I’ve been spending a lot of time with an exciting new environmental movement, called the Young Green Radicals. Be aware: its members ignore the norms of society in order to pursue their eco-friendly ways.
None of them drive; they walk, run or propel themselves at speed on scooters or bikes. Pedestrians can find them antisocial with their use of the pavement, but they believe the roads are too dangerous to use. They are fascinated by nature, devoting much time to the study of the smaller insect. The group likes to engage with the ‘real world’ and considers rudimentary levels of hygiene more than adequate.
The Young Green Radicals sound rather extreme and alternative, so it may come as a relief to learn that they are not a real group. They in fact reflect a bunch of typical five year olds.
Children of this age make me realise how many of our environmentally unkind ways are imposed by society and convention. If we behaved more like unspoilt kids then we would be more sustainable, closer to wildlife and healthier as well. To help those who want to change I have consulted with a five year old boy to discover his manifesto.
Home management as practiced by a five year old boy
- Don’t flush wees (dramatic water saving).
- If you drop it on the floor, it’s still fine to eat (cutting our outrageous food waste).
- Licking something cleans it (reducing our use of marine harming chemicals).
- Clean a top by rubbing the dirty bits (minimise the use of the washing machine and tumble-drier).
- Don’t have a bath or shower every day (save water and energy).
- Welcome nature and mud into your life and home (reconnect us with the outdoors).
- Scoot don’t drive (avoid the car, it’s boring, polluting and makes us fat).
- Wee alfresco when possible (fertilise and water plants, feel at one with the planet).
- Hide the car keys once per week (you are doing the grown-ups a favour, they need the exercise).
- Eat cereal directly out of the box (avoid the wastage of water and chemicals for washing-up).
Of course, there are plenty of things that young children do that aren’t great for the environment. These include falling for over-packaged plastic tat in the shops and wanting junk food at the supermarket checkout. However, many of their natural instincts, which we spend a lot of time correcting, are for a generally messier, grosser, greener existence.
The planet is their inheritance. We should be showing them how to care for it and how to nurture wildlife. Instead, we are making them mini grown-ups, and quite literally training them in all our polluting ways.
It’s time to vote Young Green Radicals and embrace the toilet talk. We need to create a wild area in our gardens, wash our clothes less and use fewer chemicals. Let the children show us a thing or two about how to run the world.
First published in the EDP and EADT 22nd November 2013