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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Raising a Green Teen

There’s a sharp contrast between my lifestyle as a teen in the late 70’s and early 80’s and my daughter’s today. Doing a book report involved spending hours at the library pouring through encyclopedias and periodicals and then mindfully plucking away on my Smith Corona typewriter. She can find out anything she wants to know in seconds on Google.

I didn’t talk much to my friends on the landline after school; mom didn’t like me gabbing on the phone. She networks with hundreds of friends on Facebook and texts faster than she can talk. To relax, I would ride my horse or curl up with a book. She has Wii and Rockband.

Back then, I was excitedly trading my 8-track tapes in for “hi-tech” cassette tapes and listening to my favorite static-filled radio station. To see a band perform, I’d go to Carowinds and stand in the hot sun to catch a glimpse of Jefferson Starship. She is a music aficionado and has hundreds of songs on her ipod, and she knows the lyrics to every song from my generation to hers. To see her favorite bands, she’s got You Tube and MTV. About the only thing in common about our teen years are that the clothes I wore then are back in style.

Being a teen, no matter the era, is challenging, but today teens are bombarded with excessive stimulation and distractions from every direction. They are technologically savvy and socially advanced. With so much going on, how do we instill in them the power they have to make the world a better place for themselves and their children? After all, there is no Planet B for them to escape to.

The key to tuning teens into the environment is awareness about issues and problems and then education. Kids follow by example and parents who have adopted a green lifestyle are perfect role models. They instill green values and influence children to understand and live a sustainable life so they can pass it on to future generations.

An average teen uses between 15 and 25 products a day containing some 200 chemicals. From petrolatum in lipsticks to butyl acetate in nail polishes to coal tar in hair dyes and creams, teens have a lot to protest in the beauty industry. If they were educated about safer products, perhaps they would make better choices for personal health environmental health.

Living green means adopting ways of thinking and living that will impact our lives on personal, environmental, social and economical levels. They all interconnect and have tremendous impact and long-term consequences. By giving our kids tools for positive action, they can advocate for greener alternatives, human rights, animal welfare and laws to protect health so someday the world truly will be a better place to line in.

But until then, keep yelling at them to turn the lights off and to stop putting things in the trash that belong in the recycling bin!

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