Parents, Schools Urged to Create 'Eco-Conscious' Kids

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:04 PM EDT

( - As a new school year begins, one environmental activist group is urging parents and schools to make concern for the environment part of the younger generation's mindset and "lifestyle."

Turn the kids into recyclers and waste-cutters, says the World Wildlife Fund, which offers several "tips on making your children environmentally conscious in the new school year."

For starters, kids should use "post-consumer, recycled" notebook paper and cedar pencils - and they should know why they're doing it.

"Wooden pencils certified with the Forest Stewardship Council's (FSC) 'CedarMark' of approval ensures that pencils come from the cedar forests that are grown, managed, and harvested on a sustained-yield basis according to forestry regulations," said the WWF in a press release.

The WWF says parents should have their children use solar-powered calculators and rechargeable batteries; no "brown-bag" lunches - reusable lunch sacks are encouraged, but only if the lunch bag is durable enough to allow for constant wear. The group discourages the tossing out of (cheaply made) reusable items.

In the same vein, the WWF wants parents to avoid buying pre-packaged lunch items and purchase bulk food instead. The food can then be re-packed into reusable containers. Sandwiches should be wrapped in wax paper, not plastic wrap, because "the manufacturing process used to produce plastic wrap is harsher on the environment," the WWF says.

Forget about paper book covers. Kids should use nylon, washable book covers from one year to another, according to the WWF's tip sheet.

But more important than the recycling itself is the "eco-conscious" message such behavior sends to kids, the WWF contends: "The true benefit comes from engaging in dialogue with your children about the importance of taking these eco-conscious steps."

"Talk to them about Earth's limited capacity for waste. Contact your children's school and encourage an environmental education and recycling program complete with assemblies, class discussions, and environmental awareness poster contests," the press release says.

For some conservatives, the "recycling" message isn't the problem. They are more concerned about schools unwittingly pushing the environmentalists' political agenda -- unopposed by those who disagree.

See Earlier Story:
Who's Teaching Your Kids About the Environment? (27 Aug. 2001)\cf2