Read books to children — build their vocabulary around STEM and the environment, climate, conservation and clean energy science and technology, and talk it up! Be careful to choose credible and trustworthy sources of information. Keep it solution oriented and informative. Examples would be “Energy Island”, “The Lorax”, “The Why-entist and the Wild Weather”.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Jane Lowry. Since the first time Jane Lowry saw a headlamp shine by pedaling her bike, she has been in love with renewable energy and what it can do. As a former teacher, Jane knows the importance of motivating children to learn more STEM/STEAM material. She believes that it’s never too early to gently introduce young minds to real world vocabulary and ideas in a friendly story. Her love of teaching and energy has taken her as far away as Japan. She’s active in the United Way’s “Read With Me” program. Today, Jane works with engineers and scientists who research renewable energy technology from solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, to biomass. Born in Canada, she now resides in Colorado with her Navy veteran husband, two growing up fast teens, Jasmine the rescue dog, and Pickles and August, her cats. Her love of writing, discovering what clean energy can do, coupled with cooking, travel and what’s new in the delicious world of chocolate keep her busy. The Why-entist and the Wild Weather is her debut children’s book in the Ask-A-Lot Kids series. Next in the series is The HOW-entist and the Hot Hill.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
Growing up in a suburb of Toronto Canada, I lived with my parents, my sister (14 years older than I) and various cats. My dad had a grade 10 education and owned a car repair business; my mom left her nursing career to stay at home with me. They’d grown up during the 1930s, the Great Depression, so “waste not want not” was a familiar phrase in our house. I walked or rode my bike to public school about a mile away until grade 6 when we moved to a rural area and I had to take the bus to a new school. A few years later my dad died and my mom went back to work. My parents insisted I get a “good education” no matter what. After getting a teaching degree in french/math, I immediately headed to Tokyo Japan to teach English as a Second Language. Once there, I spent two years teaching and traveling and exploring how other cultures lived.
Was there an “aha moment” or a specific trigger that made you decide you wanted to become a scientist or environmental leader? Can you share that story with us?
I recall walking around the block one day with my babysitter, and she picked up some trash on the side of the road and said “Imagine if everyone picked up one piece of litter.”
Is there a lesson you can take out of your own story that can exemplify what can inspire a young person to become an environmental leader?
Connecting with ideas, other people, and using your imagination to envision what could be. Then figure out how to make it happen. Join a group that has a bigger cause and find your niche within it. Two examples of great leaders involved with large movements: Greta Thunberg and Bill McKibben.
Can you tell our readers about the initiatives that you or your company are taking to address climate change or sustainability? Can you give an example for each?
I have created “The Why-entist and the Wild Weather”, a rhyming picture book that gently introduces budding scientists and engineers to solar/wind energy and the importance of trees. The story is about a young and curious girl who discovers the science behind greenhouse gases and how they negatively affect our climate. Like Greta Thunberg, she rallies stakeholders to make changes that bring back good weather to their town. The story weaves in real world vocabulary around renewable energy science and technology. It gives a foundation that will help the next generation to bring climate science and solutions into everyday conversation, instead of treating it as a special topic.
Can you share 3 lifestyle tweaks things that the general public can do to be more sustainable or help address the climate change challenge?
- Take re-usable bags for shopping EVERYWHERE — the store, the mall, farmer’s markets etc. if you forget to bring your re-usable bag, choose “no bag” or a paper one as it’s biodegradable and recyclable. Get those cheap plastic bags out of your life (Take-out containers are often sturdy enough to “rinse and re-use” too!)
- Buy products made of recycled materials when possible.
- Replace traditional lighting with LED bulbs, or call your state energy program to do a home audit (like MassSave) for FREE and let the kids watch the process to learn that conservation is the most efficient way to sustainability.
Ok, thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview: The youth led climate strikes of September 2019 showed an impressive degree of activism and initiative by young people on behalf of climate change. This was great, and there is still plenty that needs to be done. In your opinion what are 5 things parents should do to inspire the next generation to become engaged in sustainability and the environmental movement? Please give a story or an example for each.
- Read books to their children — build their vocabulary around STEM and the environment, climate, conservation and clean energy science and technology, and talk it up! Be careful to choose credible and trustworthy sources of information. Keep it solution oriented and informative. Examples would be “Energy Island”, “The Lorax”, “The Why-entist and the Wild Weather”.
- Make sustainable (or regenerative) habits the norm. For example: 1. Recycle 2. Re-use every disposable bag or take-out carton until it is unusable. 3. Turn thermostat to 68 or lower in winter, and 72 or higher in summer. 4. Close the shades and windows when the air conditioning is on. 5. Waste not want not.
- Watch age appropriate shows together and talk about it. For example, “The Magic School Bus” PBS series — especiallyDecomposition , Energy , Rainforest ecology , Recycling. Then brainstorm ways to “re-use, reduce, recycle, renew, repair, repurpose. But don’t stress the kids out — keep it positive.
- Travel and see how other cultures handle waste/energy/consumption.
- Join events with others who have a passion for the cause, for example Greta Thunberg and Bill McKibben
- Visit the Nature & Science museum at least a couple of times a year to see regular and special exhibits.
How would you articulate how a business can become more profitable by being more sustainable and more environmentally conscious? Can you share a story or example?
- Charge $0.01 — $0.10 for every plastic bag they hand out.
- Stop cooling the entire section near dairy/meat/vegetables. I know a little grocery store in Canada, and some here in the US that save money by using clear pvc curtains to isolate the cold and reduce their energy bill. For example: https://www.steelguardsafety.com/strip-doors/
- Do an energy audit. For example get MassSave to help.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My mom. She always encouraged me to write. Now I’m an author.
You are a person of great influence and doing some great things for the world! If you could inspire a movement that would bring the greatest amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would love to see companies compete to win status recognition/awards (like LEED certification) for the lowest carbon footprint per sq ft.
Do you have a favorite life lesson quote? Can you tell us how that was relevant to you in your own life?
“Just keep swimming.” — Dory
My first book cost twice as much and took five times as long to illustrate as I expected. Circumstances were beyond my control and a dozen times I was ready to quit. But, I “kept swimming” even though I was often treading water.
What is the best way for people to follow you on social media?
This was so inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!