I was pleased with the way my presentation turned out in class, however I learned within a few minutes of my presentation that fifteen minutes was not enough time to fully explain my whole project and therefore, I was not able to fully present my project and its best. That being said, I believe I was able to convey some of the main ideas in my project. The main points I wanted to highlight in my presentation were how each of the characters in “The Lorax” were symbols for environmental issues in the world today. However, I learned that in order for this presentation to be useful to a general audience, I would need to rework it and make some revisions.
Prior to beginning my project after I had many different formats of presentation that I was considering. Ultimately, I chose Prezi to present my information in the most aesthetically pleasing and concise way possible. I initially had trouble working through the book and trying to decide what motifs in “The Lorax” were important to highlight. After sifting through Dr.Seuss’ imaginative language and coming up with a list of important characters and metaphors, I needed to discover what they all meant. This proved to be the most enlightening and exciting aspect of my process.
I started with THE LORAX, who represents all of the companies and protesters against logging and dumping products in an animal environment. The Hershey Company aims to source 100% of their palm oil needs from sustainable sources by the end of the year and ensures that they will not purchase palm oil through deforestation. In response to mass deforestation in Indonesia, Disney is no longer associated with paper suppliers who have been linked to deforestation. Disney has stopped using paper prodcuts that do not meet the FSC-Controlled Wood Standards.
Next, was THE ONCE-LER, who represents all of the companies whose factories destroy environmental resources and surrounding areas. While most are fully aware of the damage caused, they proceed to deny it is their doing. A company called Sinar Mas, reminded me of the Once-ler. The Palm oil subsidiary of Sinar Mas has been accused of causing deforestation in Indonesian rainforests. This corporation has also been targeted as one of the eight companies responsible for sending hazardous levels of smog into Singapore and Malaysia. Companies such as Unilever, Nestle, and Burger King have all dropped Sinar Mas as their paper and palm oil supplier, due to the large amount of damage the company has had on the environment.
THE YOUNG BOY represents a chance for change in the environment for harm and waste. The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) attempts to reach the average American audience by offering programs around the country that educate people about nature, climate, weather, and health in order for the participants to create personal ties and to understand how the environment impacts their lives.
SWOMEE SWANS represent the consequences of all unchecked air pollution. Air pollution particles increase the risk of contracting cardiovascular and respiratory disease. Globally, more than 3 million people die prematurely due to air pollution. By 2050, it is predicted that 6.6 million premature deaths around the world will be caused by extended exposure to air pollution.
BARBALOOTS represent the land animals that cannot continue to live in their environment due to waster and pollution. About 80% of wildlife live in the rainforest, many of which are the most vulnerable to deforestation. When there species lose a place to live, the become easier to hunt and therefore their populations begins to decrease and some go extinct. Some species that are currently threatened due to deforestation are the Amur Leopard (Around 60 in existence), the Black Rhino (Around 5,000 in existence), and the Cross River Gorilla (200-3000 in existence).
HUMMING FISH represent all consequences of unmitigated water pollution. Around 2 years ago, the state of Michigan decided to switch the Flint water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River in order to save money, although the river is know for its polluted water. The water was eroding the iron water main pipes, turning the water brown and lead began to enter the water supply. A young pediatric doctor in the area noticed lead levels doubling and tripling in her patients’ blood levels, which is irreversible.
TRUFFULA TREES represent the materials that companies use for themselves that is from the environment. Some over-exploited resources include fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal), precious metals, trees, and water. Problems that arise with exploitation of naturals resources include deforestation, forced migrations of species, soil erosion, ozone depletion, water pollution, and the threat of natural disaster.
GRICKLE GRASS represents all of the plants that cannot continue to grow and flourish. Habitat loss, deforestation, and acid rain have caused many species of plant life to become threatened. This does not only reduce the amount of diversity in plant life, but also reduces the amount of nutrients and habitats for different wildlife. Some threatened species include tongue fern, dwarf lake iris, prairie fringed orchid, and Houghton’s goldenrod.
SMOGULA SMOKE represents the air pollution made by companies. American Electric Power (AEP) emits 130 metric tons carbon dioxide a year. This accounts for about 2% of the American annual total.
GLUPPITY GLUP represents all waste caused by manufacturing and industrial companies On April 20, 2010, an explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig caused a sea-floor oil gusher to flow for 87 days into the Gulf of Mexico. It is considered the largest accidental marine oil spill in history. Due to the spill, extensive damage was caused to marine and wildlife habitats. In 2013, it was reported that animals continued to die at exponential rates due to the explosion.
THNEEDS represent fad products companies manufacture that are quickly no longer in demand. The clothing industry is the second largest polluter in the world, next to oil. The production includes raw material, textile manufacturing, clothing construction, shipping, retail, and disposal of the garment. Determining the footprint of this industry is nearly impossible due to the immense variety in production processes. However, a general assessment must take into account not only obvious pollutants – the pesticides used in cotton farming, dyes used in manufacturing and the amount of natural resources used in extraction, farming, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, and shipping.
After my analysis, I covered a brief history of “The Lorax.” “The Lorax” was published in 1971, a year after the first Earth Day was held. Dr. Seuss chose to set the story in a post-apocalyptic landscape in order to show the consequences of excessive industrialization. “The Lorax” was Dr. Seuss’s way of critiquing capitalism. He implied that the Once-ler relied on an aggressive advertising campaign in order to promote thneeds, a product that has no real purpose, in order to explain how advertising creates a false need for products with temporary appeal. Pro-business groups have attacked “The Lorax” as environmental propaganda and the book has been banned in some schools and libraries. A book very similar to “The Lorax” called “The Truax” was sponsored by the logging industry from the pro-consumerism point of view in response to Dr. Seuss’s book. In 1988, a school district in California has “The Lorax” on the second grade reading list. Terri Birkett, a member of a family owned hardwood flooring company, wrote “The Truax” and it was published by the National Oak Flooring Manufacturers’ Association (NOFMA).
I also thought it was important to do a section in my presentation about what we can learn from “The Lorax” at any age.
- Treasure what is left of the environment
- The Once-ler reminisces about “the days when the grass was still green and the pond was still wet and the clouds were still clean.” He regrets the impact of his actions on the once untouched natural environment that surrounded him.
- Exploitation of nature is difficult to stop
- Upon encountering a Truffula Tree, the Once-ler chops one down to create a Thneed. When the Lorax tries to stop him, he says “There’s no cause for alarm, I chopped just one tree.” As demand for the Theed increases, more and more trees are cut down until they are all gone.
- If we don’t speak up for the environment, who will?
- Perhaps the Lorax’s most iconic line is “I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.” Animals and trees cannot stand up for themselves and rely on us in order to keep them safe.
- Corporations with good intentions can make bad decisions
- People trust corporations and government to make sound choices. The Once-ler did not set out to exploit the environment, but when money was on the line, the environment was no longer a concern.
- Every action has a reaction
- The Once-ler begins to chop down trees to make Thneeds as fast as possible, without worrying about the effects it has on the environment. First, the Bar-ba-loots who eat the Truffula fruits cannot eat. Then the fumes from the factory pollute the water and the air, which forces the Swomee-Swans and Humming-Fish to leave. Many oil companies begin to drill without taking into consideration the effects it has on human health and the environment.
- Development must be sustainable
- Exploitation of the environment can turn over a quick profit for companies, but once the resources are gone, these companies can no longer make money in the same location and must move to harvest (and therefore deplete the resources from another location).
- Consumerism is unsustainable
- The Once-ler is able to justify his need to destroy the environment because he claims that Thneeds are something that “Everyone needs!” However, our “needs” are dictated to us via advertising. If we do not reduce consumption and recycle, we will not be able to sustain a healthy living environment.
- “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. “
The final aspect of my presentation were four pictures where I took characters from the Lorax and put them in current environmental situations.
Swomee Swans having to leave due to excessive smog and air pollution caused by Indonesian clothing factories.
The Young Boy finding a deserted forest in the Sumatran rainforest where there used to be ample amounts of wildlife and plant life.
Humming fish having to leave the water they live in due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill polluting their waters.
The Lorax appearing from the stump of a tree that has been cut down in the Sumatran rainforest for palm oil.
I really enjoyed learning about companies who are trying to make a difference and reduce deforestation, such as Disney and Hershey. I found researching environmental issues, such as deforestation in the Sumatran rainforests due to unsustainable farming of palm oil, the Indonesian clothing industry, over-exploited resources, and specific events, like the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, very eye-opening. What I ultimately enjoyed most about my project was that it allowed me to learn about topics of a wide array. I was able to research so many different environmental issues that I was previously unaware of. I also really enjoyed taking some of the characters from the book and putting them in current environmental situations. I am not a Photoshop expert whatsoever (I used it for the first time in this project!), so it was fun to learn how to utilize some of those tools to put the end of my presentation together. I hope that I am able to finesse my skills in order to make the end product of the pictures even better.
Some of my notes from when I was initially outlining my Prezi presentation
The main reason I chose to do a project based on “The Lorax” was because I genuinely believe in the message the book conveys. In Green World, I have learned that there are so many different ways to make the general public aware of environmental issues in the world and as artists, it is our job to inspire change. As odd as it may seem, Dr. Seuss is an artist. He has used his art (in this case a childrens’ book) to convey a message and evoke change. I wanted to further elaborate on the groundwork he had already laid out with “The Lorax.” I believe that fully analyzing the book and applying his fictional dystopian world to the real world is necessary in order to fully appreciate the message of “The Lorax.”
Perhaps the most difficult part of this project for me was to find 10 strangers to impact through this project. One day I decided that the specific people I wanted to impact with my first version of my project were adults who were fans of “The Lorax.” This lead me to a specialty children’s bookstore called “Books of Wonder.” I had the opportunity to speak with the manager of the store about my findings in “The Lorax” and why I find that it such an essential book to have on the shelves at children’s bookstores. She and I discussed “The Truax” and she introduced me to various staff members who were very kind and willing to discuss my findings with them further. I brought up my presentation and discussed what I had found with the staff of the book store. One of the women told me that she wished I had come in earlier, because she had just read “The Lorax” to a group of children on Earth Day and would have loved to have shared some of the facts I had shared with her and her co-workers. I unfortunately was not permitted to take pictures in the bookstore with the staff members, but I am very happy that I was able to have an in-depth discussion with people who love children’s books and who have felt that the impact of these books on their lives have been great enough for them to want to currently work in a specialty bookstore of this kind.
I hope that this presentation can be used as groundwork for a potential teaching tool. I have spoken with teachers, principals, and others who work in environmental education about my project and potentially adapting it to the needs of their classrooms. I think that in order for this project to go further, many revisions to my presentation must be made, but what is great about this project is that “The Lorax” has stood the test of time and concern for the environment is still quite apparent. A project such as this will have to change with time in order to stay pertinent and engaging. I am grateful for the opportunity of presenting my project to the class, because ultimately, it was a “first draft” of what this presentation can be. I needed the experience of presenting this in front of my colleagues to understand what the next step in the process must be. I have no doubt that this project can make change, but first I need to go back to the drawing board and decide what needs to be revised, deleted, and added.