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  Sierra Magazine
  January/February 2006
Table of Contents
Interview: Jaime Lerner
Photography of Hope
Decoder: See No Evil
Year One
Ways & Means
One Small Step
Lay of the Land
The Green Life
Hey Mr. Green
Good Going
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Sierra Magazine
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One Small Step: Making Drilling Look Dumb
Interview by Orli Cotel

"I studied the Arctic for six weeks in second grade and fell in love with the gray wolf. When I found out the government wanted to drill there, I got really upset. My mom saw a slide show by this guy Lenny Kohm, who had taken all these pictures of the Arctic, and she asked if I could call and talk to him.

Savannah Walters — Odessa, Florida
Pump 'em Up founder, age 13

"He told me that Americans waste millions of gallons of gas every day by not properly inflating their tires, and I couldn't believe that! I said, 'Well then, why don't we just pump them up?' I got my Girl Scout troop to go to our local train station and put tire gauges, balloons, and flyers on everyone's car. By then I was in the third grade, and we did that and it was a lot of fun. We got Sears and Firestone and Goodyear to donate a thousand tire gauges, and we handed them out for free.

"People began printing my flyers off the Internet. Now they're handing them out everywhere! My best friend Claire helps me, and my other best friends Allie and Sabrina really help me too. People think it's amazing that kids do this stuff, so sometimes kids are more effective.

"I even got to lobby in D.C. One senator didn't agree with me. He said, 'How do you expect people to do this?' I said, 'Whatever! It's easy.' And if we do drill the Arctic, we'll only get about six months of oil.

"It's not just about the Arctic—it's also about drilling off our beaches. We really don't need to. Gas prices are skyrocketing, and if you just inflate the tires, then you save gas, there's less pollution, and you don't have to waste money. We had a big thing on Earth Day to pass out free tire gauges. People said, 'Oh wow, I didn't know that—I'm gonna go check my tires right now!'"

GAS-SAVING TIP: Underinflating tires by as little as five pounds can cut your mileage by 2 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Use the "recommended pressure," found in the owner's manual and often inside the driver's-side front door, not the "maximum pressure" (a limit set to keep tires from exploding).

Learn more about Savannah's group at

Photo by Jay Carlson

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