Climate Toothpaste: Advancing a Carbon Price using Art and Humor by Climate Toothpaste
Climate Toothpaste helps carbon pricing groups w/ outreach and volunteer recruitment. Get Fresh n' Clean. Climate Toothpaste gets noticed!
I crowd-funded and created Climate Toothpaste in 2016, to help carbon pricing groups recruit volunteers and raise awareness. Our climate crisis is colossal. We need more active volunteers in the movement, and we need to educate people. Climate Toothpaste connects people who care but are not active on climate, to groups that need help. It's an unexpected art object that sparks conversations about climate change. It's not toothpaste! Sorry. The letter inside the box lists climate groups in YOUR home state. I gift Climate Toothpaste to climate groups, including Our Climate, CarbonWA (behind I-732, Washington state's revenue-neutral carbon tax), and some chapters of Citizens Climate Lobby. I also gift and sell it to political candidates who are running on climate, and I sell it on my website climatetoothpaste.com.
In 2016 CarbonWA and Oregon Climate (now Our Climate) used Climate Toothpaste boxes in lobby days in WA and OR, to deliver information about legislation, directly to State Representatives. Camila Thorndike, then-Director of of Oregon Climate said, "Climate Toothpaste, you got the attention of the entire legislature!" Climate Toothpaste is also used on college campuses by Our Climate, recruiting students into the #putapriceonit campaign. This campaign has won endorsements from about 40 US colleges to put a price on carbon, and trains these students to lobby their State Representatives as well. (#putapriceonit is co-run by Our Climate and the cable show Years of Living Dangerously.)
(Above: An Aide to OR Sen. Dembrow, with Camila Thorndike, Director of Oregon Climate, in Salem, OR, 2016.)
(Above: Charlie, Jeremy and Isaac at Oregon Climate’s Youth Lobby Day, in Salem, OR, 2016.)
You can't put a price on starting conversations about climate change. Climate Toothpaste is excellent at outreach: it turns the tedium of tabling into a surprising, engaging experience. Page Atcheson, Executive Director of Our Climate, says, "It's the best thing ever for outreach.”
Is this proposal for a practice or a project?
What actions do you propose?
I would like to expand Climate Toothpaste’s reach by:
• Finding and working with more carbon pricing partners, and other climate groups
• Supporting political candidates who support a carbon price or are running on climate, with Climate Toothpaste (see below: these photos have been updated to reflect recent progress).
(Above: Patrick Thompson, candidate for GA Senate, District 56, at the Netroots Nations progressive conference in August. He has written an order of Climate Toothpaste into his campaign budget.)
(Above: Danielle Meitiv, climate scientist and candidate for Montgomery County, MD Council, with climate scientist Michael Mann at an October campaign event.)
(Above: Don Orange, candidate for Vancouver, WA Port Commission, at an October fundraiser.)
(Above: Climate Toothpaste’s in-kind contribution to Don Orange’s campaign: 50 boxes, letters and custom flyers.)
• Finding high profile activists or celebrities to endorse and help publicize Climate Toothpaste. I can’t help but think that an endorsement from Climate CoLab would help as leverage with this. (Please also note the Michael Mann photo above, and the photo of me with Ken Bone in “Key Benefits.”)
• Creating a presentation for speaking engagements. (Update: I have my first visiting lecture in an Urban Environmental Issues class at Portland State University on 11/9/17. I have also been invited to participate by Skype in a research group called Interventions in Capitalism, taught by Matthew Kenyon at Rhode Island School of Design.)
• Creating a lesson to be used in classrooms
• Researching and attending more events as a Climate Toothpaste presenter, or as a booth
• Hiring a web and social media marketing strategist, to help me sell Climate Toothpaste online, so I can afford to keep my project going
• Creating a Spanish language version of Climate Toothpaste
Who will take these actions?
So far Climate Toothpaste is me, doing everything. I would like to hire someone to do online marketing research and implementation for me. I can do outreach. But online marketing and advertising are beyond my bandwidth and budget.
Here’s a very short list of some people and groups I want to reach out to: the Campaign for a Clean Energy Future, in MA; Senator Sheldon Whitehouse; Elon Musk; Bill Nye the Science Guy, Michael Mann, Neil DeGrasse Tyson; Mark Tercek of the Nature Conservancy; Rose Marcario of Patagonia; Tom Steyer of NextGen; Senator Jeff Merkley; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation; future Democratic Presidential candidates; any coalitions that are working on a carbon price in any state. Also science museum gift shops could be great venues for Climate Toothpaste.
Where will these actions be taken?
My scope is national, so far. On my Climate Toothpaste website I have 50 state-based letters in pdf format available for free download. And Climate Toothpaste is being used on college campuses around the US with Our Climate's #putapriceonit campaign.
(Above: Portland State University students using Climate Toothpaste at a #putapriceonit table during Sustainability Day.)
It seems safe to say that new locations will depend on where I find future partners. This project can also be replicated in other countries.
In addition, specify the country or countries where these actions will be taken.
No country selected
No country selected
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No country selected
What impact will these actions have on greenhouse gas emissions and/or adapting to climate change?
I don't think I have the right type of calculator to answer this question. Climate Toothpaste can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help with climate adaptation, but only by educating and motivating folks to act on climate. However I do have good news: Climate Toothpaste is already doing that job really well. Page Atcheson, Executive Director of Our Climate, says she has seen a 50% increase in volunteer recruitment when Climate Toothpaste is used for tabling.
My main objectives are sparking conversations about climate change, and educating the public. Climate Toothpaste does that two ways. On the front side of my Activist Activator state-based letters is a list of climate groups working in your home state. On the backside is a list of tips to reduce your carbon footprint. You can download all Activist Activator letters for free on my website.
Nationally, students are also being recruited using Climate Toothpaste, into the #putapriceonit carbon pricing campaign. These students are lobbying their university Presidents and State Representatives, to endorse a price on carbon. While my impact may not yet be quantifiable, it certainly trends in the right direction.
(Above and below: a revised version of the Massachusetts Activist Activator letter. This version features groups working on market-driven solutions to climate change. I will mail in hard copies of this revamped letter. You can also see it here.)
What are other key benefits?
Key benefits of the Climate Toothpaste project are:
• Educating the public about carbon pricing groups and climate action
• Volunteer recruitment and outreach for carbon pricing groups and other climate campaigns
• Changing the dynamic of “tabling” for climate groups. If Climate Toothpaste is on your table, people come talk to YOU
(Above: Ken Bone and Heidi Cody at the Netroots Nation conference.)
• Using ingenuity, humor and art to help tackle what is arguably the word’s biggest problem
• Rebranding “Climate” – one of the least sexy topics around
• Bringing up the topic of climate change without doom and gloom. This is not an easy topic to talk to about – especially with strangers
What are the proposal’s projected costs?
Hiring an online marketing expert to design and implement web/social media sales strategy: $23,500/yr (this has been updated after talking to a qualified friend who could help me)
Attending 3-4 national conference per year, and smaller local events: $7,500/yr
Banners and printed materials for Climate Toothpaste/Our Climate tabling events on college campuses: $1500
Documenting Climate Toothpaste being used on college campuses: $3,000
Climate Toothpaste is under two years old and is already having an impact. My goal is to keep the project going by making it solvent, and to expand its reach. I need to hire help to make the project work.
1-15 years: Help every possible carbon pricing group or politician that wants to use Climate Toothpaste for outreach and volunteer recruitment.
Develop a Climate Toothpaste lesson plan and presentation that I can use to support my project. Give talks and educate students from middle school through college.
Continue to network and outreach by attending national conferences and smaller local events.
Inspire other artists to tackle this problem in novel ways.
Possible expansion into other countries.
Create a Spanish version of Climate Toothpaste.
15-50 years: Inspire other artists to tackle this problem in novel ways.
Possible expansion into other countries.
50-100 years: I'll be dead, but my five-year old daughter loves Climate Toothpaste. She wants to help.
About the author(s)
My name is Heidi Cody and I live just outside Portland, in Vancouver WA. I am mom to a 5-year old, and am a climate activist and visual artist. I have a B.A. from Wesleyan University ('91) and and M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago ('96). I've been an artist for almost 20 years. You can see my newly revamped art website at heidicody.com. My art makes fun of American consumer culture. I was raised in Paris, France until I was 8. My dad would not get a color t.v. when we moved back to the U.S. He told me it would distort my sense of reality. I blame him for all my creative work.
I became a climate activist when I went to the Earth Day march in 2014 in Portland and thought, Where are all the people? This is Portland! This is the word's biggest problem! I first joined Citizens Climate Lobby, did a couple fundraisers for them, and then got involved with Oregon Climate and CarbonWA. I was a de-facto organizer for Clark County WA on I-732, the revenue-neutral carbon tax initiative. I wish I-732 had passed.
It's really hard to be an artist and a climate activist and a Mom. So I fused my artwork with my activism and came up with Climate Toothpaste. It's still hard, but much better.
I have lived in Connecticut (4 yrs), Paris (8 yrs), Chicago (4 yrs), New York (10 yrs), Savannah (2 yrs), and have been back home in the Pacific Northwest for 7 years.
Our Climate’s proposal for Carbon Pricing, Put a Price On It, relates to my proposal. Our Climate is a partner organization that I gift Climate Toothpaste to, and #putapriceonit uses Climate Toothpaste effectively for recruitment. I have also been a core volunteer for Our Climate for three years.
Please note: A variation of this application is also a semi-finalist in the “Shifting Attitudes and Behaviors” category.