What small things can kids do to help save the planet?
1. Spend more time outdoors
The more time we spend outdoors, the more connected we feel to nature and the more we will care.
2. Ride bicycles more.
3. Repair things
Yes, keeping that 20 yr old gas guzzler on the road does more to help the planet than buying the latest new model of Tesla. And while older solar panels are not nearly efficient as new ones, it still takes far fewer resources to keep the old ones working as long as you can.
4. You don't need a new phone AND tablet AND computer every year.
Yes, the new model will be better in some ways. It is even possible that it will be worse in some ways too. But will most people every really be able to tell the difference in processor speed or the quality of the camera. I doubt it. Skip a generation or two and THEN upgrade. You will be helping save resources and are more likely to actually appreciate the new hardware.
5. Plant a garden
It may grow. It may not. Lessons learned either way.
6. Try to replace everything disposable with things that are durable.
Most teens and adults will only be partially successful here. But even if we simply stopped buying bottled water, the change would be noticeable.
7. Being willing to have unpopular opinions. Especially when they are correct.
When you measure as many of the variables as possible, over the entire expected lifespan, nuclear power is one of the cleanest sources of energy ever developed. Yes, it has problems. No, it is not always the right solution. But it is one of the better options.
Another example is heating or supplementing heating with wood stoves in a residential setting. Again, this is not THE solution, and it comes with downsides. But it IS one of the most renewable sources of home heating available.
8. Like nature, Balance in all things.
Try to avoid the extremes in thinking and in action. The closer you get to either end, the weirder things get. Incrementalism is often more successful than forceful revolution.
9. Talk with those who remember.
Every community has elders who lived much closer to nature than we do today. Likewise, there are lots of former revolutionaries amongst us. Plenty of people remember when we lived in fear of the coming ice age and a planet that couldn't support a population of 6 billion. It wasn't that long ago. Open and honest conversations can help today's teens and tomorrow's leaders to have perspective.
Yes, it is important to protect our planet's environment and use its resources wisely. To do otherwise, is simply foolish. But causing great stress and anxiety trying to single handedly change course also seems foolish. Betting against humanity or human ingenuity has never won a game yet. And I'm willing to bet the Age of the Hairless Ape still has a few millenia left.