The state of our environment has been an increasingly hot topic, appearing more and more in media and political debates. As the 2008 elections get closer, it's no doubt an issue on everyone's minds.
Facebook takes up a good deal of most teens' time. What started off as a small online community for college students is now a worldwide community open to people of all ages. The expansion has led to a bounty of advertising opportunities, many coming in the form of applications. One such application, called Greenbook, has an eco-friendly goal in mind. What's the theory behind it? Greenbook indicates that "spending time on Facebook uses energy, which puts CO2 in the air. Greenbook reduces the CO2 in the air by investing in green programs and buying Renewable Energy Credits." Every month, Greenbook uses the funds generated through its sponsorship to purchase carbon reduction credits. Then, depending on the number of Facebook users that add the application to their profiles, Greenbook will then attribute a fraction of that weight to each user. Therefore, the more users that add the application to their profiles, the more CO2 will be reduced. For Facebook users (and Facebook addicts alike), this is a simple way to spread awareness and help the environment. Aside from the obvious irony, it also might be, literally, the least you can do.
STA Travel, an online resource for student travelers, offers another way for young adults to be conscious of the environment, even as they
burn jet fuel and do tequila shooters at wet T-shirt contests. According to the site, STA "wants college students to get out and see the world, but ... be ecologically responsible." In
addition to providing virtual tour guides and travel information, STA Travel's Green Travel section offers some useful information about being environmentally friendly in other countries. From
instructions on eco-friendly packing to suggestions for keeping the places you visit clean, the site has a "Go Green" section for European train travel, Asia, Latin America and North
America. In addition, there is plenty of
information on volunteer programs abroad.
For younger teens, there are also initiatives to learn and care about the environment. Entertainment meets education in the latest collaboration between Chevy and Disney to inspire teens in the Los Angeles area to protect the environment. The official Web site contains sweepstakes, contests, games and other interactive activities to promote environmental awareness. Chevy's "Promise to Live Better" campaign reached out to children, encouraging them to make promises and changes in their daily routines that would be beneficial to the environment. The campaign says little about the oh-so-fuel-efficient Suburban trucks Chevy makes. But hey, they did stage a concert featuring the Jonas Brothers.
In addition to the direct message that media sends to teens, there's been a rise in awareness in consumer trends. Sustainabilty-minded clothing has been a huge movement in recent years, and impressionable teens, who generally want to do good, eat it up. Voltaic Systems is known for their backpacks, messenger bags and other gear that contain built-in solar panels. These lightweight, waterproof solar panels absorb solar energy while out in the sun and produce up to 14.7 watts, which is powerful enough to charge a laptop (with a day of direct sunlight). The bags come fully equipped with standard adaptors for cell phones and other handheld devices, as well as laptop adaptors.
The clothing brand prAna, geared towards outdoor activities, is another eco-friendly brand that features the Natural Power initiative. Launched in 1995, the initiative's goal is "to raise awareness among consumers, partners and industry peers about the benefits of renewable energy." In 2006, the company offset 100 percent of the energy consumption for 250 retail locations across the United States, its corporate offices and the homes of its full-time employees. Nau, another clothing brand that prides itself on the fact that it's "not just another outdoor company," practices sustainable production. They carry this through by using recycled polyester in their products, and buy wind and solar energy.
Through direct campaigns in the mainstream media, teens get involved with ecologically themed ideas. Teens have also played a large role in the buying and spreading of eco-products. Media has a huge impact on teens today, and the interaction between them is no doubt beneficial to the earth.
Tina Wells is CEO of Buzz Marketing Group. (firstname.lastname@example.org)