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THE LAZY ENVIRONMENTALIST: Lazy Teenager

(L to R) Surfer Holly Beck and Josh Dorfman in The Lazy Surfer.

THE LAZY ENVIRONMENTALIST airs Tuesdays at 8PM E/P.

In Lazy Teenager, I’m trying to green Gabe, the “cool” kid at his high school who is class president and who a lot of other students respect and look up to. Like many teenagers, Gabe is into looking stylish, attracting the ladies, and communicating constantly through at least a couple of electronic devices. I know that if I can green what’s important to him and get him to make more environmentally responsible choices, then through him I can influence his peer group to go green as well.

The power of kids to serve as role models for great causes and influence others is awesome. I’ve personally been involved with a couple of organizations that do an amazing job of supporting kids who want to make a difference in the world. But not only do they support them, they also honor them and help spread awareness of their achievements.

For two years, I was a judge of DoSomething.org’s annual awards. The awards are accompanied by significant cash prizes and go to children who are creating social change, who have started sustainable (in the sense that their project is designed to succeed even when they are no longer overseeing it) and amazingly impactful projects. Part of the role of being a judge was to spend a day in New York City interviewing the finalists. When you meet kids who are establishing health care clinics in refugee camps in the West Bank or are developing programs to help those with autism improve their communication and social skills, become awed and inspired by the power within each of us to change the world. Being a judge was also an incredibly humbling experience and each time reminded of how much more I could personally be doing to change the world.

I’ve also been a judge for the Brower Youth Awards, which each year honors six kids who are taking outstanding steps to preserve the environment. Its recent honorees include a 21-year old who successfully organized on a massive scale to save nearly one million acres of trees in the Boreal forest, and a 16-year old who is spearheading an initiative to help rural Indian farmers grow their own sources of biofuel instead of relying upon fossil fuels to power their equipment.

It’s often said that our children will be the ones who ultimately solve our most pressing environmental and social challenges. Personally, I think that’s total hogwash and a complete cop-out. It’s up to all of us to do something. What’s so inspiring about seeing kids do so much is that through their deeds they remind us that the most important attribute needed for affecting change – more important than lots of funding or a great education – is personal will. When we are truly committed we can achieve surprising results. Too often as adults we lose faith too easily in ourselves. These kids are a shining reminder to keep the faith.

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