Re: Waste Prevention and Teenagers

Katharine Bennett (
Tue, 26 Jan 1999 07:39:31 -0700

Whenever I speak to a group of teens about recycling and waste reduction
the subject always comes around to consumer responsibility and the media.
Teenagers are outraged when they realize that on Madison Ave. they're
nothing more than a demographic population, and that there's a mountain of
products out there targeted to kids and teens.
I take photographs of the candy aisles at grocery stores and, most
especially, at convenience stores. I even purchased a couple of items,
broke them down into components (packaging vs product, recyclable vs
non-recyclable). We then weigh the product and weigh the packaging. You can
also do water displacement to determine volume of the packaging. What comes
out at the end of these sessions is that the majority of the cost of the
stupid little piece of bubble gum in the great big CD jewel box pays for
the package, which the consumer is now responsible to dispose.
I am a firm believer in empowering kids to make informed choices. The more
they know the better stewards they'll be. I've even had elementary school
kids grasp the concept of how stores place over-packaged candy products
down low and right at the check out stand, to encourage impulsive buying by
kids, often purchased by stressed out parents, anxious to get the shopping
ordeal over with. When kids realize how they're buying habits are being
manipulated, they begin the trek towards responsible consumerism.

Kat Bennett