365 for kids
Anybody however young, however old can do things that will help make a better world. It’s never too soon to get started. You will be doing your bit to address the problems around you, you will learn as you go along and become more and more enthusiastic about your potential for creating change, and you will understand the issues and be able to influence all those around you.
If you are a young person, get started today on changing the world. If you are a parent or a teacher or a mentor, there are lots of fun things that you could suggest for your children to do.
Here are 21 great ideas for what young people can do to make a better world:
1. Cut out using plastic bags. Plastic bags litter the environment and are a waste of resources. They are also a menace to wildlife and fish. Every person uses thousands each year. But it’s quite easy for all of us to stop doing this. Get hold of a really a really nicely-designed heavy-duty cloth bag (which could be made out of canvas, hessian, linen, cotton, etc.) and take with you whenever you go shopping – whether you are going to the local shops or the weekly outing to the supermarket. Some of the big supermarkets are now starting to sell "Bags for Life” which can be used again and again until they wear out when they will be replaced free of charge.
2. Give up canned beverages. Brew your own cola. This is fun thing to do, and it will also demonstrate that ordinary people can beat the big multinational beverage companies at their own game by producing something which is equally good at a fraction of the price… and which you can then try to make better and better. The Cola website has an “Open Source” recipe for making the syrup and the soda which you can use as your starting point.
3. Or make your own home-made lemonade, which will be thirst-quenching and full of Vitamin C. Alex’s Lemonade Stall is a fundraising idea for raising money for children’s leukaemia, which commemorates a brave American girl called Alex who sadly died. Download the recipe, make your own lemonade, and sell it at a school fair to raise money for your favourite cause. www.alexslemonade.com
4. Organise a kid’s version of a “Hunger Banquet” for your next party. This is another great fundraising idea. In today’s world, 15% of the population is well fed, 25% are just about adequately fed, and 60% do not get enough). Oxfam America has developed a great idea for holding a fundraising party at home, which you can adapt for children’s parties. If there are 20 children, three will get great food to eat – cakes, ice creams, drinks, sweets, party crackers, the works. Five will get cheese and tomato sandwiches, biscuits and juice – which is nutritious, but not so much fun. The remaining 12 will just sit on the floor and be given bread and water. This will mirror the state of hunger in the world. With all the money you save, make a donation to Oxfam (or some other international development agency) and ask that the money be spent to help children in need. Tell the your guests what you have done. But you must make sure that everyone has a good time. www.hungerbanquet.org
5. Give “stockingfillas” as party presents or birthday presents. Many of us have almost everything we really need. But there are people in the world who have nothing, where a small gift can make a world of difference. So help out by giving people “Good Gifts’ instead of a more usual present (which may be something that nobody really wants). Put these Good Gifts in birthday bags and give them out as party going-home presents. They are not expensive, and all of them will do a lot of good. Find out more from: www.goodgifts.org
Here are some of the Good Gift Stockingfillas that you can buy:
• If they get soaked in the monsoon rains, children and grown ups in India are at risk of catching serious chills – which can lead to bronchitis and pneumonia. Give them an umbrella, produced by a women’s group in South India. £3.
• In India, an eye test and spectacles for an elderly person can completely transform their life. £3.
•. In the developing world school may be free, but children have to provide their own notebooks. If they can’t afford a notebook, they can’t go to school. Just £8 will help ensure that a child gets to school.
• Warm jumpers can be given to those living on the street which will protect them against catching a winter chill. When they are bought from handknitters who are also poor people, your good gift will create twice the impact. £5 pays for one woolly jumper.
• Provide a going home kit for new babies and their mums – this will include a soft blanket in which to wrap a new baby, which is a gentle substitute for an old rag. £4.
• Buy coconut trees to help a poor subsistence farmer. This will give them an income for life. 6 trees costs just £9.
• School dinners. You can’t study if you’re hungry. So provide 30 school dinners for a class in an African school, which will cost just £9. It will be delicious !
• Provide basic lighting for a hut in an African village – a paraffin lamp costs just £3. Imagine the difference this will make. Children can do their homework, get an education and perhaps a qualification which will help them move forward in life.
• Plastic water cans and buckets make water carrying easier. Lighten the heavy burden, which falls especially on women and girls who may have to walk miles each day just to fetch their daily water. £8.
6. Click on the Rainforest site. Each time you do this, you will save one square metre of forest. This is just one tiny step to protecting the earth’s ecosystem and stopping global warming. But at least it’s something, it’s really easy to do, and it does have an impact. Then once you feel you are making a small difference, you might then want to do a lot more. Tell your children that doing this actually does preserve the rainforest, and that it costs absolutely nothing. The site’s sponsor pays enough for every visitor to the site to purchase this quite small amount of land. If you click 365 times a year (you are only allowed to do it once a day), then you will save 365 square metres a year. www.therainforestsite.com
7. Search the internet and generate money for charity. These sites will all provide a stream of income for charities when you use them to do your internet searches. Enter a word or words for your search, then click on the “Search the Web” icon. Then the results of your search will come up, but you will also be raising money for charity at the same time. It’s as simple way of redistributing advertising revenue so that some goes to good causes. Here are some search services you can use:
www.goodsearch.com which uses a Yahoo search engine, and you can give to a charity or school of your choice
http://jikolp.com which uses Google, and has a monthly charity –in December 2006 this was Greenpeace’s “Stop Climate Change”
www.goodtree.com which combines results from Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask, and has a list of causes and charities that you can choose from:
8. Save energy on your journey to school: walk, cycle, or car share; or if you have to drive (or be driven), use a smaller car. How you get to school will depend on your own circumstances – how far you have to travel, the state of the roads, issues of child safety, etc. But however you get there, try to cut down on carbon dioxide emissions and get some exercise.
9. Stop the 4x4s. Here’s another idea for discouraging people from driving around in monster cars. If you’ve got the guts to do this, you can download fake parking tickets which you can then put under the windshield wipers of 4x4s. These tickets give drivers a shock when they return to their car; but they also give them information about the environmental consequences of driving a gas-guzzling automobiles, Get your parking tickets from the shop at: www.stopurban4x4s.org.uk
10. Switch to low energy lightbulbs. If you live in the USA, then join the WalMart campaign to get America switched to low energy. In the UK, just buy low energy long-life lightbulbs at an electricals shop or a supermarket or by mail order. They will save you money as well as reducing your carbon footprint. See how many bulbs you can change in your house. And while you are about it, why not switch to Green Electricity too. In the UK, go to www.uswitch.com
11. Stick 'em up. Remember to switch off when the lights are not in use. Develop your own switch-it-off campaign. Make your own stickers (and get your kids to do this too), and then stick them up by light switches, on computer monitors, on TV remotes reminding people to switch off after use. Write to your local newspaper to tell them about what you are doing. Ask them to publicise this as a way of encouraging others. Or you can buy “Switch them off” stickers from www.provokateur.com
12. Give it forward today. Join eighth-grader Alex Southmayd in his GIFT campaign, which encourages people of all ages to perform random acts of kindness to others. If you do something for somebody else, they may go on and do the same for another person. Your act of kindness might be the start of a whole chain of acts of kindness… and this is something that really can change the world. Find out more from: www.giveitforwardtoday.org
13. Play music. Have fun. Organise a party and play your own music for peace. Remember Daniel Pearl (who was a well-respected young journalist who was beheaded by Al Qaeda), and hold your music day in the second week of October when the Daniel Pearl Foundation invites people from all over the world to play music for peace. Invite all your friends, and log your event on to the Music Days website. www.musicdays.org
14. Join the Sloth Club. “Slow is beautiful”. Many young people would like to live a sloth… getting up late, lazing around, looking cuddly. Now you can. You can join the Sloth Club. You will commit to living more slowly, and at the same time you will be doing something to save the rainforest. The Sloth Club, which was a Japanese-Australian initiative, seems to moving very slowly, and the website does not get you a quick response. But it’s a great idea, and especially great for anyone who doesn’t really want to get up in the morning! www.slothclub.org
15. Use recycled toilet paper. Save the environment one sheet at a time! A funky US brand is Shitbegone, which is said to be “Toilet Soft”: www.shitbegone.com
16. Make your own “Morning Choices” for a better world. A group of young Canadians have developed some simple actions for young people to undertake each morning as they get up and start their day, which will help create a fairer more sustainable world. Choosing ethical, sweat-free and organic clothing, drinking fair trade tea or coffee, using less water… there are lots of simple ways in which you can make a real difference. Do as many as you can. Go to www.otesha.ca and be inspired. They even produce a great handbook which you can download free from their website or order a hard copy from them.
17. Give up bottled water. Bottled water, still and sparkling, is a $25 billion a year industry worldwide. Yet it would cost just about that to bring clean water to every human being on the planet. One of the Millennium Development Goals is to reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water by 2015. If you give up bottled water and donate what you save to a water project, it will help. It will also reduce the number of lorries trundling around bringing water from source to bottling plant, from bottling plant to distribution centre to supermarket and from supermarket to your home… when you can just switch on the tap. Tap water is safe, and taste tests show again and again that people can’t tell the difference between tap water and bottled water. Or you can get hold of a “Neau” bottle which contains “No” water, with all profits going to water projects: www.neau.nl
18. Recycle your old toys and games. When you’ve finished with them, find some one else who would like have them. You can do this by donating them to some sort of children’s institution or hospital. Or by taking them around to your local charity shop. Or by selling them on eBay, and donating the proceeds to something worthwhile (you’ll be surprised at how much people are prepared to pay). Or just by handing them on for another family to use. And whilst you are about it, recycle your old mobile phone and printer ink cartridges. There are lots of services that do this and which raise money for charity. Just type “Recycle mobile phones” or “Recycle printer cartridges” into Google, and see what comes up.
19. Cross a book. You’ve just read the last Harry Potter, and really enjoyed it. Now you have a choice. Do you leave it on your bookshelf to gather dust? Or do you pass it on to someone else to read and enjoy? If you want to pass it on, here’s an interesting way of doing it. Go to www.bookcrossing.com, register a book, download a label to paste into the inside front cover, and eave the book lying around for someone else to pick up and read. And when they have finished, they can pass it on to someone else. You can trace your book as it passes from reader to reader on the BookCrossing website.
20. Save your spare change. Every night empty your pockets. Put your small change in a box. When the box is full (it will fill up more quickly than you think), take it to the bank and change it into pound notes or dollar bills. The next step is to donate it to some good cause. Rather than a big well-known charity, why not lend it to someone in Africa or Asia who is trying to start their own micro-business as a way of getting themselves out of poverty. You don’t know anybody? Well, here’s a website which will put you in touch. And when the person you have helped has been successful, they will repay their loan, which you can either have back or use to invest in somebody else. Find a micro-entrepreneur to invest in at www.kiva.org
21. Pledge to do something about global warming. Scientists and politicians now tell us that global warming is the most important issue facing the planet. They are telling us that if we don’t do anything in the next 10 years, we’ll all fry. If you’re not convinced, read or watch Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”. You need to do two things. First calculate your carbon footprint. Then pledge to reduce your carbon emissions, perhaps by a manageable ton a year to start with.
Calculate at www.bestfootforward.com/carbonlife.htm
Pledge at: www.lickglobalwarming.org/pledge.cfm