“GREEN WISH” MAKES A LOCAL IMPACT
An Interview with Raphael Sbarge
By Randy Peyser
Raphael Sbarge is the Founder of Green Wish, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping local environmental organizations raise funds in their communities through barcoded donation cards situated in local retail shops.
While Raphael may be known for his roles in such films as Risky Business, My Science Project, Independence Day, Pearl Harbor, and others, or for his seasons on The Guardian, or for his appearances on TV movies, such as, Billionaire Boys Club, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, and others, the actor is just as equally passionate about making a positive environmental impact on the world his two children will inherit.
Randy Peyser: How did Green Wish get started?
Raphael Sbarge: I am a dad and the birth of my daughter was my inspiration. About five years ago, when I looked around, I thought about what she would get from inheriting all of “this.” I started to think about what I could do as a parent. There is so much need. I saw Green Wish as a way to make a difference.
Randy: How does Green Wish work?
Raphael: There are barcoded cards at cash registers in stores. People make donations and the funds get encoded into an account that is associated with Green Wish.
Randy: How many organizations do you fund?
Raphael: Nine local green organizations that cover the gamut — from sustainable education, to covering the air, water, the forests and more. 90% of the money that gets collected goes directly to these organizations.
Randy: Which organizations do you fund?
Raphael: Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots, www.rootsandshoots.org; Organic Farming Research Foundation, http://ofrf.org; Santa Monica Baykeeper, www.smbaykeeper.org; Surfrider Foundation, www.surfrider.org; Northeast Trees, www.northeasttrees.org; Los Angeles Conservation Corps, www.lacorps.org; Friends of Los Angeles River, http://folar.org; Coalition for Clean Air, www.coalitionforcleanair.org; Algalita Marine Research Foundation, www.algalita.org
Randy: How much money have you raised?
Raphael: $50,000 over two years. That’s not nearly enough, but it’s a good beginning. When I call organizations to let them know we’ll be sending money to them, they often burst into tears. They said, “We need this money so much,” and “this is such a wonderful and creative way to expand our reach.” I find working on Green Wish to be a “natural Prozac” because I feel good when I’m working on it.
Randy: Is Green Wish only in Los Angeles?
Raphael: Right now it is. Once we get larger, we can “clone” the program all over the country.
Randy: Where can people donate in Los Angeles?
Raphael: Our local sponsors are Anawalt Lumber, UNIQUE Los Angeles, M Street Coffee, Rev 7, KellyGreen, TailWashers, Extrabux.com, and The Green Garmento.
Randy: Are you working on any other kinds of programs?
Raphael: We started an “EEK-O”-Halloween Program. We’re providing access to the schools for these nine environmental groups to speak to the children so the kids learn about the environment from a local point of view.
For Halloween, the children also carry a box with a globe on it. It allows them to raise money for the nine local groups. The children write their “Green Wish” on their boxes. Some of their green wishes are to: “plant more trees; recycle more; be kind to the animals; have flying cars that don’t use gasoline;” and “don’t use oil that kills birds and turtles.”
The EEK-O-Halloween Program gives kids a tactile sense of what is happening around them environmentally, and it shows them the good work that people are doing.
Randy: Ed Begley, Jr. (who I’ve written about in this issue), and his wife, Rachelle, are very supportive of Green Wish. Can you talk about their involvement?
Raphael: Ed and Rachelle were excited about the idea of Green Wish when I first approached them. Other than Al Gore, Ed Begley is the face of the environmental movement. Thank God Ed Begley exists in the world. He does so much good and is tirelessly committed to making sure the word gets out. He liked the idea that one organization could help many.
Ed and Rachelle know the money will get to the organizations to which it is promised. Ed also helped provide vision, and he knows which organizations are doing good work. For Ed, and for me, too, it’s all about the next generation and what we are going to leave our children.
Randy: Where do you see the biggest need?
Raphael: Global warming. We just did a series of interviews about global warming from a scientist’s point of view with Jess Adkins, a climatologist on our Board. There are many aspects related to global warming. You can make a difference through legislation, or through education, by teaching children to recycle, to reuse, to plant more trees, or by considering what you’re putting into the water or spraying into the air.
Randy: Do you have any upcoming events?
Raphael: Yes, Ed and Rachelle are building the most ecologically-advanced home in North America, and perhaps in the world. Look for our web series documentary about it. It’s called, “On Begley Street.” Ed and Rachelle took their 1936 home and deconstructed it. They recycled 94% of the materials for that house. For example, the drywall was ground up into gypsum and given to avocado farmers; the light fixtures and windows went to Habitat for Humanity. The lumber was shipped to Mexico and turned into a chapel.
It’s a remarkable project and they have an incredible team of builders. They have a solar array on the worksite, so they are working from the power of the sun.
Randy: What is your wish for the planet?
Raphael: My wish is that we can hopefully leave the planet a little better, or at least, no worse, than how we received it, for the next generation.
For more information, or to volunteer for Green Wish, please go to GreenWish.com
Randy Peyser is the author of The Power of Miracle Thinking, www.MiracleThinking.com She also edits books and helps people find agents and publishers. www.AuthorOneStop.com