Friday, October 2, 2009

Tween Pop Stars Inspire A Younger, Greener Generation


As I write these words, there are a zillion empty toilet paper rolls in our garage. I use the qualifier "as I write these words" because the number may reach 8 kazillion by the end of this column.

They are stuffed in shoeboxes and lurking in all corners of the garage. They mingle with empty plastic bottles, egg cartons and bottle caps.

Now and then, when the Mighty Junk Collector is asleep, my wife and I will try to thin the ranks, quietly putting trash in trash cans and burying recyclables deep under old newspapers.

This requires precise strategy. Throw away too much, and the Mighty Junk Collector immediately senses an atmospheric imbalance and bellows with indignation; throw away too little, and the effort doesn't make a dent.

You see, our garage is a shelter for abandoned trash rescued from the landfill. My 10-year-old daughter, Katie, is the shelter's executive director.

She is the Fred Sanford of Chalet Schlenker, and I have the Jonas Brothers to thank.

Yet while my wife and I bemoan the collections, we know her efforts are admirable. Thanks in large part to PSAs from her favorite Disney Channel stars, Katie has gone green in a major way.

This means our daughter - whose disposable diapers we once changed - is now picking through our trash and condemning our waste selections. Cardboard and cartons are extricated from trash cans and relocated.

They will be used for crafts and new inventions, such as the lava lamp-baton thing (very cool, actually) and the always-useful bottle-cap tower. Katie discussed another pending invention with me, although I do not understand her blueprints.

We are exceptionally proud of her. Prior to Katie going green, my wife and I considered ourselves proper stewards of the environment. We recycle, taking the goods to the recycling center after we can no longer find the van in our garage. We unplug appliances, and no longer burn tires and paint thinner in our backyard.

However, we never have put buckets in a shower and water the plants after they are full.

Katie takes this very seriously.

And say what you will about Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana and Disney Channel's other cash cows who absorb 75 percent of my annual income, but they are the ones who prompted Katie to reduce our landfill contributions. The pop stars anchor the Friends for Change movement, which is powered by the anthem/music video "Send It On" starring Cyrus, the JoBros and Selena Gomez,

As many parents know, these stars performing together is the equivalent of a Tween Live Aid. Disney's marketing machine is a powerful force in the marketplace, but this effort truly is making a difference. The song is a hot seller, with sales benefitting environmental associations.

It has changed the way we do things, with Katie leading the charge. This is significant; my wife and I can't get Katie out of bed in the morning, yet the Jonas Brothers can get her to save the world.

I can live with that.

If only the Jonas Brothers would clean our garage.

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