When the Steaks are High
This episode focuses on some of the many tactics Green Ninja uses to help save the Earth. This episode takes place in a diner where a mother tells her son more about Green Ninja. As the mother describes what the Green Ninja does to save the earth, we can see him taking action.
Green Ninja paints roofs white at the start of the episode. The mother explains that this keeps homes cool during the summer. This is called a cool roof. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made a small webpage here that lists the benefits of cool roofs such as energy saving, reduced pollution, and improved human health and comfort. If you are curious or interested in cool roofs, you can find a cool roof compendium booklet here which has a large amount of information and data about the many varieties of cool roofs.
The mother also talks about grey water (also called greywater or gray water) which is water that has been used by humans that can still be reused for other purposes. Grey water includes the water from showers, baths, hand washing, and clothes washing. Green Ninja installs a grey water system into this home, this means that all the water that drains from the bathroom sinks, showers, and the clothes washer is stored. The grey water goes into a storage tank that is connected to spigots in the front and back yard. This allows the homeowners to connect a hose to either spigot and use their grey water to water their lawn, gardens, and other domestic plants. The EPA has a PDF presentation about residential grey water systems here and they also wrote an article here that breaks down how recycling water works and explaining the benefits of water recycling.
After installing the grey water system, Green Ninja has some seed packets that he plants in the lawn. This allows the homeowners to grow fresh produce. Many people use their lawn and yard space for decorative plants only, but often times people have what is called a monoculture lawn. Monoculture (mono means one) means the lawn only has one kind of plant and for most people, that is grass. The mother explains that Green Ninja upgrades monoculture lawns into polyculture (“poly” means many) lawns, which support the life of many kinds of plants. Lawns do not have to be completely made up of decorative plants, functional consumable plants like fruits, herbs, and roots are not only delicious, they are cheap to grow and they lower your carbon footprint by reducing your reliance on store-bought produce!
A man is about to fill his car with gasoline when Green Ninja shows up. He transforms the car into an electric vehicle, which is far more environmentally friendly. Regular cars use the combustion of fossil fuels to power the engine, burning fossil fuels releases carbon into the atmosphere. Electric cars do not burn fossil fuels, a bank of very large batteries powers them instead. Electricity is not a one hundred percent clean energy source because a lot of electricity comes from power plants that burn fossil fuels, but by using an electric car, the man reduces his use of fossil fuels and he lowers the demand for gasoline resulting in less drilling, transportation and refining for crude oil which also releases greenhouse gases. The most Earth-friendly way to charge an electric car is to plug it in at charging stations or places that get electricity from plants that use renewable sources.
The mother explains that Green Ninja supports public transportation and carpooling, which is good because more people share one vehicle which means fewer cars are on the road, leading to less carbon being released into the atmosphere. In the episode, you can see that the vehicle behind Green Ninja has a Biodiesel sticker on it. This shows that it runs off a lipid-based form of diesel rather than petroleum-based diesel. Biodiesel is much better for the environment because releases less greenhouse gases and other pollutants when burned, it can be used in any regular diesel engine without any modifications, it is also biodegradable and non-toxic. The EPA has an article here about the production, benefits and regulations on biodiesel in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and the Pacific Islands.
Later on the Green Ninja can be seen running along the bicycle lane, followed by many cyclists. This is because Green Ninja encourages cities to design roads that include bicycle lanes that make the road safer for cyclists. More people riding bicycles lowers the number of cars driving around, which reduces the total carbon emissions released into the atmosphere.
The mother briefly mentions electricity production, some people see electricity as clean energy, but in many places it is not. In the US, most regions rely on power plants that burn fossil fuels to generate electricity. This means that even though the use of electricity does not have any waste product or emissions, the production of electricity usually relies on burning fossil fuels. An effective way to combat this is to reduce your reliance on electricity and avoid wasting electricity.
The hardest part of being a Green Ninja is that you cannot do it alone. Climate change is caused by humanity as a whole; it is too big of a problem for any one person or group to fix. Everyone needs to work together to save the planet. It can be difficult to motivate people to change their habits to save the Earth but everyone needs to reduce their carbon footprint. It is a team effort because we all share this planet.
Green Ninja is working to educate students about climate change to empower the adults of the future to make informed choices. One of the best things people can do for the Earth and for themselves is making good food choices. By eating healthy, locally grown, less processed foods, anyone can lower their carbon footprint, their waste, and their risk of nutrition-related health complications. As an added bonus, eating low carbon foods allows you to explore new flavors or to experience old favorite foods in new ways.
Later on, we see Green Ninja bring a cart to some people who are shopping smart. Looking at these signs from left to right and read below to learn what these symbols mean and how they are beneficial for the consumer and the environment.
USDA Organic: The United States Department of Agriculture has created a certification and approval process for goods labeled organic. This is because many products today claim to be organic without any clarification about what exactly has been done to make the product organic. USDA approval means that the production, the handling, and the final product has been certified as organic, meaning a product without unnecessary processing that is exactly what its label describes.
American Grassfed: This certification means that the American Grassfed Association has verified and approved that animal product. When you see this symbol, this means that the animals used to make this product were fed 100% forage (grasses, legumes, and residue of grainless crops) for their entire lifespan, the animals lived their lives on an open pasture (not in confinement), and they were never treated with hormones or antibiotics.
Sustainable Fibers: This symbol means that the product (usually clothing or a bag) is made from a renewable resource like organic cotton or the extract of certain kinds of rubber. Making cloth out of sustainable fibers means that it can be recycled or reused which greatly reduces waste.
100% Organic Cotton: A marking signifying that a product is made entirely out of organic cotton, this is good because organic cotton is a sustainable fiber.
Fair Trade USA: Fair Trade is a concept that benefits the consumer, the manufacturing employees, and the Earth. This means that the employees of the company that manufactured the product (even workers outside of the US) are paid fair wages, treated with respect, and given safe and healthy working conditions. Fair Trade symbols are usually found on agricultural products imported into the US from other countries to show that the foreign workers who harvested the raw materials and manufactured the product are treated fairly according to a set of strict standards defined by Fair Trade USA.
Bird Friendly: This certification means that the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center has recognized a coffee bean company as a non-destructive business in regards to interfering with bird homes, migration stops and migrating patterns. When coffee beans are marked with the Bird Friendly seal, this means that the beans are organic, grown in high quality shade (this means using trees dense with leaves which doubles as a safe habitat for local and migratory birds), and that the beans have not been diluted or packaged with any filler product.
In this video, you can also see Green Ninja sitting in a business meeting. This is because businesses and organizations are also encouraged to make smart decisions. Green Ninjas work smarter, not just harder. Businesses can make smart decisions by considering the carbon emissions of their actions and purchases. When using airplanes as transportation, businesses can purchase carbon offsets to reduce the increase of carbon footprint from the flight. Organizations that use computers a lot should set their computers to use as little power as possible, enabling a shorter timer for sleep mode, using EnergyStar monitors and using a smart power strip to keep the computer from “sucking up” power (like the AMPire) while it is off. You can see from the poster on the right that the company is discussing their “triple bottom line”. A bottom line is when a company compares production costs for their product against their sales in order to determine the total profit. Profit is not the only bottom line that businesses should analyze, the triple bottom line refers to an analysis of the three P’s: people, planet, and profit. People refers to the impact the product has on the individuals who manufacture, manage, and use it; working on this bottom line means using effective cost distribution practices, ensuring employee welfare, and using fair trade prices. Planet is what we call it when organizations analyze a their total environmental impact by comparing the release of greenhouse gases to any reductions or carbon offsets the business takes part in. Profit is how much money a company earns from producing and selling a product.
Regular people can make smart decisions at home. Switching out incandescent light bulbs for LED lamps is one of the easiest ways to use less electricity and save money. When getting new appliances, homeowners should pick EnergyStar approved appliances because in order to get EnergyStar approval, appliances need to meet a set of rigorous criteria for electrical efficiency. EnergyStar even offers rebates on many appliances sold in the US. You can find a list of rebates available to you here, on EnergyStar’s rebate finder.
The moral of this episode is that every individual making a difference makes a big difference. By doing your part and reducing your carbon footprint, you are participating in the great team effort to save the planet. The boy knows that he can make a difference, so he orders a burger made of sustainable, low carbon produce instead of beef. Like the boy, anyone can make a difference if they know what to do. That is why it is important that everyone learns these Green Ninja techniques because if everyone makes informed decisions to reduce their carbon footprint, we can stop climate change in its tracks!
The Green Ninja Show:
Director: David Chai
Producer: Maaike Scherff
Editor: Keith Silva
Intro by: Mark Wanninger & Michael Salmassian
When the Steaks are High:
Directed and edited by: Babak Sarrafan
Produced by: SJSU Department of Radio, TV, and Film
Story by: Michael Fong
Executive producer: Eugene Cordero
Producers: Fred Guess, Barnaby Dallas
Production manager: Kourosh Ahari
Production coordinator: Katherine Celio
Casting director: Colin Heim
1st AD: Kourosh Ahari
2nd 2nd AD: Elias David
Script supervisor: Alex Rice
Location manager: Gary Bayless
PA: Omar Alcantar
Director of photography: Jim Orr
1st AC: Eric Wong
2nd AC: Joe Mosebar
Cam utility: Mrigesh Parmar
Film loader: Casey Ruiz
Drone operator: Tim Nguyen
Gaffer: Chris Burns
Best boy electric: Edy Topete
Electrics: Christian Murillo, Ashley Valenz
Key grip: Nicholas Yee
Best boy grip: Ryan Mosely
Grips: Jay Francisco, Roberto Zamora, Angel Martin
Swing grip: Ray Arcayena
Art directors: Matt Coignard & Marcus Torres
Prop master: Marcus Torres
Art assistant: Phillip Boudreaux
Set dresser: Eric Farrales
Still photography: JP Emodi
Head of craft services: Ryan Smith
Craft services: Mario Retana
Sound: Jorge, Grant Corvin
Heads of costume/wardrobe: Debbie Weber & Cassandra Carpenter
Key wardrobe: Amy Roberts
Wardrobe: Alyssa Esquilin, Leyla Guven, Brandee Smith, Jennifer Wong
Key makeup: Jazmine Morris
Makeup: Lillian Nguyen, Megan Salazar, Leyla Guven, Andy Sandoval & Nora Dugan
Telecine colorist: Rob Sciarratta, Company 3 New York