Raising My (Almost) Teen to Be Green

Leslie Garrett by Leslie Garrett | May 21st, 2010 | 5 Comments
topic: Family Health, Green Living, Healthy Eating

Teen Going GreenMy daughter loves anything that comes individually wrapped. She adores new clothes. She’s mad about electronics. And has never met a nail polish she doesn’t crave.

She takes 40-minute showers. Hot.

She groans at the prospect of riding her bike to school. Begs to go to the mall with her friends.

And she just can’t see the point in taking her lunch in a reusable container when — duh! — someone invented plastic bags that zip.

Is it possible, I wonder in my more optimistic moments, to green my (almost) teen?

The first decade of her life was spent, mostly, outdoors, ingesting organic food and propelling herself via her own two feet.

She listened intently when I explained why she couldn’t use the body wash she received as a gift, though the notion of “hormone-disrupting chemicals” might have been baffling. She was enthusiastic at climate-change rallies. A dedicated tree-planter. A hard-working canvasser for eco-minded charities.

The green generation gap

But … that was then. Those halcyon days when I was the reigning queen of green, and she my dutiful princess. Now, there seems to be a coup abrew. Led by someone wearing headphones and a Justin Bieber tee.

These days, my speaking engagements on environmental issues are proclaimed “bo-ring.” My meals, homemade from farm-fresh ingredients, are frequently “disgusting.”

My preferred mode of transport, my tandem bike with 7-year-old little sis perched on the seat, inspires her to pedal madly to ensure she’s geographically removed enough to deny association.

But though I may be wearing lime-colored glasses, I occasionally glimpse green in my (almost) teen.

While she insists on taking the lunch she makes herself to school in Ziplocs, she brings them home so I can wash them for reuse. Sure she trades her homemade organic hummus for Cheetos, but at least someone’s kid is eating well.

She reads ingredient labels on personal care products with the curiosity and knowledge of a bio-chemistry student.

She refuses to eat fast food, citing mostly animal rights issues.

And though she insists she won’t wear “someone else’s clothes,” she nonetheless shops consignment with me … and often picks out one or two items that don’t look “used.”

So, though her shade might not be the same green as mine, it’s in the same family.


  1. I laughed at this article. I have two boys, 4 yrs and 8 mos. Good luck to us on teaching them to be green… I guess we start now for sure!
    ” Sure she trades her homemade organic hummus for Cheetos, but at least someone’s kid is eating well.” <—– Funny!!!

    Mitch | May 25th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  2. I found this post to be very relevant to my own family! As much as we try to instill the discipline in our children that it takes to be green, we will constantly meet a hard wall of rejection until our kids are past the phase that any idea that Mommy and Daddy have can’t be “Cool”. So the only thing we can really do in continue to educate them about why Green is Good and hope that some day that they will choose to reduce their carbon footprint on their own terms.

    Having said that, from one Green mother to another, I must say that I do feel that when one of us finds a resource that we feel to be helpful and enlightening… it is our duty to pass it along to friends and members of the community so others may benefit as well. I would like to share with you a site that has made educating myself and my children an easier experience.

    This site has amplitudes of information on current Green issues and lots of articles and tips for making our chosen lifestyle just a little easier. They also have a great online store that was very easy to navigate… and they carry a line of wonderful eco-friendly products at very family affordable products.. I can’t tell you how much money they have saved me! I really think that if you are looking for ways and information about how to easily increase the individual efforts you are making Go Green and reduce your carbon footprint on the Earth, that this is an excellent place for you to start!

    Good Luck in Green!

    Sabrina Ahmed | June 11th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  3. Too funny! And it has hit close to home regarding healthy lunch box tips I have been trying to pass on to my children – followed by philosophical discussions on what constitutes “healthy!” Hopefully it will show up later – but sometimes you just have to control the environment at home and then trust them when they are away from you.

    Wendy | July 20th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  4. Beautiful post! Sharing the same green values with your daughter is great! You both are different in many ways but at least she’s following your steps but with her personality intact.

    Anonymous | March 14th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  5. Wonderful post.
    Children often rebuff teachings from their parents, but it’s just a way to show they are independent. In fact they always listen. Education is important.
    I believe teaching our kids to be more green is essential, because changes in our societies always come from the younger generations. They are the one who can bring progress. Our planet needs them.

    alki | May 29th, 2012 | Comment Permalink

Post a Comment

If you want to show your picture with your comment, go get a gravatar!