(Ed Begley Jr. and Raphael Sbarge co-founded an amazing organization to help children help the environment. Click here for the entire interview by Richard Kujawski, of Living Green Magazine. Below are highlights.)
Tell us about Green Wish, and why you founded it with Ed Begley Jr.
Green Wish is essentially a non-profit that raises money for other green non-profits, with a hyper-local focus. Pure and Simple: It iscommunity helping community.
We identify smaller, established groups that are well vetted, within the community, and making a real difference. Ed Begley Jr., arguably the face of the environmental movement (other than Al Gore), agreed to be the face of Green Wish, along with his wife Rachelle Carson. Ed brings real credibility to all our efforts, is on the board, and has helped hand pick the current groups along with all the other board members.
I was friendly with Ed and Rachelle, and approached them with the idea of an umbrella organization that supported multiple groups that worked to provide a steady stream of additional funding for not just one, but many groups. In our early discussions, we were able to focus the idea to make them LOCAL, and smaller in size. We also decided to pick nine groups across the green spectrum, focusing on the Earth, Air, Water, and Sustainability Education. Ed loved the idea of helping multiple organizations, and responded to the ease of use of the program (that is, bar coded, and added to one’s purchase at the check out counter). On the plus side, the retailer gets to say: “We care about the Greening of our community” in their press and social media. As well, they get a tax letter for the money they collect (so everyone wins!).
How did your children inspire you to start Green Wish?
My children are now 7 and 9. With so much need out there, I believe that it’s easy to get to environmental apathy pretty quickly. I mean, how can we possibly respond to all the issues we are facing, too numerous to mention here, and not shut down! It’s overwhelming, for sure. Our thought was that if you don’t have $25 or $50 every time you get an envelope with a polar bear on it, then perhaps this is a way to stay connected to your community, contribute $1, $3 or $5 dollars, stay involved, and not break the bank. We wanted to make it easy. We wanted to provide a conduit for giving and that directed the money into your community. Buy local, give local.
How does Green Wish involve and educate both children and adults to make a difference?
We created a program called, EEK-O-Halloween that works as both a collection box, and as a way to inspire educational opportunities for school age children. The concept is again simple, a small, easy to assemble box (shaped like a milk carton) with a place for the kids to draw or personalize their green wish on the outside. The kids collect coins as a part of their trick or treating, it gets counted and then a check is mailed from the school to a local chapter of Green Wish. A tax deductible letter is given to the school (for their purposes), and then the local groups are asked to visit the schools who participated, to tell them about the work they do in the community. This helps connect the dots so that the children can understand what is immediately around them and what is happening right in their community.
Are you involved in greening the television and movie sets that you are part of—such as banning throwaway plastic bottles, using eco-friendly caterers, etc.
I am currently engaged with the Executive Producing a web series that documents the building of their new home, a LEED Platinum home, in Studio City. It’s called On Begley Street and is soon to launch at www.OnBegleyStreet.com. We absolutely have a “green set” with no plastic bottles, no Styrofoam, and we recycle everything.
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