How to Turn People Green

greenhand.jpgUpdate: Mar. 16, 2013 Irish or not, you knew we’d feature green today, as famous landmarks light up in green throughout the globe for St Patrick’s Day…We’re going to continue our eco-focus gearing up for National Wildlife Week March 18-24, 2013 to turn kids from ‘eco-worriers to eco-warriors’ …so put your green LifeGoggles on and find out How to Turn Your Parents Green.

Here are a few fresh  ideas from “Go Green Times Three”  with fun ways to grow a greener community, along with our prior post on green science shenanigans including tons of green media, but today’s focus is a reprise on nurturing nature and “how to turn people green.” But what does “green” even mean? How can we engage green teens to act on their eco-ideas?

Here’s more in the original post: Mar. 2008: As a kamaaina, I’m anxious to try ‘gaming for a green planet’ with Hulala Girls (I’m writing a feature for EcoChild’s Play once we ‘surf it, shake it’ in their virtual world awhile)…And there’s plenty of greening of the X-games, with daredevil snowboarders noshing and joshing using corn forks, pressed potato dish derivatives etc., including 3-time X-games gold medalist Gretchen Bleiler)…

But every green site may have their own interpretation of ‘green,’ from products derived from eco-sound materials and socially conscious means to ‘certifications’ being touted so much it drives even stalwart treehuggers up a tree.

So how does one discern? For now I’m going to focus on what ‘green’ means in label lingo…

greenappleworld.jpgAfter all, as Daily Candy noted the overwhelm of keeping up with green info, “it’s not easy going green; it’s enough to make even the most curious consumer’s head spin faster than the turbines on a wind farm!”

There are ‘sassier shades of green’ like Ideal Bite which is what I call ‘activism light’ in tidy morsels of doability (Chron article on ‘eco-chic’ here) and full blown communities like Treehugger that lead social change as an info-packed portal.

Here’s Treehugger’s take on the new OASIS ‘organic beauty’ label being bogus…And gal pal MC Milker’s piece, “Everything Natural, Isn’t” from the Not Quite Crunchy Parent blog.

If you’re looking for a straightforward primer this is a helpful blurb via the Green Girl Guide:

“…When it comes to “organic” and “natural,” it’s all about the label, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“100 Percent Organic” means that every single ingredient in the product is organically grown–no pesticides, chemical fertilizers, bio-engineered or irradiated ingredients.

“Certified Organic” products contain at least 95 percent organically grown ingredients. And “Eco Cert” also contains at least 95 percent, as certified by an independent European agency, not the USDA.

While we’re at it, “vegan” products are not animal tested and contain no animal ingredients such as honey or milk–but they aren’t “organic” unless they say so.

And “natural” is totally unregulated–it can mean that a product contains plant-derived ingredients and is cruelty- and preservative-free, but because “natural” is simply a descriptive, it could also mean the manufacturer just threw it on the label to make a sale.”

Whew. Thanks, green girls. Got it.

greengirlguide.jpg Their ever-hip site spans from eco-mama tidbits and spoofing green dating jargon to posing the inevitable teen scene question, “If green is the new black, shouldn’t you know what you’re wearing?”™

This prescient tagline fits with Shaping Youth’s own goals in our ‘m-power’ media enrichment-spins on youth fashion to encourage ‘ecofabulous’ teens, much like the Teens for Safe Cosmetics team that we’re hoping to team with down the line!

Here’s their eco-fashion show/green spa efforts (at left) via their parent org, Search for a Cause, to raise awareness about cancer causing agents in shampoo, lotion, and grooming products.

Similarly, we ‘counter-market cool’ when kids become branded as ‘human billboards’ with ‘must-have’ logos by retracing the origins of ‘what they’re wearing,’ seamlessly to help shred the fallacies and zip up the critical thinking skills. Students begin to ‘think green’ early on, be aware of their purchasing power and choices, and are often shifted in influence from fashionista to passionista…

greenparents.jpgIn fact, much like the book at left, we’ve found youth are able to ‘sell in’ notions to parents in a reverse marketing strategy, to gain issue awareness and often, systemic, familial behavioral change.

We do this with our ‘Dare to Compare’ nutritional sessions as well, empowering kids as the ‘teachers’ wherever possible.

In fact, our middle-school is even ‘trying on’ a sustainable fashion show for size…I’ll have to give eco-savvy parent Debbie Barrie this fashion forward site: How Green is Bamboo Fabric and this article, ‘Is Bamboo Clothing Really Green?’ (Debbie is one of our Shaping Youth creative minds/bilingual volunteers who is unbelievably talented in her pursuit of a healthier planet!)

Granted, both those articles are much bolder ‘green’ visions than our subtle ‘did you ever think about…’ materials used, child labor, sustainability issues, but we view ANY green cause/effect morsels as a way for kids to chew on media literacy early, rather than digest the ‘whole enchilada’ verde…

teens4sc.jpgBesides, I’m always learning bit by bit…I’ll sheepishly admit that until I met Judi Shils and heard the Teens for Safe Cosmetics leaders in person at Stacy’s BABIB collective, it never even dawned on me that what we slather ON our bodies is as crucial as what we put IN them.

Kids might say, ‘duh, those products go directly on your skin, into your bloodstream,’ but I was relatively delusional, as I just assumed all those toxins were regulated and nothing sanctioned by the bureaucrats would be harmful, so I went merrily along my clueless way. eep. (must be something in my name, as Amy Brenneman echoes this! 😉

Teens for Safe Cosmetics is back in the news again, so we’ll feature them properly soon, but for now, here are the ‘dirty dozen’ chemicals to avoid (pdf here) and more info via the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, ‘compact’ with industry to remove the worst nasties. Yowza.

Want to find out how green the brand-name products YOU use are?

ewg_skindeep.gifTap into the digital database of Skin Deep cosmetic safety from EWG (Environmental Working Group) to assess your own daily regimen. (warning, it might turn you green!)

That said, I wouldn’t dump out your drawers just yet, it’s all about being aware of what we’re putting on and in our bodies (same thing we tell kids about media consumption!) moderation is key with the green scene equation, too, right?

project-prom.jpgCan’t wait to see what green girls are sprouting for spring, as they’ve brilliantly leveraged media to convey their point, time and again…Whether it’s attracting press with Project Prom in guerilla marketing combat boots and formals (here’s last year’s :60 video clip, and their Youth Noise interview) or expanding into the NYC fashion epi-center to promote their search for the cause…They’ve got the branding game ‘totally wired,’ so maybe they’ll go digital this season?

As for other ways to turn people green…(ahem…)

Would you believe…bottled dog water?


That’s right folks, we’re now making a buck off of bowzer, with ‘FortiFido’ a flavored ‘nutrient water with functional benefits’ for DOGS…No, I couldn’t possibly make this stuff up…It launched a few weeks ago, to the tune of $80K and 18 months’ effort to chase profits in the $40 billion pet industry.

(photo credit above, Ad Age article, ‘Fortified Water Has Gone to the Dogs’)

bottles-storm.JPGMind you, Shaping Youth is counter-marketing the consumption of the human ‘bottled water brigade’ to show the branding motives and eco-fallout from the sensationalized silliness of ‘designer water’…(that’s LA River post-storm, at left)

Still, guess I never thought we’d get to ‘doggie vitamin varietals’ of mint, parsley, and peanut butter flavors, much less joint elixirs for pampered pooches so fast…Yeah, I know, I know, ‘lighten up’…there’s already Frosty Paws ice cream.

This is just another needless ‘novelty’ the way that bottled water is a ‘convenience item’ hawked by the caseload creating waste when we could be teaching kids to “turn green!”

tennis-ball.jpgBut hey, just to show you I’m not a total killjoy, here’s a homemade frozen version of pooch pops to put in Rover’s Kong…no doubt it’ll make kids ‘green with envy’…Meanwhile, time to get my keister off-line and into the green grass with my own retriever who’s tossing tennis balls in my lap…

Have a great, green day! With any luck, we’ll hear some of YOUR stories on how YOU turned people green! Lob them my way…

Related Resources

Children’s Healthy Environment Coalition: Healthy Child, Healthy World

The Green Guide: Environmental health news, tips

Organic Trade Association

Breast Cancer Fund: Eliminating the Environmental Causes of Breast Cancer

Environmental Working Group

Eco-Libris: Every Book Was Once A Tree, How to Turn Parents Green review

Teens for Safe Cosmetics (server down)

What Kids Can Do

EWG Cosmetic Safety Database

How to Turn Your Parents Green Blogspot 

Visual credits:

Green handprint: The Green Parent blogspot

Bamboo visual: Victoria Everman’s blog

More tomorrow in part two of green themes



  1. Hi Amy,

    First visit to your blog and it’s fantastic. Love the doggie water. More seriously, as a parent of a girl soon to be entering pre-teenhood, your info on everything from safe cosmetics to eco-fashion is invaluable. Thanks. People can find out more about How to Turn Your Parents Green via my blog (address above).

    Yours greenly,


  2. Thanks, James…what an honor to have the author himself show up!

    btw…If you have a preteen in the midst, you’ll want to check out the Preteen Alliance site from Lucile Packard Children’s Health Foundation, it’s chock full of data to put in the back of your brain!

    I know you’re in the U.K., but I’ll be speaking at the Preteen Alliance event on May 1st in a joint panel w/Kaiser Permanente and Ann Tipton, a pediatrician/adolescent medicine specialist on kids’ health issues, pertaining to preteens and nutrition/body image stuff, so I’m going to see if they’ll have any sort of archival data that’s retrievable for our global readers…(er…after all…this IS the internet generation!)

    —Thanks for the note, do stop by again soon! (Looks like I’ll be perusing your blog for quite awhile, as there are some great topics here…Best, Amy

  3. pod-Inter Galactic Traveller, the little alien who encourages children to look after the planet and promotes cultural unity, has a new look website. Find out what teenagers worldwide have to say about the state of our planet and what we should be doing to help it, on the climate change page of (A selection of 500+ comments made to date)

    Feel the passion vented by these children for a world in need of help.Please pass on the info to whomever you think it might interest. Thank you.

    Isobel Stewart

    podigt creations
    Tel: 07732 306848

  4. Thanks, Isobel, will check this out and forward along to Eco Child’s Play and the green options team, too!!! 🙂 Amy

  5. Interesting information – Will definitely come back again soon=)

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