What’s big and green and airs over and over? Eco campaigns get a boost, and we’re leaving the TV on, for once.



Have you ever tried tearing your son’s attention away when he’s deep
into Diego? Ever attempted to converse with your daughter when she’s
transfixed by Tinker Bell? Nickelodeon and Disney know they’ve got a
captive audience in today’s tots and tweens. And while we might wish
our wee ones spent a little more time out in the green and a little
less time sucked into the screen, we are pleased to report that kids’
TV’s two top dogs are doing their part to spread the message of
environmental stewardship and resource conservation. And if our
rugrats’ recent reminders to shut off lights when we’re not in the room
are any indication, they are listening up!

What’s big and green and airs over and over? Why that would be Nickelodeon’s
The Big Green Help—the kids’ cable network’s eco campaign, which runs
between-show spots and maintains a major Web presence full of games,
quizzes and other interactive fun. Nick launched The Big Green Help—a
green offshoot of its much-lauded The Big Help public-service
campaign—in April 2008, after partnering on a research study with the
Pew Center on Global Climate Change. Results of that study revealed
that 50% of kids ages 8-14 are not sure how to directly impact
environmental issues, but approximately 80% believe they can stop
global warming. The study also found 62% of families
responding that they regularly drank bottled water, though 45% admitted
they did not recycle plastic bottles. Yikes! To rectify issues like
these, the Big Green Help tackles topics including energy conservation,
recycling and curbing CO2 emissions. Our preschoolers are partial to
The Big Green Help animation spots that offer instruction on turning
off computers, stereos and lights when leaving a room, and feature an
international assemblage of kids encircling a smiling globe with the
message, “Let’s care for the Earth, the friend we adore.” Amen to that.

Plus, we appreciate The Big Green Guide’s online parenting
resources, with handy suggestions for teaching our tots about nature,
recycling and energy conservation. Our CPU-savvy slightly older ones
dig The Big Green Help’s Web site, where Nick celebs like SpongeBob and
the Naked Brothers Band star in interactive games like Dirty Bubble
Busters and the all-too-addictive Polar Bear Bounce. Kids can also
pledge to reduce their carbon footprint by turning off lights and powering down the computer when not in use (208 pounds of CO2/year), reminding parents to turn off the car when waiting to pick ’em up from school
(657 pounds/year), and recycling the family paper, plastic, aluminum
and glass each week (a whopping 1,803 pounds/year). Yowza! Whatever we
think about disaster-prone sea sponges, paranoid ferrets, superhero
house pets or pint-size explorers, we’re down with Nick’s use of its
hold on our young impressionables to promote the greater green good.

Who knew a teeny, tiny pixie could wield so much eco-influence on
mini minds? The Department of Energy, that’s who. That’s why the DOE,
along with the Advertising Council, hooked up with Disney
on the What’s Your Excuse? campaign. Campaign PSAs featuring Tinker
Bell (the new and so-called improved version, not the exceedingly vain,
non-speaking, jealous wee spitfire of old) and her pixie pals
originally aired on TV last year and can now be found at www.energy.gov
. Our young Tink fans squeal with delight at the sight of the playful
pixies setting Pixie Hollow aglow with energy-saving lights, and
plugging into an assembly-line-style power strip. And once we’re on the
site, we can surf a whole spectrum of energy-related tips, facts and
games together. We like the simple drawings and kid-friendly
explanations of big-four renewal energy resources: solar, wind,
geothermal and biomass. And we love to link from the site to the
California Energy Commission’s award-winning Energy Quest site
for games, stories, movies and cool contests. So, yeah, we
old-schoolers may still prefer the voluptuous, volatile 1953 Tinker
Bell—once rumored to have been based on Marilyn Monroe, dontcha
know?—but we love that Tink ’08 is a great green inspiration for the
little pixie in all of us.

Natasha Garber is the former editor of Los Angeles Family magazine.
Currently, she is a freelance contributing editor for Special Events
Magazine and a contributor to numerous lifestyle publications across
the country, where she covers green events and event planning,
sustainable catering and cuisine, fashion
and design trends. A mother of two and passionate proponent of
eco-conscious family living, Natasha lives, writes, parents, plays and
makes fresh, organic, totally delicious baby food (just ask her
6-month-old) in Los Angeles.

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