Green is Universal

Happy Earth Day!

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Earth Day began as the dream of Senator Gaylord Nelson, who took action by harnessing the energy of the student anti-war movement and channeling it into a “national teach-in on the environment” on April 22, 1970. The results were inspiring: people of all ages, backgrounds, classes, and political affiliations joined together in a demonstration of 20 million — the largest in American history. Earth Day’s massive display of public consciousness around pollution and wildlife endangerment succeeded in putting environmental protection and sustainability onto the national agenda. (Learn more about the history of Earth Day here.)

This inaugural Earth Day event helped produce the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and better enforcement of the Clean Air Act, as well as the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). We still have a long way to go in preserving and protecting our planet, but we have accomplished a lot since one person’s green dream became a reality.

While recycling and reducing waste remain critical to conserving the planet, new technologies and ideas are revolutionizing how we can imagine a greener future. That’s why this Earth Week, we’re encouraging our supporters to try new ways to live green, use green technology, create green spaces, and build green communities. Here are a few wonderful things we thought you should know about:

  • Tiny homes require fewer resources to be built, need less energy for heat and power, and reduce the accumulation of waste. Residential houses are responsible for roughly 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, emitting 28,000 pounds of carbon dioxide every year. Living in a tiny house generates roughly 2,000 pounds, thereby drastically reducing environmental impact.
  • New technologies help reduce energy use at home by letting people turn off lights remotely, optimizing heating and cooling based on personal preferences, and detecting human motion to power down rooms when not in use.
  • Adding trees and plants to homes and work spaces helps the environment and improves comfort by removing pollutants from the air, reducing heat buildup, and lowering energy consumption. Green rooftops can reduce the energy needed to cool the floor below by upwards of 50 percent.
  • Commitment to the preservation of natural spaces has led to a rise in land-sharing, which makes more green spaces available to adventurers, keeps natural habitats “natural”, and creates communities where campers can connect with landowners to help maintain their land.
  • Farmers markets and digital food hubs connect communities to local food sources and increase access to fresh foods, reduce food waste by harvesting only what is needed, and shortens the distance that food travels. Food travels over 1,000 miles on average to the retail store where it is sold; produce from local or regional sources travels roughly 27 times less the distance than conventionally-sourced produce.

New environmentally-conscious products, services, and technologies are helping us live greener every year. Earth Day is our opportunity to celebrate the creative and innovative ways people are making—and transforming—eco-friendly lifestyle choices. This annual day of awareness and action reminds us that we must protect the world and its natural resources – together.

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Universal Orlando Resort: Where Excitement Meets Environmentalism

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From the moment your vacation begins at Universal Orlando Resort, the theme park’s sustainability initiatives help to reduce the impact that your visit has on the environment.

Upon arrival, the valet offers a Chargepoint electric vehicle charger to power your car while you enjoy the resort’s attractions and amenities. All four on-site hotels are certified members of the Florida Green Lodging Program, which recognizes lodging facilities committed to conserving and protecting Florida’s natural resources. From three of the hotels, you can head to both theme parks and CityWalk via water taxis that are fueled by biodiesel. In fact, all of the resort’s vehicles are powered by biodiesel fuel, a cleaner-burning alternative to gasoline.

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The maps you’ll grab to navigate Universal Orlando’s rides and activities are not only printed on paper made from environmentally responsible sources, but they’ll also remind you to recycle in one of the 2,500 recycling locations throughout the resort. Each recycling bin located throughout the resort is clearly marked with the traditional triangle logo, but blends in with the surrounding theme to preserve the atmosphere of each unique location.

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Every dining location works to minimize its impact on the environment. By implementing environmentally-conscious kitchen practices, 953 tons of organic food waste were diverted from landfills in 2015. To put that into perspective, the amount of food waste diverted weighs roughly the same as 475 fully loaded roller coaster trains! Additionally, unused or unsold food is donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank, a local non-profit organization. Combined with guest and employee recycling, these behind-the-scenes actions led to over 19 percent of total park waste being diverted from landfills last year and sent instead to a recovery facility.

The plants and greenery you see throughout the parks are maintained with all-natural environmentally-friendly gardening practices. These include the use of coffee grounds to supplement nutrients in potting soil and replacing standard fertilizers and insecticides with fish oil and organic fertilizers made from natural ocean minerals.

Many of the lights used to illuminate your favorite rides and attractions are LED bulbs. LEDs save energy compared to traditional fluorescent or incandescent bulbs. In 2015, Universal Orlando Resort saved 2.3 million kilowatt hours annually by converting more lighting to LED.

Designing parks that both promote eco-friendly practices and enhance the visitor experience exemplifies NBCUniversal’s commitment to leading the way in entertainment and environmental responsibility. At Universal Orlando Resort, creating memorable vacations and a more sustainable future are one and the same.

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NBCUniversal Honored for Its Sustainable Film and Television Productions

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NBCUniversal is dedicated to integrating sustainability into our television and film productions – both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. At the 25th Environmental Media Awards this past October, the Environmental Media Association (EMA) recognized this commitment by honoring 23 NBCUniversal productions with an EMA Green Seal rewarding excellence in implementing sustainable production practices. With 23 EMA Green Seals, NBCUniversal won more awards than any other studio this year – and our highest number of awards in a single year.

Below is a complete list of NBCUniversal productions receiving a 2015 EMA Green Seal. Check out our new sustainable production infographics to explore how NBCUniversal’s filmmakers and crewmembers are reducing their environmental impact.

Universal Pictures

  • Steve Jobs
  • The Boss
  • Lonely Island
  • The Huntsman

Universal Television

  • About a Boy – Season 2
  • Allegiance – Season 1
  • Bates Motel – Season 3
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine – Season 2
  • Chicago Fire – Season 3
  • Grimm – Season 4
  • Heroes Reborn – Season 1
  • Master of None – Season 1
  • The Mindy Project – Season 3
  • Parenthood – Season 5
  • Shades of Blue – Season 1
  • The Slap
  • State of Affairs – Season 1
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – Season 1

Universal Cable Productions

  • Defiance – Season 3
  • Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce – Season 2
  • Robot – Season 1
  • Royal Pains – Season 7
  • Suits – Season 5
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#GIFtATree Gives New Life to Pike National Forest

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“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Buffalo Creek Fire of 1996 and record-breaking Hayman Fire of 2002 devastated Colorado’s Upper South Platte Watershed, burning thousands of acres and destroying future seed sources for natural tree regeneration. This month, Green Is Universal is contributing to the area’s reforestation through the planting of 25,000 trees in Pike National Forest.

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Each year, Green Is Universal partners with the Arbor Day Foundation for an annual tree planting initiative. Our 2015 holiday #GIFtATree campaign pledged one real tree for every animated GIF(t) that participants created and shared, funded by a $25,000 contribution to the Arbor Day Foundation. Our donation contributed to the 116,000 total trees being planted at this scenic park in central Colorado.

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Due to the social media activism inspired by our campaign, thousands of Douglas-firs and ponderosa pines will now grace 1,200 acres of Pike National Forest. Such replanting is critical in areas damaged by wildfires, where natural regeneration is no longer possible. This year’s #GIFtATree campaign transformed posts into trees – using social media support to create and protect vital wildlife habitats and beautiful green landscapes for future generations.

Learn more about the Arbor Day Foundation’s reforestation project here.

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NBCUniversal Productions Donate Food, Aid in the Fight Against Hunger

In the U.S. up to 40% of food goes to waste, while annually 49 million Americans suffer from food insecurity. In an effort to reduce waste and feed those that are in need, NBCUniversal film and television productions donate excess food to the communities in which they film. In 2015, nearly 34,000 pounds of excess food, equating to over 26,000 meals, were donated from 33 NBCUniversal film and television productions in six cities across North America.

Started in 2009, the NBCUniversal Sustainable Production Program connects TV and film productions with local non-profits that serve the hungry. When a show is in production, crews that often number over 100 are fed two meals daily. Despite careful planning by the production and catering company, there always seems to be a little food leftover. This high quality food is wrapped up and kept at a safe temperature until the time of donation. Local non-profits collect the food and immediately feed hungry people.

Food donations come from shows produced under Universal Pictures, Focus Features, Universal Television and Universal Cable Productions, spanning across North America.  For example, in Toronto, USA’s Suits, NBC’s Heroes Reborn, and SyFy’s 12 Monkeys and Defiance donated to local organizations, Second Harvest and Good Sheppard. In NYC, Focus Feature’s upcoming release, The Book of Henry, USA’s Mr. Robot, NBC’s Shades of Blue, and Universal Television-produced Master of None (Netflix) and The Path (Hulu) all donated food with the help of the poverty think tank and the food recovery organization, Rock and Wrap It Up! The organization also coordinated donations from feature films produced around the US including Universal Picture’s June 2016 release Pop Star: Never Stop Never Stopping.

In Los Angeles, NBC’s Telenovela, Crowded, Superstore, and Hollywood Game Night donated food through the Universal Lot’s partnership with Food Finders. In addition to the production food donations, the Universal City Studio’s employee commissary, operated under Wolfgang Puck, donated excess food to Chefs to End Hunger, recovering 13,275 lbs. in 2015, which is the equivalent of 10,212 meals.

The NBCUniversal Sustainable Production Program is part of NBCUniversal’s ongoing commitment to both sustainability and fighting hunger in local communities.

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NBCUniversal Releases New Sustainable Production Infographics

Film and television production is fast-paced and transient, therefore, NBCUniversal created a simple, easy to use visual guide which illustrates sustainable production best practices. Built upon the detailed Green is Universal Sustainable Production Guide, the infographics inspire our productions to strive to implement as many best practices as possible.

Used with over 60 productions produced under Universal Pictures, Focus Features, Universal Television and Universal Cable Productions each year, these infographics educate filmmakers and crewmembers how to reduce their environmental impact through energy efficiency, water conservation, responsible waste management and sustainable sourcing of materials.

The infographics are broken down into three key areas; Production Office, Stages and Construction Mill, and shooting On Location. Starting when the Production Office opens, productions work to reduce, reuse and recycle. One key area is paper use. NBCU productions purchase paper that is made from recycled material and distribute information digitally as much as possible. For instance, Jurassic World achieved a 50% reduction in paper use when compared to a similar sized tentpole production.

When constructing film sets, efforts are made to source sustainable materials. For example, sets on USA’s Mr. Robot, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, produced by Universal Television for Netflix, are made from plywood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).   In Vancouver, Fifty Shades of Grey also built sets with FSC certified plywood and faux walls made from recycled content material. At wrap, the sets were stored be reused on the sequels.

While shooting on stage, productions work to reduce the energy they use. When filming in Atlanta, Furious 7 utilized LED set lighting and tied into the electric grid in place of generators, avoiding the use of over 16,500 gallons of fossil fuel. For the 2015-2016 TV season, Universal Television nearly tripled its use of LED lighting on productions shooting on the Universal Studios lot.

On location, productions look for ways to reduce carbon emissions and give back to the communities in which they film. Shot in NYC, Trainwreck and NBC series Shades of Blue both used B20 biodiesel in their generators, and Sisters engaged the crew to be creative with sustainability practices by hosting contests like the “Green Crew Challenge.” Straight Outta Compton, filmed in the Los Angeles area, donated 2,571 lbs. of excess food from crew catering, the equivalent of 1,936 meals, to local organizations. In 2015, NBCUniversal productions donated nearly 34,000 pounds of leftover catering, equating to over 26,000 meals, from 33 NBCUniversal film and television productions in six cities across North America.

Even animated productions, like Minions, make an effort to reduce their carbon footprint. Illumination Entertainment performed hundreds of remote records, connecting 10 different studios throughout the US and Europe via ISDN hook-ups. This allowed directors to record and direct talent without flying anyone to a common location.

Explore the Green is Universal Film and TV pages to learn more about how NBCUniversal’s productions have gone green behind the scenes.

(Click on each infographic to view in detail.)

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Thank You for Helping Us #GIFtATree!

As part of our annual holiday tree planting initiative in December 2015, we invited you to #GIFtATree to the environment by creating festive, animated GIFs or using #GIFtATree on social media. For each action, we pledged to plant real trees in a state park or national forest, funded by a $25,000 contribution from NBCUniversal to the Arbor Day Foundation.

Thanks to your efforts, we’ll be planting 25,000 trees in Pike National Forest. The Colorado park is known for its scenic landscape with many waterfalls and exposed granite rock.

Thank you for helping us #GIFtATree!

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Join us for the #GIFtATree Twitter Party!

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Did you know that one tree provides oxygen for up to four people in one day? Or that one tree can absorb more than a ton of carbon in its lifetime? Trees are a vital part of our ecosystem and that’s why we team up with the Arbor Day Foundation every year to help plant more trees. This year, our season of giving campaign is #GIFtATree and we’d love your support for this wonderful cause.

It’s simple. Once the campaign launches on December 2nd:

  • Go to greenisuniversal.com to create and share a holiday GIF, or use #GIFtATree in your social posts.
  • For every GIF shared and #GIFtATree generated before the end of December, the Arbor Day Foundation (ADF) will plant one real tree, up to 25,000, in a state park or national forest, funded by a $25,000 contribution from NBCUniversal.

To kick off the campaign, we’re having a Twitter party during the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting event. We’ll be chatting about how to have a more eco-friendly holiday season, as well as asking people to #GIFtATree.

We have a great (and still growing) line-up of panelists!

We hope you’ll join us!

WHEN: Tuesday, December 2nd from 8-10pmET/5-7pmPT

WHERE: Anyone can join in by following the hashtag #GIFtATree on Twitter.

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25 Easy Ways to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

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Did you know that levels of common pollutants in indoor air can be 2-5 times higher (and sometimes up to 100 times higher) than outdoor air? Given the fact that we spend 80-90 percent of our time indoors, every step we can take to clean up indoor air counts. Breathe easier using these 25 ways to improve your indoor air quality.

Here are two tips from our free “One Small Act” social gaming platform that has hundreds of ways to green your life.

Get a houseplant to improve indoor air quality.

Houseplants are always a welcome addition to any home. But they can leave us with more than beauty. Choose the right varieties and you’ll grow healthier indoor air, too. Pretty cool.

In the 1980s, NASA scientists researching air quality in space discovered that many houseplants excel at absorbing common toxic substances like formaldehyde, benzene, and acetone from indoor air. Studies also show that rooms filled with house plants typically contain 50 to 60 percent fewer mold spores and bacteria. These air quality improvements can make a big difference. According to researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, cleaning up indoor air pollution could save the country up to $4 billion by reducing asthma and allergies, and another $14 billion in medical costs associated with respiratory disease.

The more plants you use, the healthier your air will be. But it doesn’t take a lot—one study found that small groups of Janet Craig (if you’re no gardener, that’s actually the name of a plant) and sweet chico plants placed in indoor spaces reduced levels of certain gases up to 75 percent. Bonus: they look nice.

Here are the top 10 most effective purifying plants:

1. Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata Bostoniensis)

2. Areca Palm (Chyrsalidocarpus lutescens)

3. Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa)

4. Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)

5. Rubber Plant (Ficus robusta)

6. Dracaena Janet Craig (Dracaena deremensis)

7. English Ivy (Hedera helix)

8. Dwarf Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii)

9. Ficus Alii (Ficus macleilandii alii)

10. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum sp.)

Find a DIY cleaning recipe.

The ingredients in some conventional cleaning products can negatively impact both personal health and the environment. While green alternatives from natural product companies tend to be free of the worst offending chemicals, and are usually plant (not petroleum) based, consumers should still read ingredient lists and fine print when shopping.

There’s another alternative: to truly know what’s in your cleaning products, make your own using safe-for-the-environment-and-you household staples like vinegar, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, washing soda, salt, and baking soda. Many of these ingredients and DIY formulas have been used for generations and get the job done. Bonus: making your own can save you money.

Laundry detergents, window cleaners, furniture polish, the internet is filled with “recipes” for safe and effective cleaning products you can make at home. Get started today using some of the recipes below!

Check out all of these awesome ideas from some of our favorite green bloggers:

Learn more and take action on One Small Act – our digital platform where you can earn points for living lighter on the planet and connect with others doing the same!

(Are you a blogger? Sign up here to learn about future opportunities to be featured on our blog.)

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Creative & Unexpected Ways to Reduce, Reuse & Recycle

 

You’ve probably heard the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra about a million times. That’s because it’s been a key pillar of the green living and conservation movements since the first Earth Day in 1970. By now, you might respond with a mental “I know, I know, I know.” But are you doing, doing, doing? You probably recycle your aluminum and paper. Maybe you reuse glass food jars for future food storage. And perhaps you take steps to reduce by being a conscious consumer. Anything and everything you’re doing deserves a pat on the back! But today we’re challenging you to do a little more – and we have plenty of ideas and inspiration to get you going.

Here are three tips from our free “One Small Act” social gaming platform that has hundreds of ways to green your life.

Recycle a pair of old running shoes or sneakers.

If you think your smelly old athletic shoes are good for little more than stinking up a landfill, here’s some news that will send you running for the closet: just like your used bottles, cans, and newspapers, athletic shoe soles can easily be reincarnated as something new after they’ve crossed their last finish line.

Most athletic shoes are made from synthetic rubber and other materials that are perfectly recyclable no matter how dreadful their condition may seem. From running tracks and basketball courts to playgrounds and carpet padding, even the worst offenders can be turned into the very things they once played upon. The midsole foam from 2,500 pairs of sneakers, for example, can be recycled into a tennis court. And it takes up to 75,000 pairs to make a soccer field!

You can’t toss old footwear into your curbside bin along with your usual recyclables because most recycling operations aren’t set up to handle their unique materials.

That said, with more people realizing that shoe recycling is a great way to tread more lightly on the earth, it’s becoming simpler to do. Check out RecycledRunners to see if there are resources near you.

Use a reusable moving box instead of cardboard.

Moving is a drag. It’s also not the eco-friendliest experience. To lower the eco-impact of your move and save some trees—not to mention tape—try renting reusable plastic moving boxes.

Plastic boxes aren’t perfect. They’re heavy—which adds up when you load them into a gas-guzzling truck. They’re made from a nonrenewable resource (though some are recycled plastic) and must be carefully recycled at the end of their useful life. Some companies say their lifespan is 200 uses, others claim 400. But on average they’re a better bet than cardboard boxes, even ones containing recycled content—whether you take them from your local supermarket and liquor store or you buy them new. Recycling cardboard does eventually produce waste. And there’s a considerable amount of shipping involved between recycling plants, cardboard manufacturers, and the stores that sell the boxes.

There are added benefits to reusable bins that cardboard can’t match. First, if it rains, you’re in luck. Plastic bins don’t get soggy. Second, rental periods are usually a few weeks, which means you have a set unpacking date. No more leaving boxes unopened for months post-move! And no more breaking down and recycling empties.

Find a local reusable moving box company. They’re easier to find in cities. Rental fees are similar to buying cardboard boxes, depending on where you live. The system works best if you’re moving close by. It’s trickier if your move is cross-country.

Opt for towels and clothes for packing fragile items, instead of bubble wrap and other disposables.

Challenge a co-worker to a day of going paperless.

Offices are involved in the world’s greatest paper chase, a race our forests end up losing.

The average office employee generates approximately 1.5 pounds (.7 kg) of waste paper every workday for a less-than-grand total of 350 pounds (159 kg) per year. In an office with just 30 people that’s an annual waste stream of five tons. Not all of this waste gets recycled. According to the EPA, about 37 percent of the paper we use is entombed forever in landfills as pure waste.

Some 42 percent of the industrial wood harvest is used to make paper, and the industry itself is the 4th leading manufacturing-related emitter of greenhouse gases in the U.S. If America could cut its office paper use by just 10 percent, we’d prevent 1.6 million tons of those emissions. That’s like taking 280,000 cars off the road!

Challenge a co-worker to a day of going paper free (you have to do it, too)! See if you can make it the whole day. It may require the focus and determination of an Olympic athlete, but you know what they say: practice makes perfect.

Here are some tips to help you in your quest:

  • Suggest meeting hosts email agendas and any necessary information to attendees electronically instead of as paperwork.
  • Encourage meeting attendees use smart phones, tablets, or laptops instead of paper for note keeping and document sharing.
  • Post-meeting, remind hosts that meeting minutes or reports can be sent electronically as well.
  • Edit files electronically instead of printing them out.
  • Try taking notes digitally instead of in a notebook.

Need more inspiration? Check out all of these awesome ideas from some of our favorite green bloggers:

Learn more and take action on One Small Act – our digital platform where you can earn points for living lighter on the planet and connect with others doing the same!

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