Gonna Take Pollution Down to Zero

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.

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