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What’s Big and Green and Airs Over and Over?

Have you ever tried tearing your son’s attention away when he’s deep into Diego? Ever attempted to converse with your daughter when she’s transfixed by Tinker Bell? Nickelodeon and Disney know they’ve got a captive audience in today’s tots and tweens. And while we might wish our wee ones spent a little more time out in the green and a little less time sucked into the screen, we are pleased to report that kids’ TV’s two top dogs are doing their part to spread the message of environmental stewardship and resource conservation. And if our rugrats’ recent reminders to shut off lights when we’re not in the room are any indication, they are listening up!

What’s big and green and airs over and over? Why that would be Nickelodeon’s The Big Green Help—the kids’ cable network’s eco campaign, which runs between-show spots and maintains a major Web presence full of games, quizzes and other interactive fun. Nick launched The Big Green Help—a green offshoot of its much-lauded The Big Help public-service campaign—in April 2008, after partnering on a research study with the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. Results of that study revealed that 50% of kids ages 8-14 are not sure how to directly impact environmental issues, but approximately 80% believe they can stop global warming. The study also found 62% of families responding that they regularly drank bottled water, though 45% admitted they did not recycle plastic bottles. Yikes! To rectify issues like these, the Big Green Help tackles topics including energy conservation, recycling and curbing CO2 emissions. Our preschoolers are partial to The Big Green Help animation spots that offer instruction on turning off computers, stereos and lights when leaving a room, and feature an international assemblage of kids encircling a smiling globe with the message, “Let’s care for the Earth, the friend we adore.” Amen to that.

Plus, we appreciate The Big Green Guide’s online parenting resources, with handy suggestions for teaching our tots about nature, recycling and energy conservation. Our CPU-savvy slightly older ones dig The Big Green Help’s Web site, where Nick celebs like SpongeBob and the Naked Brothers Band star in interactive games like Dirty Bubble Busters and the all-too-addictive Polar Bear Bounce. Kids can also pledge to reduce their carbon footprint by turning off lights and powering down the computer when not in use (208 pounds of CO2/year), reminding parents to turn off the car when waiting to pick ’em up from school (657 pounds/year), and recycling the family paper, plastic, aluminum and glass each week (a whopping 1,803 pounds/year). Yowza! Whatever we think about disaster-prone sea sponges, paranoid ferrets, superhero house pets or pint-size explorers, we’re down with Nick’s use of its hold on our young impressionables to promote the greater green good.

Who knew a teeny, tiny pixie could wield so much eco-influence on mini minds? The Department of Energy, that’s who. That’s why the DOE, along with the Advertising Council, hooked up with Disney on the What’s Your Excuse? campaign. Campaign PSAs featuring Tinker Bell (the new and so-called improved version, not the exceedingly vain, non-speaking, jealous wee spitfire of old) and her pixie pals originally aired on TV last year and can now be found at www.energy.gov . Our young Tink fans squeal with delight at the sight of the playful pixies setting Pixie Hollow aglow with energy-saving lights, and plugging into an assembly-line-style power strip. And once we’re on the site, we can surf a whole spectrum of energy-related tips, facts and games together. We like the simple drawings and kid-friendly explanations of big-four renewal energy resources: solar, wind, geothermal and biomass. And we love to link from the site to the California Energy Commission’s award-winning Energy Quest site for games, stories, movies and cool contests. So, yeah, we old-schoolers may still prefer the voluptuous, volatile 1953 Tinker Bell—once rumored to have been based on Marilyn Monroe, dontcha know?—but we love that Tink ’08 is a great green inspiration for the little pixie in all of us.

Natasha Garber is the former editor of Los Angeles Family magazine. Currently, she is a freelance contributing editor for Special Events Magazine and a contributor to numerous lifestyle publications across the country, where she covers green events and event planning, sustainable catering and cuisine, fashion and design trends. A mother of two and passionate proponent of eco-conscious family living, Natasha lives, writes, parents, plays and makes fresh, organic, totally delicious baby food (just ask her 6-month-old) in Los Angeles.

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