24 September 2007

Mom, the World is Getting Greener

My six-year-old daughter has become quite observant to greening/green washing efforts around her. Her optimism is something to be cherished, when news of climate change, politics, etc. can be quite the opposite. She sees changes, and she tells me, "Mom, the world is getting greener."

Out of the mouths of babes astute observations occur. On a recent shopping trip where we purchased 100% organically grown bed sheets from a major retailer, my daughter said, "Target is really going green." When we noticed that they sold California Baby products, she exclaimed, "That's fabulous!" In another local store, I purchased a pair of organically grown pants that were manufactured using wind power. Once again, my daughter exclaimed, "Mom, the world is really going green." As her awareness of what it means to be green grows, she comments and asks questions to further her understanding.

The constant questioning typical of toddlers ("Why?", "Why?", "Why?") does not go away as children grow. As children reach school age, this questioning becomes more sophisticated as the child tries to understand the world around them. For my daughter, her recent questions have been targeted towards environmental issues.

The other day, my daughter asked me, "Is it eco-friendly to watch TV?", as we were watching the Sundance channel's It's Not Easy Being Green. I responded with an answer that was not clear cut but honest. The television itself is not a green product and contains many toxic materials (just try to dispose of one!); however, since we live off the grid, we are not creating additional carbon while watching it.

Another recent question had to with the air conditioning in the car. Tired of the wind blowing her hair everywhere, she asked me to roll up the windows and turn on the AC. When I refused, she asked why, and I had to explain how running the air conditioner uses more fuel, which in turn creates more carbon, which in turns causes our planet to heat up. This is a hard concept for a six-year-old to grasp. How could something that makes the air feel cooler actually make the planet warmer? The Black Balloons ad can help children understand this concept, by graphically showing children how carbon is released from our energy usage at home.

My daughter's current preoccupation with all things green comes from the modeling we provide as parents. Every purchase we make is carefully analyzed for its impact, with exceptions being made occasionally, and these decisions are discussed. Now my daughter makes the same careful green analysis when she asks for a new toy. She knows that Mom will not buy her any plastic toys that are "bad for the earth." When she wants something, she now makes the argument based upon the item's ecofriendliness. So my dear daughter, yes the world is becoming greener, and you are helping to make it that way!

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"Play is the highest form of research." -Albert Einstein