Since 1971, the President of the United States has worked with the Environmental Protection Agency on the President’s Environmental Youth Award, which “promotes awareness of…[the US’s] natural resources and encourages positive community involvement” on issues such as air, water, land and ecology. For more about the program, check out this page.
The young people that win these awards have exciting and innovating ideas about how to protect the Earth and promote important environmental principles like conservation. This short article discusses 6 different lessons we can all learn from these young environmental heroes. Check out the article to learn more about the different winning projects that teach us each of these lessons.
• “Start Small and Spread the Word.” That means that you have the power to make a difference, even if it is only in your family or circle of friends! Think about the environmental issues you care most about and pick one or two you can work on; then tell people about what you are doing and help others learn about and take action on these issues!
• “Explore Alternatives.” Just because something is a particular way, does not mean it has to stay that way, especially if it is degrading the environment. We can all explore eco-friendly alternatives to everyday problems, such as choosing to walk or ride a bike instead of using a fossil fuel-heavy car for your transport, or growing some of your own vegetables instead of buying ones that are shipped from far distances or use harmful chemicals to grow. The changes you can make depend on a lot of factors, but be creative!
• “Reuse Everything.” This one is pretty straight forward: try and find a different use for something instead of throwing it away! Whether that is giving it to someone, fixing something so you can use it again, recycling, or turning it into something entirely new, we can all make a greater effort to give the things we use a longer life.
• “Exercise Your Green Thumb.” Get out there and garden! Whether it is plants or vegetables, working in the earth and watching things grow from your own hard work and the majesty of nature is an incredible way to connect with the outdoors! And if you are able to grow some of your own food, you know you are eating healthily and more environmentally friendly.
• “Education is Powerful.” Teaching people about environmental issues is a key part of getting them involved! As we learn about environmental issues, we are better able to come up with solutions. From every day education in classrooms, to after-school programs, to online lectures, books, and informative rallies, there are a variety of ways for all of us to learn more.
• “Reduce Consumption.” This can be an especially difficult concept, especially in cultures where having more and more things in your life is considered extremely important. Buying less and using what you have until you can use it no more help to reduce the amount of things produced, packaged and thrown away. Reusing, repurposing and recycling definitely come into play here!