distribute the garbage gremlin comic books in R5. Love the outreach materials OSW creates.

  3. Megan permalink
    May 3, 2011

    Great blog Felicia. As a non scientist EPA employee I appreciate you mentioning other options as careers.

    We still get plenty of requests for the garbage gremlin comic book here in R5.

  4. Linda permalink
    May 3, 2011

    I must say, if the Garbage Gremlin scares kids, it would be much better to go with a more “heroic” mascot. After all, saving the planet is a pretty darned heroic task … even if the job is made up of lots of small, mundane-seeming little tasks like recycling yard waste, paper, and old soda cans. Each of us who works toward that goal is an everyday hero, and who doesn’t need more heroes?

    Felicia, keep up the good work of translating all that data, all those numbers, and all that “sci-speak” into something everyone can understand and use – you have not “failed at being Asian”, you have simply succeeded in changing the definition of “success”.

  5. jesse permalink
    May 3, 2011

    … too funny! Great post. :-)

  6. priyanka permalink
    May 11, 2011

    Go Green Kids: An innovative effort to save Mother Nature
    An initiative by Green Yatra (An NGO).

    We believe that the younger generation is our future and has the potential to be change makers. It is this belief that fuels our campaign. Go Green Kids is a National environmental educational yet practical Non for profit initiative for children and school students aged between 6 to 18 years, where we hope to develop and deliver practical and logical approaches toward aspects of their daily lifestyle, environment, the ecosystem, natural resources, global warming, pollution, eco-friendly tips, nature protection and conservation, and how they can contribute, support and inspire their Parents, Elders, Friends by adopting a green lifestyle and in the process to help & preserve Mother Nature. The Go Green Kids initiative concerns with making children aware and helps in sensitizing their minds so that they may be proactive in caring for our environment.
    We are opting reverse/ retrograde approach to Save Mother Earth, through this Initiative where children will teach and inspire their elders to Go Green in daily life and can win cash prize of Rs. 2, 00,000, scholarships (Same amount of prize schools also can win) and lots of other benefits… Completely Free. Each and every student will awarded with a participation certificate as an encouragement which will be life time asset and credential to them.

    Our vision is to form the largest network of young students from around the country and world that would not see environmental preservation as a chore, but would understand its importance and act willingly toward a greener present and future. We planned to accomplish this through our campaigns, talk shows, events, dramas and plays, site visitations, Eco- Natural picnics, tree plantation, workshops, audio visual presentation, scientific researches and international online forum and activities (includes blogs, website, online community, groups, and forums), where we will discuss various environmental issues like global warming, air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution, smoking, alternate energy sources, alternate transportation, waste management, and a greener present and future. We also want to provide a platform for green ideas, concepts, and education that supports underprivileged kids. Our unique content does not only focus and prioritize on theoretical concepts but also on real facts, figures, images, videos, and scientific research.

    To participate in Go Green Kids, children has to register, login in our website and give online test or download question answer sheet on resources section give the test and summit/upload fully filled question answer sheet or mail us They can also enjoy reading interesting ways to save Environment in daily life, fact, reality on every aspect of environment in our Knowledge Tank section. We have try to make test informative, interesting rather than bookish and boring because we want make kids aware and inspire to adopt green lifestyle to save Earth.

    Spread the Word

  7. jennya permalink
    September 13, 2011

    Comics and magazines were a great inspiration to us as kids and we all had our hero’s and zero’s as sources of ‘listen to and look up to’s’…unfortunately comic writers have lost the art of inspiring kids with ‘Captain Good over Sleazy Evil’ and the prices charged for these publications is now well beyond pocket money reads.
    A whole generation has now been lost to the darker minds that supply etc. with multiple streams of anti-heroes destroying and destructing…even Dr.Who, once aimed at school children has now become such a scary epic that it terrifies young kids…so what is ‘Auntie BBC’playing at putting it out in children’s peak viewing times?…youngsters won’t be schooled or scared into a greener lifestyle,they need to be inspired to live it!

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