Kids Lead the Green Energy Movement
Apr 30, 2010
by EmPower Solar
Recently at EmPower we’ve been seeing kids more and more on the “green” scene. Last week, a grade school class dropped in on one of our residential installations. As you can see in the photo above, EmPower’s Brad Morrison gave an impromptu lesson on how solar panels work. Also last week, I went with Robin Broder to the Long Beach Catholic Regional School’s Earth Day celebration where we got to see some of the awesome stewardship projects the kids were working on (pictured below) and spoke to them about their school’s 30 kW solar system. Their understanding of environmental problems was amazing – and their excitement about the solutions even more amazing. They believed in their own power to make positive changes in their homes and communities.
Last Wednesday, Allison Arieff wrote for the NYTimes about the power of kids to lead the green movement. Specifically, she spoke about GreenMyParents, a non-profit led by young people which educates other kids on how to talk to their parents and peers about adopting energy-saving habits. GreenMyParents has a pretty stellar cast of prominent young green leaders at it’s front, including 12-year-old Adora Svitak, whose impressive TED Speech on the power of children’s perspectives can be seen below.
GreenMyParents (GMP) is remarkable for a couple reasons:
- It places kids at the forefront of the movement.
- It leverages economics as a powerful marketing tool.
While Arieff’s articles drew some critical (politically charged) comments from people who felt GMP was indoctrination or would undermine adults’ authority, actually having children speak about green energy issues is an underutilized powerful tool. The youngest of our communities are going to be the ones hardest hit with the economic and environmental consequences of the decisions we are making today – if kids are smart enough to understand what their future may be like (which they are) and if they have opinions about what their future should be like (which they do), then we should take the time to listen. Moreover, knowledge wealth is different when it comes to sustainability issues. Kids growing up today are already using sustainable behaviors – they don’t need to be taught them AND they do have the potential to educate their parents and grandparents about these issues.
If you check out GMP’s About Us page, you see that their goal is to help parents save money ($100 million over the next year to be specific) through conservation measures. GMP acknowledges the important environmental benefits of sustainability, but their stated focus is to help people conserve resources and save money. This is messaging that people relate to: how can I save money? People are not receptive to being criticized for damaging the environment, but everyone wants to know how they can spend a little less. The green movement in general should be emphasizing the economic savings AND the potential for job growth which come with sustainability projects. Green jobs – energy auditing, weatherization, solar system installation – are jobs which can’t be outsourced. This is another issue which young people also care about: being able to get work when they enter the job market.
Enjoy this video of Adora Svitak wowing the TED Crowd: