Petitions + Young People = Sustainable Change

14 Sep 2012

“It’s a different world out there.”  That’s what we parents keep telling ourselves. Email, facebook, google, everything is so different now.  When we were young, if you wanted to know something, you either asked an adult or looked it up in the dictionary or the encyclopedia.  Young people had to accept the way things were.  Social activism was for college students and adults. Sure, the Brady Bunch featured an episode of kids fighting city hall but did that ever really happen?  Of course not.

I’ve read two different stories recently of young people working to effect change, in part, using the internet.  In the first, a young Chicagoan took on the oil and plastic industries to fight legislation (which the Governor vetoed) to push recycling of single use plastic bags.  Had it been enacted, it would have required each bag manufacturer to: (1) register with the State before selling their bags in Illinois; (2)  print its name on the plastic bags it manufactures; (3) develop a plan to support collection and recycling of plastic  bags and film. Instead, this young woman wanted an outright ban, as she felt the bill’s goals were too modest and would have prevented municipalities from banning the bags outright.

In the second, a group of California elementary students petitioned Crayola to create a “take-back” program for their used markers, rather than seeing them disposed of.  While Crayola, the biggest marker manufacturer has not yet done so, one of their competitors, Dixon Ticonderoga, has – apparently seeing the marketing opportunity that this presents.

The common denominator?  It’s a different world – one where even 1st graders can make an out-sized difference.

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