Immersed in environmentalism at school, in houses of worship and even via popular culture, a growing army of “eco-kids” are holding their parents accountable at home, reports the New York Times.
“I have very, very environmentally conscious children — more so than me, I’m embarrassed to say,” said Ms. Ross, a social worker in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. “They’re on my case about getting a hybrid car. They want me to replace all the light bulbs in the house with energy-saving bulbs.”
The pint-size eco police pore over garbage bins in search of errant recyclables and they turn off the lights after their parents leave empty rooms.
They learn this stuff everywhere. The Girl Scouts recently added patches including “Environmental Health” and “Earth Pact.” Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, has teamed up with the American Museum of Natural History to create Web sites and magazines about climate change and other environmental issues. Scholastic’s message board, called Save the Planet, where children share eco-friendly tips, has had three million page views in the past twelve months.
School districts across the country are jumping on the green bandwagon by adding lessons on the environment to their curriculums in many subject areas, as well as enforcing idle-free zones in school driveways, switching to plant-based cleaners, doing away with pesticides and, in some places, installing solar panels.
“Kids have really turned into the little conscience sitting in the back seat,” said Julia Bovey, a spokeswoman for the Natural Resources Defense Council, a leading environmental group that recently worked with Nickelodeon on a series of public service announcements and other programming called “Big Green Help.”
“One of the fascinating things about children is that they don’t separate what you are doing from what you should be doing,” Ms. Bovey said. “Here’s this information about how we can help the environment, and kids are not able to rationalize it away the way that adults do.”
Lacking the sense of social boundaries that older people have, children have no shame in taking their environmental lectures outside their home. Liz DiVittorio, of Raleigh, N.C., a mother of three, recalled walking with her 10-year-old son, Michael, this summer after a rainstorm and seeing a neighbor running his sprinkler.
“My son looked at him and said, ‘Why are you watering your lawn? It just rained,’ ” said Ms. DiVittorio, who works for a software company. “I sat there and cringed.”