Greenpeace and 50 Simple Things

by Mike Gaworecki

April 4, 2008

50 Simple Things coverJohn Javna’s original 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth, released in 1990, was a breakout bestseller. The book contained 50 eco-tips that were a revelation to many people who were just beginning to understand the severity of global warming and waking up to the environmental cause. But, according to Javna, the book ultimately might have been responsible for creating a certain sense of complacency about the problems we face:

Eco-tips alone can never have a significant impact on “saving the earth.” They’re baby steps—and if they don’t lead to something bigger, then we’re in a world of trouble. Literally.

The problem, as Javna saw it when he set out to remedy the situation in the 21st Century edition, which has just been released, was that the original 50 Simple Things “didn’t really educate people about the nature and extent of the environmental problems themselves.” Such a charge will never be leveled at this new edition of the book.

Javna partnered with 50 leading environmental organizations to create mini-primers on 50 of the most pressing environmental issues facing us today. He suggests that you don’t read the book straight through, but instead pick an issue you think you might be interested in working on and start there. The new 50 Simple Things lays out each problem, introduces you to the partner organization for that problem, and provides a basic road-map for action. (I just went ahead and read the book straight through anyway, because I really found it quite horrifying to read about all the problems we face and quite inspiring to read about all the dedicated groups working towards solutions. It was a good read.)

The new 50 Simple Things is still based on a pretty simple idea, and the book is easy to use. There’s really nothing simple about most of the solutions, of course, as the problems are fairly large and complex. And most of the solutions certainly won’t be easy to accomplish. But if even half the people who were inspired by the original 50 Simple Things are galvanized to action by the 21st Century edition, it could be a significant boon to the myriad organizations that make up the environmental movement today.

1Sky partnered with Javna to stop global warming.

Greenpeace partnered with Javna on the issue of pollution in our oceans:

The United Nations estimates that there are 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile in the world’s oceans. Plastic bags in oceans kill a million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals a year.

Visit to learn more about the issue and how you can get involved with Greenpeace.

Help us protect our oceans!

I’ll be guest-blogging on the site very soon. I’ve also been promised a link to a site where Greenpeace members can get a discount on the book. To tide you over, check out the Greenpeace page on the 50 Simple Things site: “The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.” And check out all the other fantastic organizations and causes as well. Like John Javna says: “Just pick a spot and jump in.”

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