Sarah Heinz House hosts an Earth Day event with EPA administrator


EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson shakes hands with kids from the Sarah Heinz House Boys and Girls Club after the Earth Day Live with Energy Star event on April 21. (Photo/Kelly Thomas)

Unbeknownst to those living in them, many households hide a nefarious vampire population.

But these vampires don’t suck blood. They suck energy from your sockets — they’re your appliances and chargers, the ones you leave plugged in all the time even when you’re not using them.

On Wednesday, March 21, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson explained how to prevent these “vampires” from sucking up extra energy at Sarah Heinz House during Earth Day Live with Energy Star — an event that was also broadcast over the internet.

“Make sure you aren’t helping the vampire population in your house,” Jackson said. “When you finish charging your video game, take the charger out of the wall.”

About 200 kids from Sarah Heinz’s Boys and Girls Club gathered in the gym and asked questions of Jackson that ranged from “How can I help the environment” to “What is the EPA?”

Jackson also took video questions from Boys and Girls Club members around the country that had been recorded via Skype, a program that allows users to chat over the internet using sound and video.

The first question, from a youth in Washington State, was “What is Energy Star?”

Enrgey Star brand manager Maria Vargas, who moderated the event, asked the audience if anyone knew the answer before explaining, “What EPA is trying to do with Energy Star is make sure we use energy really efficiently.” She encouraged the children to ask if their parents and schools are using Energy Star appliances.

After that, Vargas stepped aside and let Jackson handle the questions. David, a fourteen-year-old member the Sarah Heinz Boys and Girls Club, asked “What is the most important environmental issue we should know about?”

Jackson said that youth should focus on the issues they can affect, such as recycling and saving electricity.

“Get outside and save some energy,” she said.

After another club member asked for five ways she could help the environment at home, Jackson led the room in brainstorming ideas. The final list included the basics: recycle, turn off the lights when you leave the room, save water by taking shorter showers and turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth, unplug appliances that aren’t in use and turn the heat down.

One question from New York brought up the topic of global warming and whether or not it really existed.

“There’s always going to be some debate about it, and the EPA is on the side of those who believe it exists,” Jackson said. But, she added, President Obama is encouraging Americans to focus on clean energy rather than debate global warming.

“When you save energy, you’re actually helping some kid somewhere who might have asthma,” she said, although she admitted the effects that saving energy — and therefore burning less coal and natural gas that pollutes the air — will have on air quality are a long way away.

That discussion brought up another topic. Specifically, “Where does energy come from, and are we going to run out?”

Jackson described a few sources of energy and had the children guess which she was talking about. Then she explained the difference between fossil fuels and renewable energy sources, like solar or wind power.

“Fossil Fuels really come from, I hate to say it, dead plants and animals,” she said with a grimace.

Although Jackson didn’t know the answer to one boy’s question of how many trees are cut down each day, she did say that it was okay to use trees as long as we plant more to make up for the loss.

Because Jackson didn’t have enough time to answer every child’s question, she left them with one final admonition — save energy.

“It’s the one thing we can all do, it’s not that hard, and it makes a huge difference.”

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