Tag Archives: anti-idling heroes

Meet the Man Who’s Asked Thousands of New Yorkers to Stop Idling

George Pakenham, producer of Idle Threat: Man on Emission

George Pakenham, New York City's anti-idling crusader

“Excuse me for bothering you… but are you aware that it’s against the law to idle your car engine in NYC for more than 3 minutes?”

Those are the words George Pakenham, a New Yorker who works in finance, has used to start thousands of discussions though car windows on the streets of Manhattan. What started as an impulsive act on his Upper East Side block in 2005 evolved into a full-blown citizen activism campaign that went all the way to City Hall and is still going strong. We caught up with George to find out more about his vigilante approach to environmental justice and “Idle Threat: Man on Emission,” the award-winning documentary he made about it.

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College Student Speaks Out About Idling

Clare Roth, a senior at Northwestern University, made idling the topic of her prepared speech

Clare Roth, a senior at Northwestern, made vehicle idling the topic of a speech for her speech team competitions.

In January, Sustainable America received an unexpected call. It was from Clare Roth, a Northwestern University senior journalism student who had learned of our “I Turn It Off” pledge campaign to end unnecessary vehicle idling. A member of her school’s speech team, Roth had chosen vehicle idling as the topic for the prepared speech she would be competing with throughout the season—and she wanted to see if we could send her materials to hand out at the events.

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5 (More) Anti-Idling Heroes

Rachael Lefevre is an anti-idling spokesperson

Rachael Lefevre is an anti-idling spokesperson for the Environmental Media Association. Photo: Gage Skidmore via Compfight cc

Back in July, we wrote about five people and organizations that were doing a great job of spreading awareness about idling. Every week we hear about more people and projects that are working to raise awareness about idling, so it’s already time to expand our list.

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By the Numbers

Currently 50 million households suffer from food insecurity, meaning that family members cannot always meet their basic food needs.

10 million people a year could be fed through the recovery of just one-fifth of food waste.

Only 2% of food waste is composted or otherwise recycled—62% of paper is recycled.

Consumers throw out about 40% of the fresh and frozen fish they buy.

The U.S. produced 208 pounds of meat per person in 2009—60% more than Europe.

Low income commuters spend a much higher proportion of their wages on gas—8.6% versus 2.1% at $4 per gallon.

Food prices rose 35-40 percentage points between 2002–2008.

Americans consume 25% of the world’s produced oil, but our nation holds less than 3% of the world’s proven oil reserves.

The International Energy Agency says greenhouse gas emissions rose 3.2% last year, with a 9.3% increase in China offsetting declines in the US and EU.


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