Guest Post: Author Bonnie J. Doerr – Island Sting

Welcome to Author Bonnie J. Doerr. Yesterday I reviewed Bonnie’s book Island Sting.  Today I’ve welcoming Bonnie to my site for a guest post.

How can a teen with no money help protect endangered animals or the environment?

Oh dear. You may be sorry you asked this question, Kathy. I could write a book. Wait. I already did. Not a green how-to though. Others have done that much better than I ever could (For example: The Green Teen by Jenn Savedge and Generation Green by Linda Sivertsen and Tosh Sivertsen).

The best thing teens can do to protect the environment is to set a good example. Be strong enough to ignore anyone who thinks it’s cool to toss trash out of their car window. It costs nothing to recycle and stash trash. It’s easy to carry a litter bag in your car and empty it at a trash container outside any retail establishment.

Teens can find fun fabric bags to use for shopping instead of accepting plastic bags to carry their purchases. Plastic bags often blow out of trash containers and garbage trucks, creating ecological havoc. Reducing garbage roadside not only makes for a more pleasant visual environment (hopefully contributing to neighborhood pride) but also protects wildlife.

It costs nothing to volunteer for events like neighborhood clean sweeps or simply to pick up a few pieces of litter each day and put them in a trash container. It’s free and can be a fun social experience to join an environmental group online or in person. Check out http://www.teensturninggreen.org/

Teens can reduce their carbon footprint with creative takes on fashion. Instead of buying new clothes that travel thousands of miles using scads of energy, teens can hold fashion swap parties. Everyone brings clothes they’re tired of, then trades or combines separates into new looks or even alters pieces in creative ways. A fashion show makes a grand finale.

But what would life be like without a new outfit once in a while? When buying that mood booster, choose an outfit that doesn’t require dry cleaning. Not only is taking clothes to the cleaners a hassle, but it’s expensive. If dry cleaning is an absolute must (not only is dry cleaning not really *dry*, but it often isn’t needed even though the label says so), try to find a shop that uses greener methods (wet-cleaning or liquid CO2) to reduce its toxic load. Check this list to find a green cleaner near you.
http://www.epa.gov/dfe/pubs/garment/gcrg/cleanguide.pdf

Teens can support companies like Patagonia. Patagonia helps reduce the load on our planet by collecting worn-out clothes and rebuilding them into new garments. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_34/b3998431.htm

Teens can also become smart label shoppers. By reducing their use of petroleum cosmetic products, they can help reduce the effects of climate change. Petroleum (in the form of paraffin oil, propylene glycol, and ethylene) is found in products like lip balm, lotions, lubricants, and many plastic covered products. Choose products containing beeswax, cocoa butter, and vegetable oils instead.

Carpooling to school is a great way to save energy. It can be a social occasion. Driving smoothly and keeping tires inflated saves gas also. And packing a waste free lunch is an easy way to help the planet. A typical American student can generate 67 pounds of school lunch packaging waste per school year. Wash and reuse all containers. When possible, stay away from any throwaway containers. Carry a refillable mug to Starbucks, a reusable stainless water bottle. http://www.ecomall.com/greenshopping/wastefree.htm

As job placement in traditional positions continues to be more challenging, teens should be aware that green careers are growing in leaps and bounds. It costs nothing to explore these careers and in the end may inspire a lucrative profession.
http://www.top-colleges.com/blog/2010/01/31/5-green-jobs-with-a-strong-future/
http://www.greencareercentralblog.com/2008/12/green-career-trends-top-10-green-jobs-for-the-future.html

Becoming a better environmental steward is not about spending. It’s about saving. The hardest part is establishing new habits. Here are a few resources for more information.

Ingredients to avoid in personal care items:
http://www.suite101.com/content/ten-synthetic-personal-care-ingredients-to-avoid-a256629

What you should know about product labels:
http://www.theecologist.org/green_green_living/food_and_drink/441105/how_to_decode_food_labels_and_shop_with_a_conscience.html

To learn more about dry cleaning :
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/09/are_there_green.php

I write about teens with green ideas on my blog http://www.bonnieblogsgreen.blogspot.com/ and would love to feature ideas by your readers. Please invite them to contact me.

Thank you Bonnie for so many wonderful ideas!