As a new parent, ensuring my child grows up as an ecowarrior and not a consumer has become a primary goal with every choice I make for my son—from what I feed him (breast milk) to how I dress him (used clothes and used cloth diapers) to what I teach him (is there a kid’s version of A People’s History of the United States?). So it was a wonderful opportunity to write the introduction to Worldwatch Europe’s new report, From Consumer Kids to Sustainable Childhood. The report is a valuable mix of:
- current trends, like how kids in Europe spend 41.5 hours a week with media (TV, Internet, video games, radio)—more than the average European works;
- case studies about parents grappling with consumerism;
- a vision for what a childhood would look like if kids were raised not as consumers but as “guardians of sustainable living;”
- and some concrete policies to get us to that vision.
While I won’t go into too much detail, I did want to point out a few exciting trends and examples.
1) Did you know that half of Europeans families are choosing to have one child? That alone is a big step in making childhood more sustainable (considering how much ecological impact a child in a high-income country has) and gives me additional confidence in my choice of having “just one” child.
2) There are 39,500 schools in Europe that have been awarded a “Green Flag,” meaning they’ve made a commitment to integrate environmental teachings into the curriculum and empower students to act to make their schools and communities better.
3) According to the report, a ban on fast food advertising in Quebec led to a reduction of the number of fast food meals eaten by 22 million/year. Now we just need the rest of the world to follow suit.
So take a look at the report and watch the presentations from its launch, and if you’re a parent, guard your future ecowarriors from the henchmen of the consumer interests—at least until they’re old enough to defend themselves.
This post was originally written by Erik Assadourian for the Transforming Cultures blog in December 2012.