Making it green is kids stuff

 
April 17, 2011 | by Teena Hammond

School-aged children are often the ones who spur parents into becoming more green. With Earth Day fast approaching on April 22, green topics are even more prevalent in schools, and kids pick up the information and bring it home to their families.

There's even an online forum, Green My Parents.com, that several youth launched last year to encourage young people to convince their parents to bring more green into their homes.

Parents might be more skilled than their kids on some topics, but kids often know more than their parents when it comes to green living and being environmentally friendly.

Carleen Cullen, mother of two children and founder of Cool the Earth, a climate change action program which teaches kids to motivate their parents to make green changes, has watched her program expand to 100 schools in California and 12 additional states. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Bay Area Air District sponsor the program.

The program uses a child-driven model to motivate families to conserve. This model, in which the family acts together out of concern for the dangers of global warming, has recently been cited by the National Household Survey on Global Warming as one of the most effective methods to create positive environmental change.

Sid the Science Kid
The Jim Henson Company is premiering four episodes of Sid the Science Kid to focus on Earth Day this month.

The premise of Cool the Earth is simple. When kids learn about climate change and are empowered to take action, they are a powerful agent for change in their family and in the community. Cullen said the changes can be simple, but effective, and she's heard of plenty of stories from parents and kids since she founded her company in 2006.

"One mom wrote to say she was grocery shopping with her daughter and her daughter kept saying, 'I want to get this,' and this mom assumed it was candy or junk and said 'no' without turning around. But when the mom turned around, the little girl was holding reusable bags and said, 'mom, this will really make a difference.' The mom was so amazed by this experience she bought the reusable bags," Cullen said.

The role reversal is astounding for some parents. No longer are they telling their kids to turn off the lights, but instead, their children are reminding them to conserve energy.

"I have parents who tell me all the time about how they're so happy because the program gives them a platform to have a conversation with their children about energy and about the environment," Cullen said.

Another mom, Randi Ragan, said that her 9-year-old daughter is a huge proponent of being environmentally aware in their California home. She said her situation is a little different, in that she owns a green business so she's initiated green in her home in many instances, but that she sees children making a difference in many households.

"Children can make a change in their household based on what they pick up and bring into the family," Ragan said. "Anybody who is trying to be a green educator definitely wants to start with the kids. Anything you want to convey into the American home, you're smart to do it with the kids because the seeds have been planted at school and it will naturally get shared with the parents."

No child is too young to learn about greening the earth. The Jim Henson Company is premiering four episodes of Sid the Science Kid this month on PBS Kids to teach pre-schoolers about Earth Day. These young children will learn about water conservation, clean air, excess trash and more.

For more information on green topics for kids, visit these websites:

Environmental Education for Kids

Environmental Kids Club

EPA for Students and Educators

EPA Recycle City

Kids for a Clean Environment

Kids for Saving Earth

SmokeyBear.com

National Park Service Web Rangers

EPA Drinking Water and Ground Water Kids' Stuff

 

For more information, see our Going Green At Home Research Center.


Topics: Going Green


Teena Hammond / Teena Hammond has published more than 2,000 articles in People and W magazines, Women's Wear Daily, and in dozens of newspapers and books. She also wrote a home improvement, remodeling and decor column that ran in Gannett newspapers nationwide. She's interested in all things green and would love to hear from you with your story ideas.

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