A Virtual Boot Camp Proves the Power of Video Conferencing As a Green Alternative

Video conferencing as a green alternative could help save oceans

Along with the more headline-grabbing political tussling of the recent G7 summit, there was agreement, of sorts, between some member countries to reduce the amount of plastic pollution entering the world’s oceans.

A group of environmentally aware teenagers–part of the Ocean Heroes Boot Camp–was partly to thank for that agreement between Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and the EU. And supporting the efforts of those more than 1,000 members of the Ocean Heroes Boot Camp is another force–the power of video conferencing.

Of course, there are many facts and figures supporting the claim that using video conferencing in place of physical travel helps the environment. What was interesting about the Ocean Heroes Boot Camp that ultimately contributed in a small way to the partial G7 agreement on plastic waste is that it hinted at the power of video conferencing as a green alternative–not just as an alternative to travel, but as a means of coordinating environmental action.

Video conferencing puts people with shared concerns into a face-to-face conversation, no matter where they are. Those conversations will become critical to the environmental activism of tomorrow.

Video Conferencing for Social Change

Video conferencing is a tool, a communications tool. It’s one of the more effective tools currently available because it recreates intimate human interaction over distance and circumstance, while also making multimedia interaction possible. It is currently being used by charities and social groups to coordinate efforts between branch offices and to recruit people across the globe. It’s also employed by environmental activists such as Global Witness to connect their far-flung field operatives. And, of course, it is being used in schools to expand learning beyond the classroom.

The recent Ocean Heroes Boot Camp mentioned above is a bit of a mix of all those things. Staged in New Orleans in early June, the project brought together more than 1,000 young people aged 11 to 17 in collaboration against plastic pollution. While most of the attendees were on-site in Louisiana, delegates from Vancouver, Nairobi, India, and other locations attended by video conference. During the boot camp, attendees developed campaigns for action to reduce plastic waste that were communicated to world leaders at the G7 summit. The virtual component was supplied by Ocean Wise, a non-profit that gathers people online to help protect the world’s seas. They make earnest clips like this:

Groups like Ocean Wise can bring together school-aged children from New Orleans and Nairobi through video conferencing. It’s a cheap, readily available technology, and it can have a big impact.

Video Calling’s Huge Environmental Impact

A chart shows how telecommuting can be a green alternative

As we mentioned at the top, there are all kinds of statistics and facts that demonstrate how video conferencing benefits the environment directly. VC Daily has previously talked about some of the more impressive, which include the prediction that if just one third of the U.S. workforce stayed home and telecommuted to work just once a week, it would prevent the release of greenhouse gases equivalent to removing 77,000 cars from the nation’s roads for a whole year.

The most important part of that estimate is how little it demands of us. Just one in three staying home once a week. Big impacts are always easiest to achieve when they require us to make very small changes on a personal level.

That’s where the potential for video conferencing to emerge as a conduit to environmental awareness lies. Many of us are already video calling. Most of us are already connected intimately to social media. Video conferencing takes the hassle out of joining up with like-minded people from all over, because it lets you meet and speak as if you were talking to a friend in your own living room.

Video Conferencing As a Green Alternative Meeting Place

It would be difficult to argue that the presentations made on behalf of the Ocean Heroes Boot Camp attendees had a big impact on the agreement struck at the G7 meeting. There’s little doubt, however, that those who attend in person and via the web to share their opinions and put their feelings into a concrete presentation benefited from the experience.

They got the chance to connect with peers in support of a common cause. Moving forward, they will get the chance to stay in touch with those people to plan and execute their own environmental projects. In video conferencing, they have a powerful tool with which to galvanize their opinions into results and feed off the passion and enthusiasm of their peers.

Beneath the actions and the outcomes, beneath the discussions and the planning, video conferencing is giving people a chance to meet, face-to-face, and even be listened to by presidents and prime ministers.

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