We may have celebrated Earth Day on Monday, but it’s never too late to adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle. I was recently joined by the Wildlife Habitat Council’s Margaret O’Gorman and General Motors James Bell to discuss just that! Margaret dished on why wildlife habitats are so important to the environment and what company’s need to do to create a certified wildlife habitat. GM’s James Bell discussed how General Motors is giving back to the environment and helping wildlife across the country, and much more!
Candace Rose: Why are wildlife habitats so important to the environment?
Margaret O’Gorman: “Wildlife habitats are important to the environment because they provide homes for our wildlife- our birds, our bees, our bats and our mammals that use them. Across the planet wildlife habitats are being destroyed and disappearing. And when they disappear, the species that live there also disappear. They can become rare, they can become extinct. What we do at Wildlife Habitat Council, for 25 years we’ve worked with some of the leading corporations in the U.S. to create, restore and implement wildlife habitat projects on their lands.”
Candace Rose: What does a company need to do to create a certified wildlife habitat?
Margaret O’Gorman: “A company that works with Wildlife Habitat Council will sit down with us and our biologists and determine what the best biodiversity objective for them is. What can they do given the restrictions of their site, given the location of their facility, given the staff that’s there. What should they be trying to impact in terms of change for wildlife habitat. And then we work across the sites for corporate member. We go from facility to facility and work with the employees there because we want the employees to be engaged in the implementation of the habitat project. We ask the employees to do the project whether it’s removing invasive species or restoring wetlands or planting trees, and then we ask them to monitor what happens with the project. And when that happens we can certify the wildlife habitat project as a wildlife at work project, and if they have a learning component as a learning project. So by working with with us, a corporation can really identify the best use of its lands for wildlife.”
Candace Rose: GM recently won an award for its landfill program. Can you tell us the Quest for Zero landfill?
James Bell: “Absolutely. You think about your own household, how many bags of garbage and recycling you put out to the street corner every week. Well, imagine if you’re running a car company and having facilities all around the world. That’s part of the car building process creates some degree of waste. Well, what we’re aiming for and have done so in about half of our facilities now is to have no garbage going out. So a great example of that is this box here in front of me (please see video above) this is the casing that holds the battery in a Chevrolet Volt. It’s a very high tech machine obviously, and the plastics that are used in this are also very high tech. Because of that, they cannot be recycled in a classic manner so they have to find a way to reuse them, so it doesn’t go into a landfill.
So in this particular case we’ve transformed this into a bat box. This can be hung on the side of a tree. The bats are very happy, safe and obviously it’s very durable. You can count on that to be their home for many years to come. And we have one here for wood ducks, so there’s ways to use the materials that come out of the car building process in ways that keep them from going into a landfill, but more importantly as we mentioned earlier being used in proactive ways.”
Candace Rose: How can people get involved in local wildlife habitat programs?
Margaret O’Gorman: “People can get involved with local wildlife habitat programs by working with Wildlife Habitat Council. Our website: WildlifeHC.org has a complete list of all of the projects that we do with our members, so somebody can just go on our website and locate where they are and see if there’s a project nearby that they can get involved with. And if there’s no such project, maybe they can get their employer to be involved with Wildlife Habitat Council and implement projects on their lands. And if they want to do it in their own back garden, the basic thing that people should do is plant native species. By planting native species you’re encouraging wildlife to come and use your garden.”