Chasing Sustainability


13 years ago, Dave Chameides was like everybody else.  He drove to the market, recycled when he could, didn’t litter too much, and generally tried to be a good guy.  As a two-time Emmy Award winning cameraman and DGA director (ER, Third Watch, Studio 60) he was maintaining a nice lifestyle with a lovely wife, nice house, three cars, and no real worries to speak of.

And then everything changed.

After learning that he was to be a father, Chameides had an epiphany of sorts.  He suddenly woke up to the fact that there was more, there was someone who would remain after he was gone, and he realized that he had to change his ways.

So off went the lights and out went the cars.  In came the Prius and up went the solar panels.  While this seemed like a good start, it wasn’t enough.  So Chameides kept investigating.  And as he taught himself, he began to realize that things were much worse than he thought, but that he could also do something about it.

So out went the Prius and in came the veggie car. Up went the compact fluorescent bulbs and down went the number of plastic bags he used.  But still there was more to be done.

Out of frustration Chameides began talking to school groups, religious institutions, and businesses about what they could do in their own lives. He figured he had something to share, so share he would. The seminar he created, Chasing Sustainability, has been heard by groups as small as 10 and as large as 2000 and the feedback from students and teachers alike continues to be overwhelming.

And then came the trash.

On January 1st 2008, Chameides, dubbed Sustainable Dave by friends and media, decided to stop taking out the trash (and the recycling too!) for an entire year.  Instead of throwing it away (wherever that was) he’d start keeping it all in his basement and see what happened.  And as if that wasn’t enough, Chameides, who had never so much as read a blog before let alone created a website, decided that he would list all the waste he created on his own site, 365 Days of Trash , in order to share what he was learning.

Soon the radio stations started calling (check out his theme song) and TV news, internet, and print followed right on their heels.  By the end of the year, Sustainable Dave's  message had been carried as far away as Russia and South Africa, and his site had been visited by a quarter of a million people.  He had been featured in The New York Times, Time Magazine, and on CNN and Good Morning America, just to name a few.  Disney even came calling and made him an environmental animated character in the kids show, Handy Manny.

And what happened to the 28.5 pounds of trash he created during 2008?  It ended up at The Museum of Trash in Hartford, CT of course, where it stands as a permanent exhibit to inspire people to change their ways.

Today, Chameides continues to lecture to schools all over the country and speak about how everyday people can do a tremendous amount to decrease their footprint without living in a cave.  His simple, humorous talks have inspired students to organize, start environmental clubs, and even consider environmental stewardship as their future vocations.  He writes a weekly column for the site Care2, and his motto of "no one can do everything but everyone can do something" has been heard by millions.

While he still works in the film industry, his hope is to take his seminar on the road and travel the country, impacting students everywhere he goes.

If you'd like to be involved in helping change the future, contact him at