By Rachel M. Anderson, Freelance Writer
(Hudson, Wisc.) - "Reduce, reuse, recycle."
"Give a hoot. Don't pollute."
"Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints."
A lot of people remember these little phrases from their childhood days, but not enough of us are acting on them. According to a recent survey conducted by the market research firm Experian Simmons, 76 percent of the U.S. adult population holds the belief that being environmentally responsible is a personal obligation. Yet, young adults under age 25 are the least likely to say they are obligated to be environmentally responsible.
Jean Clausen of Hudson, Wisc., wants to change that statistic. She recently published Green Wise Kids (Beaver's Pond Press, April 2010, $17.95), a children's book designed to encourage kids to think about the impact they are having on the environment, and to empower them to make a difference.
"My book is focused on the things children, as young as toddler-aged, can do to change the Earth and make it a better place," says Clausen, the book's author and illustrator. "Simple things, like just turning the light off when they leave the room, turning the water off when brushing their teeth, and picking up trash every time they find it on the ground can make a huge difference."
As youngsters journey through the pages of this brightly colored book, their attention will be captured by the poems directed at them, accompanied by interesting facts for parents and teachers that help children learn why their "world saving actions" can make a huge difference.
The text is accompanied by beautiful watercolor paintings that feature children, just like the book's intended readers, taking care of the environment. Among the issues covered on a level even a 3-year-old can understand, ways to save energy at home; why kids should encourage their friends and family to walk or ride bikes whenever possible; and ways that kids can make sure their families do their best to reduce, reuse and recycle.
The author also instructs her young readers on how to make a compost bin their family can use to reduce waste and improve the soil make-up, and steps they can take to preserve our endangered coral reefs. "There are also dozens of interesting facts about the environment that kids will be proud to
know," mentions Clausen. She hopes that one day her book will make it onto the recommended reading list for elementary school students throughout the Midwest and beyond.
Now that the book is out, she's making herself available for speaking engagements at community centers and schools so she can reach as many kids as possible. Earthfest at the Minnesota Zoo was her first major event.
"Our ultimate goal for this book is to help kids understand that they have the power to make a tremendous impact on our planet with the little things they do," says Clausen's husband, Larry.
"Changing the environment doesn't have to be a complicated issue. It's how we live and that's as simple as it goes," adds the Clausen's daughter, Michél Tigan, who currently serves as Program Chair for YMCA Camp St. Croix's Board.
Green Wise Kids is available for purchase at
Clausen's book isn't the only effort aimed at saving the environment with the help of children. Late last year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service launched an online game called "Neighborhood Explorers: Let's Go Outside" to teach kids about the importance of protecting nature and the environment in a fun, interactive way.
Inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama's White House Kitchen Garden, Marriott hotels are now offering a "Growing Up Green" package to families staying at their Washington, D.C.-area hotels. Families that sign up are sent home with a packet of seeds they can use to start their own organic gardens.