Pick 5: A Worldwide Game Of Environmental Survival, Not A Game Of Chance

Mega-Millions, Power Ball, Pick 6, Pick 5… Sound familiar? They should, as they are all names of popular lottery games played here in Indiana and across the country. Many people may think of these lottery games as a simple hobby, something to do with your spare change, even if the chances of winning a big prize is lower than hitting a slot machine jackpot in Las Vegas.

But there is a “Pick 5″ that virtually guarantees every player will be a winner. It’s called Pick 5 for the Environment, an international effort sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of State.

Pick 5 is a community of individuals worldwide taking action to protect our environment.

The idea of Pick 5, which began in 2009, is to choose actions you can take to help reduce waste, save water and/or energy, improve air quality, etc., and pledge to implement them in your daily life.

Your actions are then added to an interactive map showing what other Pick 5 players and their communities around the world are doing to participate.

Pick 5 choices are available in six categories, with basic tasks to help improve our environment, such as:

  • Water: Use only the water you need, and reuse when possible.
  • Air: Buy locally, or grow your own! Reduce air pollution caused by food and goods transport.
  • Land: Learn about ‘Greenscaping’! Try it out at home and promote it in your community.
  • Energy: Save energy at home. Choose energy-saving appliances if they’re available. Look for Energy Star!
  • Waste: Reduce. Cut back on the amount of ‘stuff’ that could later end up as waste.
  • Advocacy: Raise Awareness! Talk to others about the state of the environment, locally or globally.

It all seems pretty simple and straightforward, doesn’t it? But just imagine the effect these simple steps could have if people all over the world actively participated in implementing them.

Unfortunately, Indianapolis and Central Indiana currently has only seven sign-ups; area residents don’t seem to be joining the Pick 5 program in the numbers that some of our neighbors have been.

For example, Chicagoland currently has 189 participants, which means at least 945 actions for the environment are being actively taken. Detroit has 138 Pick 5 members, Cincinnati has 23, and Louisville, 17.

These numbers may seem small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but it is important to remember that every flood starts with a single drop of water. By choosing five or more of these ideas and sharing your own with others, you will be joining thousands of people around the world who are doing the same! With participants in such faraway places as South Africa, Indonesia, and even Iraq and Iran, this is just the type of movement that can grow to be a driving force for positive change.

Take a look at this brief message from US eco-athlete, racecar driver, and Pick 5 participant Leilani Munter.


As the Indianapolis area prides itself as being a leader in civic environmental improvement as the innovative SustainIndy program demonstrates, it’s a little surprising that more Hoosiers have not joined the program. We need to pick up the slack and join in on this growing movement. Don’t leave it for the next guy to do.

Let’s all play a game where everyone’s a winner. To get started, or for more information about Pick 5, go to http://www.epa.gov/pick5/. To play, just select the actions you plan to take, then do them! It’s that simple.

And there are no losing tickets to tear up and dispose of, so you’re already ahead of the game.