Teenagers try to be green

Living as a green teenager takes a lot of energy

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Everywhere we go nowadays, we are bombarded by encouragement to be more environmentally aware. You would think that the green revolution had been around for a long enough time for people to realise that all the fuel they're consuming driving to the recycling centre is not going to be offset by the couple of bottles they're dumping into the recycling bins. The teenager is often the most affected, seeing how we are reminded, every day in school, of the importance of practising sustainability and bequeathing to future generations a planet unspoilt by human activity. See? There's no way I could have made that up on my own, or remembered words such as "bequeath" or "sustainability" if they hadn't been drummed into my head regularly for years and years.

I had joined the Eco Club at school a year ago, being younger and less experienced than I am now, to make my report look better. We sat about for a bit discussing Kyoto protocols, then took an oath - yes an oath - but refused to sign anything in blood, as suggested by an eager member. The oath was to pledge to promote the idea of eco-friendliness whenever we could. The next day, as we sat colouring in and cutting up bits of paper, which are the most important skills you need for geography classes, a fellow member of the Eco Club turned to the class and ordered that they put their waste paper in the recycling bins instead of the rubbish bin. Never the lead-taker, I watched apprehensively as he delved into a mini lecture about the importance of preserving the Earth's carbon sinks. The resulting stares he received were enough to put me off showing my feelings for the Earth too blatantly, if at all.

I know all the talk about why learning about this at an early age is so important. Don't take care of the planet, and the planet gets choked up by carbon dioxide. The planet gets choked up by carbon dioxide, and we can't survive. We can't survive, so we die. I get all that. I just don't think there's the need for global warming to feature as part of the specification in at least three different subjects, every year, since Year 7. And now I'm in Year 11, so that's saying something.

When I was a po-faced 13-year-old, my wasteful family had, in my narrowed eyes, a shockingly large carbon footprint, so I took it upon myself to stop them from wreaking destruction upon our world. I am ashamed to admit it, but I did take teachers reasonably seriously in those dark days. Door-slamming episodes were rife in my house, only it was because I felt it was disgusting that the bathroom lights had been left on for well over an hour when no one was using it. Under my stern surveillance, ordinary, perfectly functioning light bulbs were replaced with energy saving ones that were too dim for reading. I made sure I purchased special reading lamps, so I wouldn't have to squint while flipping through magazines when it was dark. I didn't care enough about the planet to bear the discomfort of the faint glow of the energy-saving bulbs; it was just the action of installing them that counted. A teenager who cares about the welfare of anything other than himself (which does not cover teenagers who want to save the planet so it doesn't get choked up by carbon dioxide and they die) is an oxymoron.

Once when I was at my friend Jenna's house, I put forward the admirable proposition that we double glaze the windows - one of the solutions we have been writing down in all our essays on global warming and alternative energy and so on. Jenna managed to procure a screwdriver, and we drilled a hole into the wall. We had been hoping to come to the gap in the wall, which numerous websites and textbooks assure us exists, so we would be able to fill the gap with sand or cotton, thus providing an extra layer of insulation and minimising heat loss (I don't even know if double glazing works for AC units too). Anyway, all we succeeded in doing was cause some white paint to flake off and a handful of rubble to dislodge itself from the wall. Jenna's dad came in before we could get any further, and I made myself scarce. It was an uncomfortable moment. To tell the truth, I'm a bit tired of all this eco-warrior stuff.

* The writer, is a 15-year-old student in Dubai