I was born in a small city called Bhopal, in central India. The city is known for one of the world’s worst industrial catastrophes. Hazardous gas leaked from a pesticide plant in 1984 instantly killing an estimated 3,000 people. Investigations later revealed the disaster could have been avoided with an effective safety action plan. Such incidents are a stark reminder that awareness, education and commitment are crucial to make this planet a safer and better place.
This incident is also a big reason why I love cause marketing. Education is key to making people smarter, safer, greener – whatever it takes to build a better community.
In my quest to further work and learn cause marketing, I was offered my dream job: join the 2012 Tire Life Check (TLC) Tour for Ontario Tire Stewardship (OTS). Our goal is to help Ontarians reduce, reuse and recycle used tires and teach proper tire maintenance techniques for improved safety, economy, fuel efficiency and longevity.
Exciting times! However, my knowledge of tires was somewhat limited to how to get from Point A to Point B behind the wheel. In India, I vividly remember seeing trucks on the road with different size tires and rims on the same vehicle – people are very resourceful!
The TLC Team members were put through an intensive three-day training session. Veterans of the 2011 TLC Tour, the Executive Director of OTS, the head of the Rubber Association of Canada, and many others working with the program, helped expand my knowledge of tire maintenance and safety tenfold. We had a field trip to National Rubber Technologies where we saw first-hand how tires go from old and worn out to new, eco-friendly materials such as gym flooring.
After training, the TLC team hit the road. Armed with pressure gauges and tread wear indicators, we were ready to educate families and drivers on the proper maintenance, disposal and recycling of tires.
Our first stop was the Eco-Wheels event at the Distillery District in Toronto. In addition to working the booth, we fanned out into the parking lot and offered free tire pressure checks. It was heart-warming to see a parent teach his six-year-old son how to check their tire pressure. A good example of how a small teaching moment can create a lifetime of good habits.
From there, we headed to Ottawa for the Canada Day weekend. Coming to Ottawa was nostalgic, as I had spent my first four years in Canada here. We talked to thousands of people who had come to the capital – most of whom had driven and were keen to pick-up safety tips. One elderly lady with a walking stick stopped by and wanted to learn so she could share the tips with her grand-daughter, who had just bought a new car. She herself had never driven. She reminded me of my grandmother who, despite her minimal school education, was always keen to learn new things and share with the family.
After a successful Ottawa trip, Matt, Lindsay and I headed to the TD Sunfest in London. We knew it was going to be hot, but 45 degrees was a bit much! What kept us going were meaningful interactions. Among them was Russ who worked in the automotive repair industry for years and was still throwing old tires in a dumpster – he knew it was wrong. It meant a lot to us to enlighten someone like him on the OTS Used Tires Program.
Having grown up in India, I would never have imagined I could play a role in creating a greener world. Thinking back on my own family experiences, I am looking forward to hearing about the habits and knowledge of families across Ontario. Next stop, the Collingwood Elvis Festival on July 27th for some good ol’ tires and rock n’ roll.
Until we see you in your town: stay safe, stay green and let’s all work towards making a better world.
Ansh – Member of the TLC Team