Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=100831
Story Retrieval Date: 5/24/2013 11:38:02 AM CST
When environmentalist Jenn Savedge couldn’t find the resources she needed to raise a green family, she went out and did the research herself. Then she wrote a book about it. And then another. And then, finally, a third.
Giving a presentation on her first released book "The Green Parent: A Kid-Friendly Guide to Eco-Friendly Living" at Evanston's Green Living Festival on Oct. 4, Savedge, 36, shared her findings with fellow families.
This mom from Luray,Va. and former National Park Service ranger shows that being a wife and a full-time mom of a 2 1/2-year-old and a 5 1/2-year-old didn't stop her from being a budding journalist, writer and author. In fact, it's what got her to put pen to paper and start inspiring others.
Medill Reports: How many books have you written?
Jenn Savedge: I have one book that came out this spring, “The Green Parent.” I have a book coming out next spring called “The Green Teen,” and a book coming out next fall, “The Green Baby.” To which my 6-year-old daughter says, "Why do you always have to write about green? Why can’t you write about pink?"
MR: What made you want to write books about this topic?
JS: Well, I’ve really been interested in the environment for a long time. I was a National Park ranger; I have a master’s in environmental science. But when I had kids, it really was something different for me. Never before had I felt like it was really difficult to juggle.
I was always able to walk everywhere or have an organic garden. But when you’re trying to raise a family and you’re just really tired, you don’t have a lot of time and you don’t have a lot of money. It’s hard to fit it all in.
But yet, it’s probably more important than ever to fill it all in. So I went looking for information, and when I couldn’t find it myself, I decided to write. I have a Web site, The Green Parent.com and the book, “The Green Parent.”
MR: And did you find that there was a large community or an audience that was looking for this type of topic?
JS: Yes. People just seemed so excited. And my Web site, in particular, just gets really flooded with emails and comments from parents who have a lot of ideas and who have been doing this for a while, but maybe thought that they were the only ones. Or, they’ve been really wanting to do stuff like this before, but there’s just so many different things.
And as your child goes through each stage, when you’re kids are first coming along, it’s all about: are you going to breastfeed or are you going to use disposable or cloth diapers? But it just never stops. There’s fundraising at schools and how the schools are cleaned and whether or not there’s any environmental education in the school. And then it just goes on with camp and colleges. There’s always, at each stage, a new issue. There are some parents who have tackled it already and some who are dying to know of better ways to do it. So, yeah, I really think that there are lots of parents out there who want to do things differently.
MR: You mentioned that kids and teens are the most excited [group] about recycling and about being green. How do you encourage teens who don’t really care or are just apathetic?
JS: That is hard because, you know what? To try to encourage teens that are apathetic to do anything is pretty much going to backfire. But what I’ve found—and that’s why I wrote "The Green Teen"—when I was researching “The Green Parent,” I was talking to a lot of teenagers who are doing these things.
They’re starting recycling programs in their schools. Like this one girl who is 13, is raising a lot of money in her community to build fresh water wells in India. She’s doing it. She’s making these things happen. And yet, when I started to look for Web sites and books about going green as a teenager, all I kept finding was books telling you, "Well, get your parents to do this," or "Ask your parents to buy organic food," or whatever. And I thought, gosh, teens are in charge of a lot. They’re in charge of their own money. They’re doing a lot of these things and it’s a shame that there isn’t a book out there that—it’s great to say 'Start a recycling program'—but, for instance, in my town, where my school district is the lowest funded school district in all of Virginia, you can’t just walk in and say "I’d like to start a recycling program," because there’s no money for it.
But what you can do is do a green fundraiser to get a little bit of seed money to get it started and write a proposal. And it’s not hard to write a really good proposal that says, "This is why our school should be recycling, this is where we’re going to send the recycling, this is how much it’s going to cost, this is the fundraiser we’re going to use to fund it and we’d like to start it." And that kind of proposal won’t get rejected. Whereas, if you just walk in and say, "‘I’d like to recycle," it doesn’t get taken seriously. So that’s why I wrote “The Green Teen,” to not only talk to the teenagers who are doing it and who want to do it, but to show them exactly how to do it so that people will listen.
So as far as answering your question about apathetic teens, I think that that type of attitude just catches on. When you tell a teen, "Oh, you should recycle," yeah, you know that’s interesting, nice, whatever. But when you give a teenager that kind of information and that kind of power over their future, I think that makes a big difference.