So there's this blue-and-green ball we all dwell on. It's called Earth. It's ours to save and protect, this planet.
And you don't need to be old enough to vote to kick into high planet-saving gear.
Bring on Jenn Savedge, a passionate environmentalist, former park ranger and author most recently of "The Green Teen: The Eco-Friendly Teen's Guide to Saving the Planet" (New Society Publishers, $14.95).
Her little green book is bursting with do-it-now ideas and smart charts and lists that make for a compelling game plan to crank up the green in your lives.
She's great at boiling big concepts into doable bits. Here are her "Three Big Fives" to get you greening.
"Teens more than ever need to grab the reins and run with it," says Savedge, who lives just outside the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. She says the kids who impress her the most aren't the ones who simply wave the green banner, but those who've thought it through and "can offer up a solid argument, one that makes adults stop and pay attention."
1. Ditch the car: Ride your bike, walk or take public transit whenever possible. When you have to drive, carpool with friends.
2. Buy less stuff: Use the 24-hour rule to distinguish between things you really need and things that you just want because they look cool in the store.
3. Eat less meat: Go veggie one or more times a week; vegetarian diets use fewer resources than meat-based diets.
4. Make a waste-free lunch: Steer clear of disposables. Pack your lunch with reusable drink bottles, napkins and utensils.
5. Nix the vampires: Don't let your gadgets (computers, game consoles, cell phones, MP3 players, etc.) suck more energy than they need. Use power-saving features to cut recharge times and unplug cords when not in use.
1. Greenwashing: Labels can be misleading. Don't buy something (especially if you don't need it) just because it's labeled as green. Look for certified-green labels (organic, fair-trade, recycled content, etc.) before buying.
2. Vending machines: Vending machines are usually the antithesis of going green. Filled with pre-packaged snacks and drinks made from dubious ingredients, these machines are bad for your wallet, your health and the planet.
3. Keeping up with Queen Bees: Resist the temptation to keep up with the other kids. Overconsumption wreaks havoc on the planet and your wallet. Don't rush out and buy the latest jeans or video game just because all the other kids have it. And take comfort in the knowledge that you're living green.
4. Smoking: Hard to believe, but kids are still smoking. (The American Lung Association website reports that 20 percent of high school students said they have had a cigarette in the last 30 days.) Smoking wastes your money, trashes the environment and ends your life. Period.
5. Multitasking: You don't have to look too hard to spot a kid texting friends on a cell, chatting on a cordless phone, sending Facebook messages, watching TV and playing a video game ... all at the same time! It's fine to multitask, as long as you're not plugged in or using batteries to do it.
Teens Turning Green: teensturninggreen.org
Humane Teen: humaneteen.org
Do Something: dosomething.org
Green Teens: greenteensusa.org
Mother Nature Network: mnn.com
And, for more information from Savedge, check out her site at thegreenparent.com.