Arctic Action Team...Assemble! (Yes, that means you.)


If you download this app I will high-five you in a fashion similar to this. 

If you download this app I will high-five you in a fashion similar to this. 

A friend of mine has been involved with development of a new program which I love, and which I’m writing about without her knowledge. (Until now. Because she might be reading this at this very moment.  Or maybe she already read it and now you’re reading it. Which is one of those weird things with time and language, right? Is that like time travel? Or prophecy?)

Anyway, what I actually want to talk about is not something as nebulous as the dissonance between perception and time. It’s called myActions, and it’s quite concrete. This is something you can learn more about at www.myactions.org or by downloading the myActions app from your operating system’s source for apps on phone, tablet, etc.

myActions is linked to the "One Million Actions for Planet Earth" challenge, which is being sponsored by the Arctic Action Teams. This is a challenge to which eight zoo communities across the Midwest and East Coast have pledged their support. It is as straightforward as it sounds--by April 22, Earth Day, they want to see one million acts which support thoughtful environmental citizenship, especially those which impact CO2 emissions. Our way of documenting these acts? myActions.

The great thing about myActions is that it extends definition of environmentally responsible acts beyond recycling or turning off lights. Educating others, reusing by thrift shopping, even spending time in nature count as actions. Shit, one guy even brought the people at the zoo a pie and put it on there. Your imagination is the limit. Like to make art from plastic bottles, old paper, or coat hangers? Post it and see how much you can raise for charity. Did you make a drawing of a polar bear during math class? I don’t think that reduces CO2, but hey--I bet it’s cute. Let’s see it.

When you sign up, you’ll be asked to align yourself with a city. Indianapolis didn’t participate so I chose Chicago. From there I had the option for my actions to support the Red Cross, the Brookfield Zoo, and one other charity I didn’t know so I don’t remember the name of it (hey, no one’s perfect). You can also put yourself in the “World” category, which has its own set of organizations. You share your actions with others in your region by posting them to the app. You can even add photos, "like" other people’s actions, and comment. Every time you add an action to the app--like recycling a newspaper--the app tells you how much CO2 it’s estimated you offset, how much money you saved, and how much money you raised for the charity of your choice. Donations are small, but over time, actions add up to big amounts.

Hey, wait, isn’t that what this program wanted to teach me to begin with?

Well damn, sons and daughters, we’re learning here.

My favorite part about the app is that it in turn motivates you to act more. I take recycling to the bin, I’m like, “hellz yes, another quarter for the pandas.” I have always tried to be a responsible consumer, but now, my human desires for recognition and social connection are driving that urge. Now recycling or saving water isn't something I must remind myself to do, it’s something I want to do, and it has real life benefits. If you're from the Ohio River Valley (Akron, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Louisville, or Pittsburgh) and choose to support your local zoo, you’ll be able to go to that zoo and see impacts like improved habitats and foliage. Those supporting other cities like Chicago just get the warm fuzzies of contributing to a charity. 

Right now, around 13,000 people have committed over 300,000 actions. Do you want the challenge to be OVER by the time you get around to cleaning those newspapers out of the attic? No, I didn’t think so! So go download the app, and let your spring cleaning benefit more than just you!

(Just to reiterate--none of the above statements are meant to be read as the opinion of anyone from Arctic Action Teams or any of their affiliates. THIS JUST MAKES MY HEART HAPPY AND I WANTED TO SHARE IT.)