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Q and A with Terri Bennett

by Michael J. Solender

August 9,2010

For more than 16 years, Terri Bennett provided nightly weather forecasts to the Charlotte, NC, television market as a meteorologist and station scientist. From 2004 to 2007, she also penned a daily newspaper column, “Earth, Stars and Skies,” in the Charlotte Observer newspaper where she answered readers’ questions about all things science. After leaving the television business in 2007, Terri’s passion for the environment created the Do Your Part® idea and its core mission. Terri wanted the world to know that going green is easy, economical, and important. In 2010, DoYourPart.com was launched due to a growing demand for consumer-friendly eco-content. Bennett is the expertise behind the internationally syndicated content of Do Your Part® for print and broadcast media outlets.

Where did the inspiration for Do Your Part® come from?

My passion is teaching others about our planet. My professional training is in meteorology and my 17-year career as the “weather lady” also allowed me the avenue to teach others about gardening, water quality and quantity issues, and a host of other topics from earthquakes to asteroids in a daily column in the Charlotte Observer. When I was forced to reinvent myself in 2007, I didn’t need to find my passion. I needed to find an avenue to continuing doing what I love. Do Your Part For Everyday Green Living was born out of my desire to continue teaching others about our planet but with a focus on how our daily decisions impact the planet. Americans make up less than five percent of the global population yet we consume about 25 percent of the resources and generate 30 percent of the waste. I know we can do better. My goal is to empower the home manager with information that can start making a difference today on the environment both inside and outside the home.

How long have you been a champion for green living?

Living an eco-friendly lifestyle is not new to me, although I’m sure I get “greener” every year. As a nature lover, I’ve always tried to do my part when I can.

What has happened over the past few decades that has accelerated green living/lifestyle to the kitchens, living rooms, and backyards of everyday citizens?

The biggest catalyst for living a greener lifestyle has been concerns over global climate change. Unfortunately this is also the same reason why many don’t take action because they believe humans are not to blame. The truth is that it doesn’t really matter what you think about climate change. The bigger concern is that we use more resources in a year’s time than the planet can naturally regenerate and that is not sustainable. Every year we must tap into our children’s ecological reserves to meet our needs. A green lifestyle is one that wastes less, conserves resources and generates less trash and pollution.

How do you advise parents in explaining environmental sustainability to young children? How do we involve our children in doing their part at a young age and provide demonstrable returns for them that they can see and understand?

Keep it simple when talking to kids. My goal is always to show them how they are directly connected to the world around them. What happens when they turn on a light switch? Where does the power come from? The answer isn’t the power plant; it’s coal buried in mountains or oil drilled from the ocean floor. When you can show them a direct connection to the planet, they understand the importance of conservation and protecting our Earth.

How/where do you rate the Charlotte region as a community in terms of green awareness and action?  

The Storm Water program in Charlotte is doing great work. The fees on our water bill may be the source of many complaints, but when you pave over nature with streets and driveways, there is a cost. The fees go toward managing the water when it storms and to educating members of the community about stormwater pollution. One of the leading causes of water pollution in this country is stormwater runoff and we are all part of the problem. We are also part of the solution. The educational outreach of Charlotte Mecklenburg Stormwater Services is recognized as a leader in the industry.

I’m also impressed with the new curbside recycling program in Charlotte. With active participation, Charlotte could significantly reduce the amount of trash going to the landfill. Prior to the launch of this program, landfill space in Mecklenburg County was expected to reach capacity by 2020.

Areas for improvement would include greater access to safe routes for bicyclist and preservation of existing trees on new development.

Are there organizations and or businesses in our community that stand out in your mind as being particularly progressive regarding eco-policies and actions?

Goodwill Industries and Habitat for Humanity are two organizations that embrace eco-policies while they do great things for the community. Both accept gently-used household items otherwise destined for the landfill. The items are resold or recycled and the monies generated are used to fund job-training programs or to build housing for low-income families.

What data do you share and how do you respond when people ask the question, “Can one person really make a difference?”

One person can make a difference, and it starts at home. When you create a less wasteful lifestyle, you’ll save money and resources. When you choose eco-friendly products, you’ll create a healthier environment inside and outside your home. When you start incorporating green living habits into your everyday routine, you’ll benefit, your family will benefit, your community will benefit, and the planet will benefit.

You have formed your own production company and produce terrific content you share on your site and other venues, what can we expect from you and DoYourPart in the future?

Our mission is to continue to market Do Your Part® as the go-to source of information for practical green living at home.

We have recently updated DoYourPart.com to include a prominent eco-news section on the homepage, providing a reason for our visitors to come to the site everyday.

Our first Do Your Part® book will be published this fall and we are actively seeking a television deal for our reality-based “Everyday Green Living” show. In addition, we are licensing our eco-content to media companies that are looking for high quality video solutions, so they don’t have to absorb the cost to generate original content themselves.

These initiatives significantly expand our reach and capabilities as a media company that originates and distributes eco-content across multi-media platforms. In order to facilitate this growth, we will be looking to raise capital in the coming months.

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