By: Charles Bowen
Non-Profits Provide Searchable Database On Environmental Issues
We usually think globally about environmental issues. In part,
that’s simply because it sometimes has been rather difficult to
get local information about air and water pollution, toxic waste
dumps and local endangered species.
But the advent of the Internet has made such localizing easier
all the time. And now one new Web site now lets us localize right
down to the ZIP code level.
For My World – a site funded by the National Wildlife
Federation, Environmental Defense and other nonprofit
organizations – provides more than a half dozen different
content channels, covering matters ranging from buying “green”
products such as cars with low pollution emissions to reports and
studies on global climate changes.
Of particular interest to the working press is the fact the
material can be so intensely localized. Enter a ZIP code and the
site provides neighborhood information on pollution, recycling,
local wildlife, even gardening tips and ideas for your region.
Content partners for the site include academic databases,
publishers, and independent news services.
To use the resource, visit the site at http://www.formyworld.com,
where a panel in the upper right corner invites you to enter a
ZIP code, then select a category from Pollution, Wildlife,
Gardening, or Recycling. Then click the Go button to see a local
report on that topic for the specified region.
Subsequent pages have links for additional information. For
instance, in a pollution report for my ZIP code area, the site
gave its latest details (that my community was ranked in the top
20% of the nation’s counties in terms of total off-site transfers
of toxic releases from manufacturing facilities). Clicking the
highlighted county name, the site then provided more details on:
o Air, including cancer risks and the county’s ranking in terms
of emissions of volatile organic compounds.
o Water, with details on the percentage of the water that is
impaired or threatened, the leading sources of water quality
problems in the area and the number of watersheds in the county
used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to have serious
water quality problems.
o Land, with the number of Superfund hazardous waste sites in the
o Toxics, including the names of local companies reporting the
largest environmental releases and the chemicals released in the
largest quantities in the area.
o “More” links are provided on each item for additional details
on every report.
Use the Wildlife section to find out about birds and other
wildlife that live in your part of the wild. And the Gardening
section provides information on what plants are native to your
region and ideas for cultivating them in local gardens.
The Recycling section provides details where to recycle specific
items in the specified ZIP code area, including automotive parts
(motor oil, filters, tires, batteries, etc.), Christmas trees,
electronics (computer equipment, appliances, TVs), glass, metal,
paper, and plastics. Also here are details on offering items for
reuse, such as books, eyeglasses, dishes, furniture, construction
material and local facilities for composting yard waste.
Other considerations for using For My World in your writing and
For express lane use of the site, click the Search link on the
left-hand column of any of its pages. You then will be prompted
for a keyword or phrase.
If you’re planning to write about this site in a feature, be
sure to tell your readers about its “What You Can Do” section of
options on the right side of most of its pages. This column has a
“Take Action” button to send a free fax to decision-makers on
environmental issues. Users can also find a “Tell a Friend” link
to pass on information about specific neighborhoods, an “Ask an
Expert” area for posting questions and getting advice, and a
“Join a Discussion” button to reach the site’s message boards.
Besides the local reports, the site has a collection of
general interest services, linked from the left-side command bar,
including a media kit, answers to frequently asked questions and
a site map. Other links include games and fun, today’s
environmental news, and general reports on issues such as climate
Bowen writes columns, articles and books from West Virginia, and is host of the daily Internet News syndicated radio show (http://www.netnewstoday.com).
Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher