Sustainability Not A Game

Earth Alert More Than A Game

Can you make it to the recycling center before using your last unit of oxygen? Do you know what percentage of the world’s energy the United States uses?

A new board game that combines environmental trivia with actual planet-saving activities has hit the store shelves. While playing Earth Alert, participants can learn about recycling, rainforests, conservation, pollution, and the ozone layer. And they can also have fun.

forest conservation and climate change mitigation

Creators Michael Schiller and Michael Stusser say they developed the game to raise consciousness about the Earth and illustrate ways in which individuals can make a difference.

“Along with fun, we offer solutions,” Stusser said. “The game has an active component which gets players to participate in environmental activities.”

At the beginning of a game, Earth Alert players are given six oxygen units. The goal is to advance to three different recycle centers by answering trivia questions, guessing correct definitions (with false ones being created by opposing players) or deciphering roles that are acted out verbally by other participants. Wrong answers cost one oxygen unit.

For example, here is one trivia question: True or false? Each year the United States generates enough garbage to fill a convoy of trash trucks that would reach all the way to the moon. The answer is false — the convoy would only reach halfway.

The active part of the game occurs at the recycle centers. Cards chosen at the centers require action, such as finding a light in the house that doesn’t need to be on, writing a note to a senator or checking for leaking faucets. These activities are rewarded with another unit of oxygen.

“When people finish playing, we want their homes to be more beneficial to the environment,” Stusser said. “And if they want more oxygen, they have to do something. Ultimately, to make a difference, individuals are going to have to change their own behavior.”

To promote even more action, many of the game cards list phone numbers and addresses so players have the chance to follow up on certain environmental topics.

All items included in Earth Alert are made from recycled materials. The game itself is sealed with small adhesive paper tabs, rather than shrink-wrapped in plastic.

Five percent of the game’s profits go to environmental groups, Stusser said — one percent each to the Rainforest Action Network, the Trust for Public Land, the Earth Island Institute, Greenpeace and Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs).

Earth Alert is now available at stores in 40 states, or through the mail-order catalogs of Greenpeace or the Real Goods Trading Co. For more information, call (206) 324-2362, or write Earth Alert, P.O. Box 20790, Seattle, WA 98102.

Earth Tip: The United States consumes 33 percent of all the energy used in the world, more than any other country.

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