The Secret Life Series
Short, engaging videos showing environmental impacts of our consumer choices.
The Secret Life Series—accessible and informative 5 to 6-minute videos that raise awareness about the life cycle environmental impacts of everyday items. The Secret Life of Cell Phones, The Secret Life of Paper and The Secret Life of Beef have been released; 12 more videos are planned. The series is designed as a tool for education and activism with its light touch, fast pace, and nonpolitical approach. It aims to provide simple effective solutions that inspire viewers to change their behavior.
Known drawbacks of design:
Limited funding during the first three years as a revamped nonprofit has frustrated distribution. We look forward to using the success and popularity of the series to attract funding that will support more widespread distribution to a variety of audiences. Research has shown that there is a missing link between the desire of most Americans to act responsibly to protect the environment and their capacity to do so—that missing link is knowledge. So raising awareness about the life cycle impacts of everyday items and providing solutions are the keys to motivating citizens to take care of our planet. The series aims to educate people of all ages, from all walks of life and political persuasions, and rouse them to take action. INFORM’s goal is to reach those outside of the traditional environmental community, a strategy that requires more ample funding.
Status of realization:
communication, education, environment, knowledge, lifestyle
While a great deal of environmental media already exists, because of its format, politics and distribution, much of it preaches to the choir, reaching only the environmental community. In contrast, the Secret Life series is designed as a universal communication tool with broad appeal outside of traditional environmental channels. Done in documentary style with a light touch, the videos are concise, entertaining, visual, user-friendly, and have the potential to reach viewers of diverse backgrounds in a multitude of contexts. The videos combine interviews with ordinary people, scientists, researchers and green entrepreneurs, with humorous animation, music and stock footage to produce entertaining and thoroughly researched accounts of the subjects. They are designed to be easy to understand and nonpolitical in order to communicate with as wide an audience as possible, and provide solutions that empower viewers from all walks of life to take more environmentally responsible actions.
Despite our impending climate crisis, only 18% of Americans take action to combat global warming or act in environmentally responsible ways. Many people don’t understand how things are produced, what happens as a result of this process, or where things go after they are discarded. However, once people have access to the tools necessary to understand a product’s life cycle, they recognize their own role in the chain of events and can make greener choices. Average Americans spend 8 hours a day in front of a screen. Because the world is increasingly dominated by screens that need content, distribution possibilities for the Secret Life series are unlimited, and its impact is immeasurable. The videos can easily be edited to shorter lengths for various platforms and the series can be used by any group that wants to educate its members; it also has the potential to cross international borders, providing a template that could be adapted to any country in the world.
Our environment is in crisis, yet governments, both here and abroad, have not been able to cooperate on solutions because politics and corporate funded opposition and misinformation always get in the way. Moreover, most environmental literature and media that is produced is highly political and as a result, loses its efficacy when battle lines become hardened. The Secret Life series purposefully transcends politics in an effort to inspire a bottom-up movement. Our goal is to communicate with as many individuals as possible, raise consciousness, and change behavior, in order to safeguard our environment, our way of life and our planet.
Other relevant information
Each Secret Life video is also supported by its own micro-website, featuring more in depth research and information on the issues, with links to additional resources. Videos are available online and for sale in DVD format, singly and as a set. Curriculum guides are also available.
Proven and/or potential effects:
Anecdotally, viewers say the Secret Life series has changed their behavior. The series has been seen by government agencies, NGOs, advocacy groups, film festivals, businesses, schools, cable and broadcast TV, etc. It has been cited by Harvard University (www.uos.harvard.edu/fmo/recycling/newsletter/08/september.shtml), Sustainable Schools Oregon (http://sustainableschools.org/newsletters/SOSI_E-news_2008-09.pdf), Inspiration Green (http://inspirationgreen.com/paper-buying-guides.html), NYS DEC (http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/8818.html), Meat Free Monday (www.supportmfm.org/news/the-happy-meal-aint-so-happy-new-film-reveals-why-beef-is-such-bad-news-for-the-environment.cfm ), Edible Manhattan (http://www.ediblemanhattan.com/tag/the-secret-life-of-beef/), etc. and 150+ green blogs.
Is the design protected by patent or ip registration?
How has the development of the design been financed hereunto?
Is there a plan for future investments?
Is there in-house competencies to secure market roll out of the design, with regards to investment, distribution, sales, etc.?
Professional status of designer:
Director of INFORM, Inc.
United States of America
City/Country of residence:
Name of company: