Reality television’s continued popularity and a critical mass of successful small businesses focused on sustainability could turn the genre into a fundamental sustainability education tool if one woman has her way.
In February, Rose Thornton, founder of Seattle-based ReGeneration Productions, premiered the pilot episode of “Mission:Sustainable” a makeover reality show that aims to educate viewers who have not already joined the sustainable-living chorus.
Mission:Sustainable, was made on a shoestring budget with donations of time and money from local businesses and organizations. In the 45 minute pilot episode, a cast of sustainability experts help transform and average Seattle family’s lifestyle. Their home’s energy efficiency is tested. The contents of their kitchen are combed through and replaced with more sustainable alternatives. They receive a lecture on high-fructose corn syrup and then a free month’s Community Supported Agriculture membership. All of the time, services and products were donated by a community of independent business owners who believe in the show’s mission, according to Thornton.
Thornton, 23, says she spent less than $1,000 of her own money making the pilot. She attributes the willingness of other business owners to gamble on her project to the down economic climate. “More and more companies are, understanding that it needs to be a community of businesses, she says. If we are going to survive, we need to be helping each other and working together, not just having this colossal fight.”
Others have said making this show credibly could only have happened now, because of the critical mass of companies focused on sustainability that have launched or achieved mainstream acceptance in recent years.
“It probably would have been non-existent three to five years ago,” says Ladd Smith, co-owner of In Harmony Sustainable Landscapes, a 16 year old Bothwell, Washington based company. “The people driving these companies say, ‘The overall movement is so important, we are setting aside some competition.’ People are willing to give a little bit or ourselves to make this happen,” he said.