December 16, 2021

What's Your 2022 Climate Resolution?

by How to Save a Planet

Background show artwork for How to Save a Planet

At the end of every episode of this show, we give you all calls to action – things that you, our listeners, can do to address climate change. This week, we’re giving ourselves some calls to action, and setting climate action New Year's Resolutions. Oddly enough, they have to do with rats, poutine, Delia’s jeans, and more. Also, Mr. Beast is back with another environmental stunt, and we’ve got an update for you.

Calls to Action

  • Set your climate action New Years Resolution! If you’re not sure what to do, try making the climate action Venn diagram we talked about in the episode, Is Your Carbon Footprint BS?!. And once you’ve set one, send us a voice memo about it here!
  • Mr. Beast is trying to raise 30 million dollars to remove 30 million pounds of trash from oceans, rivers, and beaches! Get involved at and check out our episode 20 Million Trees. You can also learn more about what the ocean and plastic have to do with climate change in our episodes An Origin Story of the Blue New Deal and Recyling! Is it BS?

Check out our Calls to Action archive for all of the actions we've recommended on the show. Send us your ideas or feedback with our Listener Mail Form. Sign up for our newsletter here. And follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

This episode of How to Save a Planet was produced by Anna Ladd. The rest of our reporting and producing team includes Kendra Pierre-Louis, Rachel Waldholz, and Hannah Chinn. Our supervising producer is Lauren Silverman. Our editor is Caitlin Kenney. Our intern is Nicole Welch. Sound design and mixing by Peter Leonard and Lonnie Ro with original music from Peter Leonard and Emma Munger. Our fact checker for this episode was James Gaines.

Where to Listen


Alex Blumberg: Welcome to How to Save a Planet. I'm Alex Blumberg, and this is the show where we talk about what we need to do to address climate change, and how we make those things happen.

Alex: So as many of you probably already know, at the end of every episode of this show we give you all calls to action: things that you, our listeners, can do right now to address climate change. And sometimes when you do them, you call us up and tell us about it.

[Jeremy: A few minutes ago, I left messages in mailboxes of two senators and two congressmen.]

[Amanda: I led an hour-long online workshop titled "Stewarding Our Planet with Hope, Joy and Meaningful Action."]

[Smilla: I started making a video to serve as an invite to a letter-writing campaign addressed to the CEO of Shell.]

[Jeff: I have found ways to get involved in climate action as a conservative.]

[Chad: After six years of saving, I was finally able to buy an electric car of my own.]

Alex: So cool! Letter-writing campaigns, EVs. We love to see it. And it's an example of what we've talked about in previous episodes: one of the most important things we can all do isn't just to act but to share our actions, share what we're doing. Because when you talk about it, other people can get on board and your individual action starts to ripple. So as we head into the New Year, four members of the How to Save a Planet team and I have set some climate action new year's resolutions that we're gonna share with you. Oddly enough, they involve rats, poutine, Delia's jeans and more. That's coming up after the break.


Alex: Welcome back. And as promised, we're here sharing the How to Save a Planet team's climate action new year's resolutions. And joining me on this tour de resolution is the team member who is most enthusiastic about setting resolutions: Anna Ladd!

Anna Ladd: Hello!

Alex: Any favorite resolutions from years past?

Anna: Probably the most successful was that seven years ago I said, "Before next year I would be vegan."

Alex: And that was seven years ago?

Anna: Seven years ago now.

Alex: Going strong.

Anna: I don't know about strong, but going. [laughs]

Alex: [laughs] You're still a vegan seven years later. What else?

Anna: Let's see. In my free time, I like to write music. So for the last few years I've given myself, like, songwriting challenges.

Alex: Mm-hmm.

Anna: So, like, for the year, like, try a new instrument or try a different genre.

Alex: Gotcha. I'm not a big resolution setter because I like to just—I don't like all that pressure.

Anna: You like to go with the flow.

Alex: If it's gonna happen, it'll happen. So as the number one resolution setter on the team, why don't you lead the way. What is your climate resolution, Anna Ladd?

Anna: My climate resolution is to volunteer at a community garden.

Alex: Oh!

Anna: I wanted to do, I guess, something food related because that seems to be, like, the part of the climate puzzle that interests me the most.

Alex: Mm-hmm.

Anna: And when I think about our very big and complicated and overwhelming food system, community and urban gardens feel like this little bright spot.

Alex: Yeah.

Anna: If I could imagine, like, a future sort of climate-friendly food system, I would want more of that. So why not participate in it?

Alex: Right. The more food that you grow in a community garden means the less food that is, like, being trucked around the world.

Anna: Exactly.

Alex: Yeah.

Anna: And there are also some practical reasons why these are good too.

Alex: Oh yeah?

Anna: Which are: do you know the urban heat island effect?

Alex: Because there's so many buildings and the buildings are made out of, like, stone that they just sort of collect the heat?

Anna: Yes. That and the dark roads. So urban areas tend to be degrees warmer than nearby non-urban areas.

Alex: Right.

Anna: And urban green spaces help mitigate that.

Alex: Right.

Anna: And they help reduce flooding risks from stormwater runoff.

Alex: Right!

Anna: So they're also a good, like, adaptation tool as the climate changes.

Alex: You know, all these are sound, solid. I'm for it. My one drawback: you know who else volunteers at community gardens?

Anna: I do not.

Alex: Rats.

Anna: I willingly moved to New York. I feel like I have sort of signed up to being in proximity to rats.

Alex: Right.

Anna: I once lived in an apartment where there was, like, a restaurant next to it, and the rats got into the dumpsters outside of it and then into the basement below my building. And when we told our management about it, they sent exterminators to kill the rats in the basement, but not remove them. And then the entire building got infested with thousands and thousands of giant flies because they did not remove the rats.

Alex: Gross!

Anna: And when I begged them to exterminate the flies, they didn't. So I killed them myself and I put them in a Ziploc bag. And then I brought the Ziploc bag to the management office and was like, "Here's the giant flies. I killed them all myself."

Alex: [laughs]

Anna: And they said, "They're not that big." So I simply feel there's no amount of rats that can threaten me out of the community garden. I've seen it all. I lived in Philadelphia in my formative years. [laughs]

Alex: I think you'll have no problem keeping this resolution.

Anna: I cannot wait to add this to this year's list, which also includes writing songs with my electric kalimba.

Alex: [laughs]

Anna: Now Alex, what is your climate resolution?

Alex: I resolve to run for the board of my condo building. [laughs]

Anna: Please explain how this is a climate resolution.

Alex: So I live in a multi-unit residential building, And so for people who live in these apartments, and if they wanted to sort of like install solar panels or change the way their heat is delivered, or do any of these things that you can sort of do as a homeowner to improve efficiency and green your living arrangement, the way that those decisions are made—I believe—is through the board. And so by being on the board, I can try to do something that I would do on my own, like maybe install solar panels, but bring it to the whole building. And maybe if the whole building does it, it'll have a bigger impact. So that's the idea here.

Anna: That's the thesis?

Alex: That's the thesis.

Anna: How does this work, though? Like, do you have to make posters with your face on them?

Alex: [laughs] How do I run for condo board?

Anna: Yeah.

Alex: Well, my understanding is that, in order for new members to be elected to the board, the main thing you need is a quorum at the meeting. [laughs]] So you've got to get, like, a bunch of people to come to a board meeting. I think that's job number one is get people to show up to the meeting, and then they got to vote for you once they do.

Anna: Mm-hmm.

Alex: And so my first step is to talk with somebody on the board. And then my second step is to sort of like come up with, like, "If elected, here's what's in it for you."

Anna: Give me a sample speech.

Alex: I'll give you a sample speech if you play me one of your songs.

Anna: That is embarrassing, but I will do it so that I can hear your speech.

Alex: Well, I do happen to have a little something written down.

Anna: Do you?

Alex: Hey How to Save a Planet engineer and composer Peter Leonard, can you get some patriotic music for us?


Alex: Okay, perfect. All right, here goes. "Good evening, friends, New York City residents, fellow condo-dwellers. I'm Alex Blumberg, and I'd like your vote for board. We may all dwell in this condo together, but do you know where we also dwell? Planet Earth. And if you've been paying attention to the news recently, you may also know that Planet Earth is in trouble. But we, right here in this very condo building, we can do something about it: we can recycle, we can compost, we can install energy-efficient appliances. And maybe you're doing those things on your own, but think of the impact it could have if the whole building did that. That is why I am putting in my name as a candidate for board. So that 'condo' can become 'Can Do.' So that these condo fees can help the trees. So that H.O.A. can become hip hip hooray. I'm Alex Blumberg, and I approve this message."

Alex: [laughs] What do you think? The music really helps.

Anna: [laughs] I would vote for you.

Alex: Okay. Well, I stumbled through that campaign speech, and so I think you owe me a song.

Anna: So I'm gonna give you 20 seconds of an unreleased song that was—this past year's song resolution was to write like more folk-inspired music.

Alex: Okay.

Anna: And I don't think this is very folk inspired but it does involve an acoustic guitar.

[SINGING: "Will wearing a mask protect me from myself, from a liability? I'll have a drink all bets and the texts that I'll regret, will read the ones you sent me. And know that things were like I thought they were."]

Alex: I love it!

Anna: Thank you.

Alex: Oh! Come on at us 2022. We're ready for ya.

Alex: And next on deck with a resolution is How to Save a Planet producer Rachel Waldholz.

Anna: Hello, Rachel.

Rachel Waldholz: Hello!

Alex: Hello.

Rachel: I'm here to resolve.

Anna: Or to absolve.

Rachel: To make some resolutions that will absolve me of past climate sins?

Anna: Yes.

Alex: So Rachel, tell us what your climate new year's resolution is.

Rachel: Okay. Before we do this, I just want to lodge an objection and say that I am not a climate resolution setter because I am firmly, firmly on the side of F your personal carbon footprint. I just want to state this for the record. [laughs]

Alex: I feel like we're all Team F Your Carbon Footprint.

Rachel: I've always been very strongly of the mind that, you know, you cannot personally make it more possible to travel by rail instead of by plane. So your guilt is not helping anyone. Call Congress.

Alex: Right. Right.

Anna: But you are begrudgingly going to resolve something, partially because I asked you to, and partially because of what we said up top, which is that sharing what you're doing can take your individual action and turn it into more of a collective action.

Alex: Yes.

Rachel: Yeah. So my resolution is inspired by Anna Ladd, resident How to Save a Planet vegan.

Anna: Me!

Rachel: Yes. And my resolution is actually to cook more at home, and to go back to having most of my home cooking being mostly vegetarian, which means that my goal this year is to become a better cook of vegetarian dishes so that when I go to make something, my knee jerk reflex does not include meat right off the bat.

Anna: I personally love this resolution.

Rachel: [laughs]

Anna: I feel like I've won.

Rachel: It's aimed right at you.

Alex: [laughs] So Rachel, that has been your knee jerk, though, is meat?

Rachel: It used to be that pretty much all my home cooking was vegetarian because when I learned to cook I was living with vegetarians, and so I really learned to cook vegetarian and really never cooked with meat. And then I lived in Alaska for five years, and there's a real culture there of, like, people, you know, hunting and fishing and sharing that food with you. And so I was cooking more meat and fish, but I felt pretty good about that because it was, like, mostly local.

Rachel: And then I moved to Germany, which is the land of, like, many kinds of wurst and, like, spreadable meats. And I just realized that my meat consumption has really increased without ever making a conscious decision.

Anna: What exactly is a spreadable meat?

Rachel: You know what? You don't ask too many questions because it's meat in a jar that you spread. It's salty and delicious, and you are sure you should feel guilty about it.

Alex: [laughs]

Rachel: I have to say I was influenced by the episode that you produced, Anna, "The Beef With Beef," because it reminded me that this was actually a really simple and painless way to align my actions with my values. Like, I do really like meat, but I am totally fine eating a lot less of it.

Alex: Hmm.

Rachel: Just being reminded how much of US emissions come from agriculture, and I just felt like cow burps are a place that I can cut emissions from my life.

Alex: Right. [laughs]

Rachel: Well, and actually this resolution is a stealth request for advice, because actually what I really want is advice from Anna Ladd on how to become a better vegetarian cook.

Anna: Okay. So I think the biggest thing is to take food that you already know you like or, like, techniques for cooking that you already know you like, and apply them to vegetarian food, rather than trying to, like, become a plant-based vegetable goddess overnight.

Rachel: Right off the bat.

Anna: Right. Like, I've never been a salad person, and I never would've stuck with it If I ate a bunch of salads. And a lot of people who are, like, deep into vegetarianism are kind of down on the fake meats in a way that I don't understand.

Rachel: It's like cheating. It's a crutch. [laughs]

Anna: Right. And they're sort of like, "Oh, you eat those when you're transitioning, but then you give them up for chickpeas when you're like a mature vegetarian." But I never got there. Like, I really like the fake meat.

Rachel: Lots of good baby step advice.

Anna: Thank you.

Rachel: Instead of opening the fanciest cookbook you can find, stress yourself out on the first meal, and decide you're going back to eating sandwiches.

Alex: All right. This is a great resolution, Rachel.

Rachel: We'll check back next year and see how it went.

Alex: Exactly.

Anna: And as a reminder, if you're interested in doing something around food and climate, being vegan or vegetarian isn't the only way to do that. Our episode "The Beef With Beef" has some other ways to get involved other than changing your diet if you want to check that out.

Alex: Okay. Up next, we've got some new voices in the How to Save a Planet cinematic universe. Can everyone introduce yourselves?

Peter Leonard: I'm Peter. I am audio engineer, sound designer, composer here at Gimlet. And I do that for How to Save a Planet, incidentally.

Alex: You are the Peter Leonard that we mention at the end of every episode.

Peter: That's me.

Sydney Mimeles: And I'm Sydney. I work at Spotify, and I do growth operations. And Peter is my partner.

Peter: We met at an all-staff at Gimlet.

Alex: Oh my God!

Sydney: We were talking during an all-staff. Sorry, Alex.

Alex: You're a bona fide Gimlet romance.

Sydney: Exactly.

Peter: Yeah.

Anna: Do you want to tell us about your joint climate resolution?

Peter: So two years after that fateful all-staff, Sydney and I are still together. And in February, we're gonna move in together. And we're moving into a co-op together, and we kind of want to know what do we advocate for in terms of greening the building to the condo board?

Sydney: To the co-op board. Yeah.

Peter: There we go.

Alex: Well, wait. Why stop at advocating? Why not just run?

Sydney: That's a great point. I actually—I forgot to tell you this, Peter. I am planning on running for the co-op board.

Peter: Oh my God! Incredible!

Anna: And with someone else here in this Zoom call who is also running for a condo board.

Alex: Are we gonna merge—are we merging resolutions right now? Is that what's happening? So wait. So you and I could potentially be office holders. [laughs]

Sydney: Absolutely.

Alex: Together. And we can actually sort of share expertise and share ideas.

Sydney: One co-op condo at a time.

Peter: Now Sydney, you did—did you not try to get on the board already?

Sydney: Yes, I did.

Alex: Uh oh. Wrinkle. What happened?

Sydney: Well, I had a very strong opinion about the dogs being allowed.

Peter: Ooh, that's a hot button issue.

Sydney: And I think sharing that strong opinion actually got me not enough votes, unfortunately.

Alex: Uh oh. So you've got some baggage with the electorate?

Sydney: I have baggage.

Alex: Do you have ideas about, like, how you would want the co-op to go green?

Sydney: Yeah. I mean, I think one of the initial ideas we had was compost. Like, there's not really a compost option in the building. But, like, beyond that, what can you do that isn't super expensive? For co-ops, you know, all the money is pooled in.

Alex: Right.

Sydney: And so, like, redoing a roof with solar panels could be quite expensive.

Alex: Well, maybe. But it might not be as expensive as you think it will be. I was recently talking to a guy who has this company that actually builds solar arrays on multi-unit buildings in New York City like yours. And the way he does it is he'll go and say to the building, "We'll install these solar panels for free, and also by the way, we'll also fix your roof for free as part of the install." And then in exchange, this guy's company gets to sort of sell the electricity they generate with the solar panels, and so that's how they make their money.

Peter: That sounds really good to me.

Sydney: Yeah, I mean, like, seriously. Maybe I will run on this platform.

Alex: [laughs] This is amazing. I'm so excited to see that we are sharing a resolution. Be the change you want to see.

Sydney: Totally.

Anna: Be the condo board member that you want to see in the condo.

Alex: Okay. Well, we'll be checking in in the new year.

Sydney: All right. Bye, Alex.

Alex: Bye. Okay. After the break, one of us from How to Save a Planet is going on a 400-mile bike ride—and it's definitely not me. And we'll also hear an update on someone long-time listeners may remember.

[YOUTUBE CLIP: I bought this entire island. I have 10 challenges and we have 10 people, and the last one of you to leave this island keeps it!]

Alex: That's coming up.


Alex: Welcome back. I'm here with Anna Ladd.

Anna: That is me.

Alex: And we're talking with more people from the How to Save a Planet team about their climate new year's resolutions.

Anna: Hannah, you haven't been on the show before. Tell us who you are.

Hannah Chinn: Hi, I'm Hannah. I produce How to Save a Planet, so you might've heard my name on our newest episodes.

Alex: And Hannah?

Hannah: Mm-hmm?

Alex: What is your new year's climate resolution?

Hannah: The first part of mine is that I'm not gonna buy any new clothes. So thrifting is okay, but basically I'm interested in doing this because both the beginning and the end of life for a piece of clothing, both of them have huge climate impacts. And I learned recently that a majority of the material used for clothing is made with plastic. So a lot of clothing, it can't even be recycled, it just ends up as trash.

Anna: That's not good. [laughs]

Hannah: And so I'm trying to refocus that little part of my brain that sees something online and goes on alert and needs that instant gratification, like, shopping click. Like, I'm trying to disrupt my own personal stream of consumerism.

Alex: You're not gonna buy any new clothes in 2022 at all?

Hannah: No.

Alex: As someone who has maybe gone a year without buying new clothes, is that a hard thing to do? [laughs]

Anna: Yes!

Hannah: I think it is. I like clothes a lot. I grew up thrifting, actually, because of financial reasons, I don't know. It was cheaper. And as I got older and, like, had more disposable income, I realized that if I wanted something, it was super easy to find on the internet. And I also grew up in the age of Delia's.

Anna: Yes!

Hannah: It was, like, really cool and really exciting.

Anna: Did you have the purple pants from Delia's?

Hannah: I did not, but I deeply coveted them. But yeah, online shopping, I think really revolutionized how people shopped and how people dressed, because it makes so many things more accessible, especially now that Instagram implemented their little shopping thing, and there's these little pop-up ads everywhere. Like, everywhere I go on the internet, I get ads for clothes.

Alex: It's like they figured out a way to track you and know what you like.

Hannah: I know, right? And so I actually successfully didn't buy any new clothes for, I think, two years. And then the pandemic hit. And I think that being in my apartment for so long definitely made me be like, I need something to pass the time. It's exciting when packages come in the mail for me, and I definitely bought more things during the pandemic.

Alex: Yes.

Anna: The pandemic did the exact same thing to me. It's like, if I'm gonna be miserable in my house, I want to have the dopamine hit of waiting for a little package.

Hannah: Exactly! Uh-huh.

Alex: [laughs]

Hannah: Anyway, the second part of my resolution is that I'm going to learn how to sew and repair my own existing clothing. Again, basically, I'm trying to make it harder for myself to acquire anything new.

Alex: Yeah.

Hannah: And that's the other reason that I wanted to do this is because I realized that I have no concept of how much work goes into producing my clothing.

Alex: It is—I took a sewing class because I had this thing where I was like, I need a hobby. I'm all in my head. I need to do something with my hands, and I have no artistic ability and no musical abilities. It's really hard for me.

Anna: That's never stopped me, Alex.

Alex: The only thing I'm good at is, like, rearranging words in my head. So I was like, I'm gonna sew, because that way I'll get to make my own clothes. It'll be sort of cool. And so I took a sewing class and it is a miracle. Every item of clothing is a miracle. Like, once you, like, actually learn how they're constructed, it's like—and you have to think about it in this whole—like, you need all this spatial reasoning. I was like, pockets? I never got—I never got past pockets. Like, they're impossible. It's impossible. [laughs]

Hannah: I, like, know how to take things in, and I know how to hem, like, jeans and alter stuff to fit me, but that's—that's pretty much it. And I've never put, like, an entire article of clothing together from scratch. And it's so easy for me to buy a $5 t-shirt and have that feel completely separate from the labor that is put into it on the other end.

Alex: Yup.

Hannah: And so I guess what I'm trying to do is have a better sense of the amount of work that goes into making a usable article of clothing, and have that also influence my decisions when I am deciding what to buy.

Alex: Well, thank you, Hannah. This was great.

Anna: Yeah. Thank you.

Alex: And good luck with that resolution. I look forward to checking back in.

Hannah: And thanks. You may see me in some of my weird projects on Zoom sometime soon.

Alex: Awesome! And last up, we've got the one, the only, Kendra Pierre-Louis!

[air horn sound]

Alex: What is your new year's climate resolution?

Kendra Pierre-Louis: So my new year's climate resolution is to bike the Empire State Trail.

Alex: Mm-hmm.

Kendra: The trail is 750 miles, and it's in two segments: one that runs east-west from Albany to Buffalo—that one's about 350 miles. And another one that runs north-south from New York City to the Canadian border.

Alex: Whoa!

Kendra: And that segment is about 400 miles, and that's the segment that I plan to do this summer.

Alex: Whoa!

Kendra: And the hope and the plan is that I will be able to get friends to join me along the way, including my friend Jamal, who doesn't know how to ride a bike. So my goal is to get him to learn how to ride a bike.

Alex: [laughs]

Anna: While doing this with you?

Kendra: No, no. He'll learn before. The trail just opened in 2017, and the cool part is depending on what's happening with the pandemic, I might try to make it all the way to Montreal because I have friends there.

Alex: That is gonna be some serious mountains.

Kendra: Yeah. I'm a little nervous. I don't think I'm going to camp. I think I'm gonna stay at hotels, but I might camp a little bit.

Anna: Slacker! [laughs]

Alex: I love it! One bit of pushback.

Kendra: Mm-hmm?

Alex: This feels like more of a resolution than, like, a climate resolution. I mean, I understand biking is green.

Kendra: Biking is green. And also, a lot of people don't know that this trail exists. And so I'm A) promoting the trail. I'm B) promoting bicycling by kind of bringing people along to do it with me in segments. You know, I'm not asking anyone to bike all 400 miles with me.

Alex: Right.

Kendra: And hopefully if more people like me do this, then they'll put even more bike infrastructure in place because the United States doesn't have great bike infrastructure relative to other countries. And we know that, generally speaking, the way you get more people into cycling is to make it safer, to put in more protected bike lanes, to make it less likely that you're gonna get hit by a car.

Alex: Right.

Kendra: Because, like, I've been hit by a car twice. It's not great.

Alex: No. I've never been hit by a car, but I believe you that it's not great.

Kendra: It's really not awesome. [laughs] And the other thing that I think is really important, and that I often think gets lost is that making a city better for biking often means making a city also better for people who walk, like pedestrians.

Alex: Mm-hmm.

Kendra: And so overall it improves not just city, but city, suburbs, places where people live. It can improve the quality of life of everyone who lives there.

Alex: Yeah.

Kendra: So there's just like a lot of co-benefits to society, and it just feels like one of the best ways that I can—it's not enough to recognize that, like, these things exist. The other side of it, I think, is participating when those opportunities avail themselves to you.

Anna: And thus biking 400 miles to Canada.

Kendra: I just really want poutine. [laughs]

Anna: I do think there are easier ways to get poutine than biking 400 miles.

Alex: Kendra, you've convinced me. This is a climate resolution.

Kendra: Mm-hmm.

Anna: Do you have any starter bike tips for people who are perhaps inspired and want to start bike commuting?

Kendra: Sure. So I think a beginner thing is take whatever bike you have and bring it into a bike shop and get a tuneup. It's good to have brakes that work. It's good to have tires that, like, are round. You know, basic things. And then the other thing is I really resisted this for a very long time, but embrace the padded shorts. If you are not someone who wants to be wearing, like, the spandex, you know, pants, I get you. They make padded underwear. So, like, you don't have to wear like the bicycling shorts, but it really does make a really big difference. And then the other thing, if you start upping your game, is I got measured for the first time for my bike, which is they adjust, the handlebars and everything. And that's another huge kind of game changer. It just makes it so much more comfortable.

Alex: All right. Well, thank you.

Kendra: Thank you for having me.

Alex: All right! So those are our climate action resolutions. And remember, these are just our resolutions. You don't have to do what we are doing or anything close. Do what works for you! And a good way to figure that out is by doing something we've talked about on the show several times. This is the brainchild of our friend and former colleague Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson. Draw your own climate action Venn diagram. Three circles overlapping. Circle one? What are you good at? Circle two? What is the work that needs doing? Circle three? What brings you joy? Where those three circles overlap, that is your sweet spot. That is where you should take your climate action. Post your Venn diagram to social media at Twitter or Instagram, tag us @How2SaveAPlanet with the number '2,' or send us a voice memo of your resolution at

Alex: Before we say goodbye, we have a quick update for you. One of the very first episodes of this show was about a YouTuber named Mr. Beast. And if you don't remember him, he does these crazy challenges and stunt videos where he'll do things like bury himself alive for 50 hours, or eat the world's largest slice of pizza. But he's mostly known for giving away wads and wads of cash.

[YOUTUBE CLIP: This is a never-ending giant mountain of cash. And as much cash as you can carry you can keep.]

Alex: Now Mr. Beast, his wads of cash and his audience of millions of preteens might not exactly seem like your typical environmental activists. But back in 2019, Mr. Beast launched a fundraising campaign called "Team Trees." The goal was to raise $20-million to plant 20 million trees. And they raised that $20-million in just 55 days.

[YOUTUBE CLIP: You guys spammed me to plant 20 million trees on Twitter, Reddit, all over my comment section. So I made it happen.]

Alex: We've got a whole episode about this campaign, it's called "20 Million Trees". If you haven't heard that episode, go check it out. We talk all about how far planting trees can take us as a climate action. We're big fans of trees around here.

Alex: But the reason we're talking about Mr. Beast again today is because a few weeks ago, my nine-year-old daughter asked me if I'd heard about something called Team Seas. One of the YouTubers she watches made a video about it. And Team Seas rang a bell. Team Seas, Team Seas, Team Trees, YouTube. Turns out, Mr. Beast is back. This time, with an even bigger environmental campaign focused on the ocean.

[YOUTUBE CLIP: This is one of the dirtiest beaches in the entire world, and we're gonna pick up every single piece of trash on this beach starting with this water bottle. One out of millions of pieces of trash.]

Alex: So Team Seas, this new campaign, is trying to raise $30-million to remove 30 million pounds of trash from oceans, rivers and beaches all over the world. And they're trying to raise that money by January 1, 2022. You heard that right, an extra $10-million this time around. And as of the time of this recording, in just a couple weeks. Which is possible, considering Mr. Beast has more than doubled his subscriber count to over 80 million followers since the Team Trees episode. In the words of the Team Trees and Team Seas campaign director, Matt Fitzgerald ...

[Matt Fitzgerald: One way of putting it is that every two videos he puts out is the audience of the Super Bowl.]

Alex: That is one way of putting it. Half the money that Team Seas raises is going to the Ocean Conservancy, who is gonna host Team Seas' beach cleanups, as well as clean up what are called "ghost gear graveyards" deep in the ocean—removing these big fishing nets that can be dangerous for marine life.

Alex: And then the other half is gonna go to a group called The Ocean Cleanup, which is going to deploy giant trash-eating robots in rivers to catch the pollution before it ever gets to the ocean. Or, as Mr. Beast would say, "Giant trash-eating robots that catch pollution before it even gets to the ocean!" That's invigorating! [laughs] The robots are called Interceptors—Interceptors!—which use a barrier to funnel trash toward a conveyor belt.

[YOUTUBE CLIP: After which it's dropped in one of these six floating dumpsters. And the fact that they float is really clever, because it means once they're full, the interceptor can stay put, while the dumpsters are flotilla-ed down the river, where whatever can be recycled is recycled, and the rest is properly disposed of using the local waste management system.]

Alex: That's Mark Rober, another YouTuber who's a part of Team Seas. This group, The Ocean Cleanup, has been criticized by scientists for some of the techniques they've used to clean plastic from the open ocean. The river robots, however, are a different project. And the UN development program and local governments are on board with where the robots are being placed for the Team Seas project. And yeah, I mean, there are trillions of pieces of trash in the ocean, so Team Seas isn't gonna solve this problem with cleanups and river robots alone. But the idea is similar to Team Trees: introducing millions of young people to action on environmental issues.

Alex: So right now, Team Seas has raised a little over $18-million—a little over half their goal—with just a few weeks left to go. So if you want to check it out and maybe get involved, you can go to

Alex: And if you want to learn more about what plastic and the ocean have to do with climate change, check out our episodes, "Recycling! Is it BS?" or "An Origin Story of the Blue New Deal."

Alex: And finally, our call to action this week? Set your own climate new year's resolution. And remember, this is a show about collective action, so whatever you do, don't do it quietly! Share it with your family, your friends, your congresspeople. And us! Send us a voice memo about it to We want to hear all about your resolutions. You can follow How to Save a Planet on social media @how2saveaplanet—with the number 2, and subscribe to our newsletter at

Alex: How to Save a Planet is a Spotify original podcast and Gimlet production. It's hosted by me, Alex Blumberg. Our reporters and producers are Kendra Pierre-Louis, Rachel Waldholz, Anna Ladd and Hannah Chinn. Our supervising producer is Lauren Silverman with help from Katelyn Bogucki. Our editor is Caitlin Kenney. Our intern is Nicole Welch. Sound design and mixing by Peter Leonard and Lonnie Ro, with original music by Peter Leonard and Emma Munger. Thanks for listening, we'll see you next week!

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