Get Inspired!

Sustainability Videos (2011-2017)

videoEach month we will features a different video of the best sustainability talks from, TED conferences and other online content of interest.


The Environmental Cost of Free Two-day Shipping
79% of Americans shop online. What effect does shipping all our stuff have on our planet?

The Invisible Universe of the Human Microbiome
There are 10 times more cells from microorganisms like bacteria and fungi in and on our bodies than there are human cells.

60 MiNueTs: Toxic Bodies
Rates of asthma have increased 3-fold in the last 30 years, and childhood cancers have increased by 40%. What toxins are we still exposed to that might cause these poor health conditions?

Eating our way to Extinction
A cinematic documentary exposing the true cost of eating animals. It takes a look at the western diet health epidemic, the twisted economics within the meat and dairy industries and presents shifting towards a plant-based lifestyle.

Boiling The Frog with Al Franken
Senator Franken talks about climate change by making an analogy: an overweight heavy smoker wants to find a doctor who will tell him he doesn’t have to change his lifestyle at all. The question is, just who is this doctor?

UC/Vox Climate Lab Video Series

Episode 6 - Scientists really aren’t the best champions of climate science
Facts and data alone won’t inspire people to take action in the fight against global warming. So what will?

Episode 5 - The fight to rethink (and reinvent) nuclear power
New nuclear energy technology has come a long way - but can we get over our fears? In this episode, host Dr. M. Sanjayan explores the dangers of nuclear power and possible options for building safer, more efficient, power plants.

Episode 4 - Food waste is the world’s dumbest problem
Host Dr. M. Sanjayan explores solutions to combat food waste - starting with a box of donuts at MIT and ending with a UC Berkeley alum who is working to end world hunger

Episode 3 - Why your old phones collect in a junk drawer of sadness
Could fixing the way we make our phones help reduce our impact on climate change?

Episode 2 - Going green shouldn’t be this hard
Going green does not need to be a sacrifice, either for us as individuals or for businesses, governments and the economy.

Episode 1 - Why humans are so bad at thinking about climate change
The biggest problem for the climate change fight isn’t technology – it’s human psychology.

Video: An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power
Climate Changes, Truth Does Not. Vice President Al Gore continues his tireless fight traveling around the world training an army of climate champions and influencing international climate policy.

Video: Everywhere you go, the environment surrounds you
Everywhere you go, the environment surrounds you. That’s why we need to support strong environmental policies and laws.

Video: Merchants of Doubt
Merchants of Doubt tells the controversial story of how a loose-knit group of high-level scientists and scientific advisers, with deep connections in politics and industry, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades.
Watch the trailer:

Video: Stand up for Science Rally
In mid-December scientists took to the streets in San Francisco to protect science.  About 500 people participated in the ‘rally to stand up for science’ including UCSF’s Dr. Tom Newman and Dr. Robert Gould. See the rally in action below.


Video: Healthy Living Just Got That Easy

From food to shampoo – we are exposed to chemicals every second, yet we know very little about them. To navigate this complicated world and make safer choices, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) combined two of its most popular resources to form the Healthy Living App. Scan a product; review its rating; pick the better choice. Go here to download the app.


Video: Before the Flood

From Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Fisher Stevens and Academy Award-winning actor, and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio, BEFORE THE FLOOD presents a riveting account of the dramatic changes now occurring around the world due to climate change.

Video: Do No Harm

In our fight against climate change, health care stands at a turning point in history and we can move to a tipping point. It’s within our power and our mission. Join us as health care bends toward a more just and sustainable future.

Video: Buses and Biofuels: Sustainable Transportation - California Academy of Sciences

Transportation of people and all of our stuff accounts for almost one-third of all carbon emissions in the U.S. This means that if you want to reduce your carbon footprint, one of the biggest ways you can make a difference is by how you get around.


Video:  The Lancet Climate Commission:  How can we transform climate change from a threat to an opportunity to improve global health?

The 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change maps out the impacts of climate change, and the necessary policy responses, to ensure the highest attainable standards of health for populations worldwide. The central finding from the Commission is that tackling climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century.

Video:  How to Choose a Safe Sunscreen — Mother Earth Living

When you’re shopping for sunscreen, there are a couple of ingredients you want to look for, and a couple that you want to avoid. Avoid sunscreens that list retinol or retinyl palmitate (also known as vitamin A). This ingredient has been found to increase the risk of skin cancer when exposed to sunlight. Also avoid oxybenzone, a common chemical found in about 80 percent of sunscreens. See our July article that highlights the Environmental Working Group’s list of recommended sunscreens.

Bhutan’s Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay

Deep in the Himalayas, on the border between China and India, lies the Kingdom of Bhutan, which has pledged to remain carbon neutral for all time. In this illuminating talk, Bhutan’s Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay shares his country’s mission to put happiness before economic growth and set a world standard for environmental preservation.

Video:  Medical Students Take Action on Climate Change

A group of students gathered in Taipei, Taiwan, for three days to discuss the health issues of climate change. The workshop was lead by IFMSA Think Global Initiative, in collaboration with the Global Climate & Health Alliance.


Video:  Sacred Earth, Sacred Trust 2016

Sacred Earth, Sacred Trust is a worldwide, multi-faith day of prayer & action for the planet and a call for world leaders to commit to a 1.5 degree limit on global temperature rise. Six months after world leaders reached the Paris Agreement, communities around the world will come together in a day of beautiful commitment and blessing for the earth. On June 12 faith communities around the world are stepping outside for a day of celebration and action for the earth.


The Case for Optimism on Climate Change

Al Gore

Why is Al Gore optimistic about climate change? In this spirited talk, Gore asks three powerful questions about the man-made forces threatening to destroy our planet — and the solutions we’re designing to combat them. (Featuring Q&A with TED Curator Chris Anderson).  Go HERE to see the video.

Stunning time-lapse will make you see the heavens in a whole new light!
Chris Pritchard spent over five years shooting for this very special time-lapse film that shows the sky in all its splendor, from Los Angeles, Big Sur and Yosemite to New York City, New Zealand and Tokyo.


Climate Change: Our greatest health threat, or our greatest opportunity for better health?

Watch this short video from The Global Climate and Health Alliance about how climate change could be the biggest global health threat of the 21st century. But they believe that by working together, we can turn it into this century’s greatest opportunity for public health.


Two Weeks of COP 21 in 10 Minutes

An historic pact to combat climate change and unleash actions and investment towards a low carbon, resilient and sustainable future was agreed by 195 nations in Paris. See the best moments of COP21.



The Paris Climate Negotiations

At the end of November, diplomats will gather in Paris for the most high-stakes dinner party yet: Their orders are likely to affect our collective climate future.


Billions in Change 2015

Billions in Change Trailer 2015 - Manoj Bhargava. The world is facing some huge problems. There’s a lot of talk about how to solve them. But talk doesn’t reduce pollution, or grow food, or heal the sick. That takes doing. This film is the story about a group of doers, the elegantly simple inventions they have made to change the lives of billions of people, and the unconventional billionaire spearheading the project. To see the official film, click here.


Gary Cohen Named 2015 MacArthur Fellow

Gary Cohen, Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth’s founder and President, was named as one of the 2015 fellows of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. For more than 20 years, Cohen has led the health sector in repositioning institutional practices around sustainability, climate change and community health.


Obama’s clean power plan hailed as US’s strongest ever climate action

Hundreds of businesses including eBay, Nestlé and General Mills have issued their support for Barack Obama’s clean power plan, billed as the strongest action ever on climate change by a US president. The rules, announced on Monday, are designed to cut emissions from power plants and have been strengthened in terms of the long-term ambition as originally proposed by the president last year.


Why Hospitals are Making us Sick

In her just-released TEDMED talk, Robin Guenther, Principal at global architecture and design firm Perkins+Will and Senior Advisor at Health Care Without Harm, explores some unusual connections between health and environmental design.

Greening Labs:  -70 is the new - 80

My Green Labs is a non-profit organization formed by a group of former scientists and engineers interested in promoting green technology and practices to science labs. Check out this video from them on reducing energy use in labs by adjusting freezer settings.


Greening the OR

UCSF’s many accomplishments greening the medical center were recognized at the recent Practice Greenhealth awards.  Check out this short video from Practice Greenhealth on greening the OR. 


Nature is Speaking.  Are you Listening?

Conservation International’s new campaign Nature is Speaking features a series of enlightening, short videos.  Robert Redford is the voice of an ancient Redwood. Julia Roberts is Mother Nature.  If you do just one thing on Earth Day, watch one of the videos and Tweet #natureisspeaking to raise $1 for land conservation.



Story of Solutions

The Story of Solutions explores how we can move our economy in a more sustainable and just direction, starting with orienting ourselves toward a new goal.  Produced by The Story of Stuff.  Visit their booth at the 2015 LivingGreen Fair.


Environmental Working Group Teen Body Burden

Supporting the piece on The Story of Health, Jessica Assaf, EWG teen body burden study participant and natural beauty entrepreneur, discusses the results of the study and how EWG’s Skin Deep Database changed her life.


How to be a More Effective Agent of Change

Great ideas from sustainability expert Alan AtKisson on how to be a green change agent.


How Dust Bunnies Can Make You Sick

Dust bunnies are seriously dangerous. Those tiny globs of grime are much more than simple household nuisances. They can contain noxious flame retardant chemicals that leak out of living room furniture like couches. Once free of the upholstery, these toxins are especially harmful to children and pets, acting as carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. With the passage of SB 1019, effective January 1, 2015, it will be easier to identify and purchase flame retardant-free furniture.  See our January post on how to minimize exposure to flame retardants here.


People’s Climate March

Over 400,000 people marched in the streets of New York City to demand action to end the climate crisis.  UCSF was represented at the march.  Check out this video for highlights:


Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio’s opening remarks at the 2014 United Nations Climate Summit in New York City.


Bella Gaia

While many events provide wonderful entertainment, few have an impact on people’s perspectives about life on Earth in such a positive way.  Cirque du Soleil is spectacular and dazzling, but the audience doesn’t leave with a thoughtful experience about what they have just witnessed.  The Full Bella Gaia Ensemble premier in the San Francisco Bay Area at the Marin Civic Center - Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium — Oct. 11 at 8 pm (information on tickets here). 

Bella Gaia is an unprecedented audiovisual experience that combines NASA satellite imagery of Earth, time lapse nature photography, and cultural heritage footage with stirring live performances of music and dance from around the world.  Inspired by astronauts who spoke of the life changing power of seeing the Earth from space, director-composer Kenji Williams’ award winning Bella Gaia successfully simulates the Overview Effect from space flight, by using NASA supercomputer data-visualizations to explore the relationship between humans and nature through time and space, with a “message of oneness amidst a deeply moving and shimmering soundscape that combines sacred dance with gorgeous sets and stunning imagery” (Blog Talk Radio).

Check out this beautiful 5 minute clip for some inspiration.


BELLA GAIA Ensemble Promo from BellaGaia on Vimeo.

Saving the Oceans can Feed the World

What’s a marine biologist doing talking about world hunger? Well, says Jackie Savitz, fixing the world’s oceans might just help to feed the planet’s billion hungriest people. In an eye-opening talk, Savitz tells us what’s really going on in our global fisheries right now — it’s not good — and offers smart suggestions of how we can help them heal, while making more food for all.


Have you ever had someone challenge you for why you eat organic food?  Or curious what the benefits are?  If so, this video is for you.  Dr. Andrew Weil, renowned medical expert on natural health and wellness, tells why and how he uses the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists from the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) Shoppers Guide to Pesticides.  While the video is from 2010, you can see highlights of the Dirty Dozen 2014 here.


If you missed the Goldman Environmental Awards this year, check out this powerful and inspiring speech by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.  His voice is a tad hoarse, but his message comes through loud and clear.


The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee may soon vote, for the first time in nearly 40 years on reforming our federal chemical system. The problem is, the bill they are voting on, the Chemicals in Commerce Act, well… stinks. And for that reason your U.S. Representative needs to hear from you.  Learn more here, take action here and check out the short video below to inspire you.

Daphne Miller talks about her new book: Farmacology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing

Family physician and UCSF faculty, Daphne Miller long suspected that farming and medicine were intimately linked.  Increasingly disillusioned by mainstream medicine’s mechanistic approach to healing and fascinated by the farming revolution that is changing the way we think about our relationship to the earth, Miller left her medical office and traveled to seven innovative family farms across the country to better understand the connections between sustainable agriculture and the health of her patients.  The product of her adventures is Farmacology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing, a compelling new vision for health and healing and a treasure trove of farm-to-body lessons that have immense value in our daily lives.  This clip is slightly longer than the one’s we normally post, but if you miss Dr. Millers talk on May 7th, you might enjoy it.


The Investment Logic of Sustainability

Learn about the basics of socially responsible investing (SRI). 


NOMADgarden at Mission Bay

Learn more about the NOMADgarden to arrive soon at Mission Bay.


How to Use One Paper Towel

R. P. Joe Smith served as a District Attorney in Umatilla County and nearly won a race for Oregon Attorney General without taking a single contribution over $99.99. He is a former chair of the Oregon Democratic Party and is active with several local nonprofits.  In this lively TED talk, he demonstrates how to save paper and trees by drying your hands using only one paper towel.  Try it!  And remember to conserve water while washing your hands as well.


Yvon Chouinard: The company as activist

This is the CEO whose ad campaign commanded, “Don’t buy this jacket.” Patagonia founder Chouinard captivated the GreenBiz Forum audience in this compelling talk with Joel Makower, GreenBiz chairman and executive editor, in February, 2014.

Highlight: “Apple doesn’t want you to fix your phone, they want you to buy a new one next year. I can’t relate to a company like that.”

Patagonia recently became the biggest name in the apparel industry to weave Fair Trade certification into its supply chain.

David MacKay: A reality check on renewables

How much land mass would renewables need to power a nation like the UK? An entire country’s worth. In this pragmatic talk, David MacKay tours the basic mathematics that show worrying limitations on our sustainable energy options and explains why we should pursue them anyway.  As an information theorist and computer scientist, David MacKay uses hard math to assess our renewable energy options.


Pam Warhurst: How we can eat our landscapes

What should a community do with its unused land? Plant food, of course. With energy and humor, Pam Warhurst tells at the TEDSalon the story of how she and a growing team of volunteers came together to turn plots of unused land into communal vegetable gardens, and to change the narrative of food in their community.

Pam Warhurst cofounded Incredible Edible, an initiative in Todmorden, England dedicated to growing food locally by planting on unused land throughout the community.


Andras Forgacs: Leather and meat without killing animals

By 2050, it will take 100 billion land animals to provide the world’s population with meat, dairy, eggs and leather goods. Maintaining this herd will take a huge, potentially unsustainable toll on the planet. What if there were a different way? In this eye-opening talk, tissue engineering advocate Andras Forgacs argues that biofabricating meat and leather is a civilized way to move past killing animals for hamburgers and handbags.


Scott Dinsmore:  Live Your Legend

A new theme in sustainability is flourishing—that as we tap our potential personally, not only will we thrive, but so will the planet.  Scott Dinsmore’s mission is to change the world by helping people find what excites them and build a career around the work only they are capable of doing. He is a career change strategist whose demoralizing experience at a Fortune 500 job launched his quest to understand why 80% of adults hate the work they do, and more importantly, to identify what the other 20% were doing differently. His research led to experiences with thousands of employees and entrepreneurs from 158 countries. Scott distilled the results down to his Passionate Work Framework - three surprisingly simple practices for finding and doing work you love, that all happen to be completely within our control. He makes his career tools available free to the public through his community at

Johan Rockstrom:  Let the environment guide our development

As UCSF kicks off Race to Certfication, you might be wondering, how can using less paper and energy at the office make a difference.  Human growth has strained the Earth’s resources, and Johan Rockstrom reminds us, our advances also give us the science to recognize this and change behavior. His research has found nine “planetary boundaries” that can guide us in protecting our planet’s many overlapping ecosystems.  Johan Rockström works to redefine sustainable development and provides a big picture perspective of what needs to happen.


TEDxTeen - Jeremy Heimans - Aim Higher Than President

Jeremy Heimans (@jeremyheimans) is co-founder and CEO of, the world’s leading incubator for social movements and new experiments in mass digital participation. Jeremy has been building movements since he was a precocious little brat in his native Australia, running media campaigns and lobbying politicians from the age of eight on issues like environmental degradation and nuclear proliferation.


Jason Clay: How big brands can help save biodiversity

Convince just 100 key companies to go sustainable, and WWF’s Jason Clay says global markets will shift to protect the planet our consumption has already outgrown. Hear how his extraordinary roundtables are getting big brand rivals to agree on green practices first—before their products duke it out on store shelves.

Jason Clay is a WWF vice-president who works with big corporations to transform the global markets they operate in, so we can produce more with less land, less water and less pollution.


Alex Laskey:  How behavioral science can lower your energy bill

What’s a powerful way to help people use less power at home? Pit them against their neighbors. As founder and president of Opower, Alex Laskey helps utility companies show customers, right on their utility bills, where their own house sits on the spectrum of neighborhood energy wasters—and how to beat the game. It seems silly, but the large-scale reductions in energy usage are no joke.

Opower works with more than 80 utilities on three continents, and serves over 15 million customers. Since its launch in 2008, it has cumulatively saved utility customers more than $200 million and 2 terawatt hours (TWh) of energy—enough to power a city of more than a quarter million people. It’s all through a powerful combination of behavioral science, data analytics and good marketing.


Back to the Roots

Back to the Roots was founded by Alejandro Velez & Nikhil Arora during their last semester at UC Berkeley in 2009. Two months away from graduation, and heading into the corporate world of investment banking & consulting, they came across the idea during a class lecture of being able to potentially grow gourmet mushrooms entirely on recycled coffee grounds. Inspired by the idea of turning waste into wages & fresh, local food, they experimented in Alex’s fraternity kitchen, ultimately growing one test bucket of tasty oyster mushrooms on recycled coffee grounds. With that one bucket, some initial interest from Whole Foods & Chez Panisse and a $5,000 grant from the UC Berkeley Chancellor for social innovation, they decided to forget the corporate route, and instead, become full-time urban mushroom farmers!

Agriculture for the Next Generation

A skyrocketing demand for food means that agriculture has become the largest driver of climate change, biodiversity loss and environmental destruction. At TEDxTC Jonathan Foley shows why we desperately need to begin “terraculture”—farming for the whole planet.  Jonathan Foley studies complex environmental systems and their affects on society. His computer models have shown the deep impact agriculture is having on our planet.


Are Mushrooms the New Plastic? at TEDglobal2010

Product designer Eben Bayer reveals his recipe for a new, fungus-based packaging material that protects fragile stuff like furniture, plasma screens—and the environment.  Bayer is co-inventor of MycoBond, an organic (really—it’s based on mycelium, a living, growing organism) adhesive that turns agriwaste into a foam-like material for packaging and insulation.


Paper or plastic or what? Leyla Acaroglu at TED2013

We all know sustainability is essential to our future, in vague terms. But what does that mean for the choices we make every day? In other words: paper or plastic? For one thing, design consultant Leyla Acaroglu wants you to think beyond choosing a material for your grocery tote. Instead, she encourages us to think about the entire life of a finished product, to think hard about the net impact a product has on the environment. This is life-cycle thinking, not just whether a product can be recycled, but all the parts of its existence: material extraction, manufacturing, packaging and transportation, product use, and end of life. Every step of the way, there’s a way to do something smart to make the most out of the product for net environmental gain.


Dan Gilbert:  The Surprising Science of Happiness:  I was recently struck by a sustainable business panel where one of the speakers shared that he was doing his part to be more sustainable by consuming less.  Since we often think buying and consuming makes us happier, I thought this classic Ted talk on what makes us happy might be of interest.

Dan Gilbert, author of “Stumbling on Happiness,” challenges the idea that we’ll be miserable if we don’t get what we want. Our “psychological immune system” lets us feel truly happy even when things don’t go as planned.  Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert says our beliefs about what will make us happy are often wrong—a premise he supports with intriguing research, and explains in his accessible and unexpectedly funny book, Stumbling on Happiness


James Hansen - Top climate scientist James Hansen tells the story of his involvement in the science of and debate over global climate change. In doing so he outlines the overwhelming evidence that change is happening and why that makes him deeply worried about the future.

Murray Wilson - ewaste and the social landfill - Murray’s concern with the problems presented by unwanted but usable old computers being discarded in landfills led him to an unexpected solution. He talks to TEDxCreativeCoast 2010 about the problems of e-waste, the digital divide, and how a local youth organization is tackling a small part of the problem by giving back to those most in need.

Aex Steffen - founder Alex Steffen argues that reducing humanity’s ecological footprint is incredibly vital now, as the western consumer lifestyle spreads to developing countries.  Alex Steffen explores our planet’s future, telling powerful, inspiring stories about the hard choices facing humanity ... and our opportunity to create a much better tomorrow.

Arthur Potts Dawson - If you’ve been in a restaurant kitchen, you’ve seen how much food, water and energy can be wasted there. Chef Arthur Potts-Dawson shares his very personal vision for drastically reducing restaurant, and supermarket, waste—creating recycling, composting, sustainable engines for good (and good food).  Arthur Potts Dawson wants us to take responsibility not just for the food we eat, but how we shop for and even dispose of it. And he’s showing the way—with impeccable taste.

Al Gore - With the same humor and humanity he exuded in An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore spells out 15 ways that individuals can address climate change immediately, from buying a hybrid to inventing a new, hotter “brand name” for global warming.  Once the US Vice President, then star of An Inconvenient Truth, now Nobel Peace Prize winner, Al Gore found a way to focus the world’s attention on climate change. In doing so, he has invented a new medium—the Keynote movie—and reinvented himself.

Ray Anderson - At his carpet company, Ray Anderson has increased sales and doubled profits while turning the traditional “take / make / waste” industrial system on its head. In a gentle, understated way, he shares a powerful vision for sustainable commerce.  Ray Anderson founded the company that makes covetable Flor carpeting. But behind the fresh design is a decades-deep commitment to sustainable ways of doing business—culminating in the Mission Zero plan.