The Power of One

I’ve been careful about leaving the news on while the kids are home. With the school shooting and other tragedies, it’s just been too much for them to see.

So imagine my surprise last night when a piece I thought was rather benign on the pollution issues in Beijing caused tears and hysterics in my living room.

My 9-year old son could not believe what he was seeing. He wanted to know how the earth could be so dirty and polluted and how we, as humans, could let this happen.

Is it the cars?
The factories?
All the things they make, like my Nerf guns?
Why don’t they care?
Why can’t they stop it?
What if that happens here in Los Angeles?
What about our country?
Why do businesses care more about money than fixing this?

And the tears were streaming. And I did my best to calm him down and tell him many people were trying to do things, but every country was different. And every country had different rules. And even in our country people are fighting those rules.

He yelled "I love being a geek!" after opening most of his toys

He thinks those of you fighting the rules are horrible people. He thinks anyone against EPA regulations aimed at helping the earth are good and true and just and he does not care if that means some people don’t have a job because they at least will be able to breathe and drink clean water. He tells me OTHER jobs can be created with new inventions that keep the planet CLEAN. He does not care if that means he does not get a certain toy, he no longer needs it or cares.

The images haunted him all day and night and he would periodically stop his video game to ask me how many people might get sick from that smog. How many people might die. How plants or trees might help.

Then at bedtime, as I tucked him in…he began to softly cry again. He didn’t think there was anything a 9-year old boy could do.

I told him he was wrong.

And now, dear friends, I want to show him he’s wrong.

Help me find things a 9-year old boy can do to help – from planting trees to raising money to joining Greenpeace to… whatever.

Show my son he can make a difference. Show him the power of one and how it then multiplies and creates a movement.

I KNOW there are others like him…others that are devastated to see pollution take over what he calls ‘those mountains that are so so beautiful I can’t even see them’ and ‘all those trees that they keep cutting down instead of letting grow big and tall…it makes me so mad Mom I just want to hit my pillow.’

Show him. Show him instead of hitting his pillow he can DO SOMETHING and it WILL MATTER.

Help me show him – leave a comment with your ideas. Please.

I know he can do something amazing with his passion and his talent.


  1. I asked my 11 year old daughter. This was her answer….

    1. Get some of your friends (and an adult) and pick up trash, it keeps the other kids and animals safe to play.

    2. Raise money to plant flowers and trees, they make oxygen and clean the air.

    She also said just because you are a ‘little kid’ (like her) doesn’t mean you can’t help change people’s minds in your own generation growing up and make YOUR generation the one to make an improvement.

  2. Do you recycle? Put him in charge of sorting your family’s recyclables. Does his school recycle? Maybe he could work on getting his school to recycle papers in the classrooms and plastics in the cafeteria. You could have him help you find paper products for your family that are made with recycled materials. Have you swapped out all of your light bulbs for CFL bulbs? Have him help you with that project, and encourage his friends to do the same.

  3. Is his school “green”? He could get together a group of kids and bring ideas to the school — solar panels, LED lights, a school garden or farm (even if just in a classroom.) We have green elementary schools here in Mass and I can ask my friends what other initiatives they have.

  4. It was the work of a couple students who got the entire district to participate in a recycling program. So everyone can make a difference!

    I like the ideas listed above too! Planting flowers/trees, picking up trash, recycling, etc.

    We even get our 4 year old to help with recycling. She understands that it helps keep the earth cleaner and puts out less trash if we recycle certain things.

    Good luck! And I think your son is amazing for even wanting to think about this!

  5. Loving Girl says:

    It may not be the most popular answer, but cutting meat and dairy from a diet go a long way to helping cut green house gasses and being far more earth friendly. Eating organic and locally grown foods are another major way to help. I could go on endlessly on the myriad of reasons how your diet can help the world, but I can quickly sum some main points up. The vast majority of food grown in our country goes to livestock. That’s a lot of clean water being used for crops, pesticides poisoning soil, monocropping (fields full of one crop) agriculture which promotes rapid soil erosion, and so on–which all goes to livestock. Then the livestock themselves create a LOT of waste, which pollutes the environment. Even in slaughter, there is a lot of waste. There is a lot of methane produced from livestock, which greatly impacts greenhouse gasses. And more, if you care to research. 🙂

    Another thing you can do, is buy things from thrift stores instead of new. This cuts down on all the extra packaging, and doesn’t put more strain on the environment for new products.

    Another idea is thinking about the water you use as a precious resource, and treating it as such. Take shorter shower, turn the water off when you’re shampooing your hair or brushing your teeth, and things like that.

    Those are three, fairly easy, things you can do. 🙂

  6. Have him do 1 thing a week that helps the environment and post it somewhere, here or his own tab or facebook page or something social media related and that week other people can do the same thing to help the environment or share what they did.

    Picking up trash when he sees it on the ground, or turning off the light when he leaves a room is doing his part, but making a difference is reminding people to do the same. If Jack picked up 10 pieces of trash a week, and I did the same because this week was trash pick up week , Jack was the reason that 20 pieces of trash made it to the garbage can. Or Jack recycles for a week and I commit to do the same. Even if its 10 people that do it (which it wont be) you can still tell him that he helped pick up 100 pieces of trash.

  7. Make him the electricity police at your home. I think a 9-year-old might love to be the one watchfully looking after lights left on, unattended TVs etc.

  8. In charge of electricity use is great! Recycling at school, at home are great. I know you’re eating better, but we even have Capri sun recycling thru terra cycle at ours. How about growing veggies? Or planting trees? Picking up trash is good, too!

    Remind him that each little thing he does makes a difference and when combined with ours doing the same, it can be amazing!

  9. Roots and Shoots is an awesome initiative begun by Jane Goodall that is all about empowering kids to act on issues they care about. I think it’d be a great resource for your wonderful son who wants to make a real difference.

  10. Firstly ,your son is lucky to have you as a mother – it sounds like he is the kind of child who internalizes so, so much and needs a mama with a lot of love and passion to guide that empathy. Secondly, my dad raised us to act locally when it came to environtmental issues – so we did a lot of activities in our town to help the environment…volunteering with recycling programs, recycling at home – and in our house we work to have the most sustainable life we can, which certainly isn’t always easy.

  11. I swear we are raising the same kid several states apart.

    Does his school have a food garden? Could he convince them to start one?

  12. His school not only recycles and composts but also has several plots in the community garden. We’ve helped with all of these things. Getting him to connect that even these small things help is hard. He wants to SEE that smog gone immediately after he plants that seed. Welcome to 2013 and the land of instant gratification of our kids, I guess.

    The good news is if he came up with MORE ideas I’m sure his school would be open to all of them. They are awesome like that.

  13. Bookmarking this. Because awesome. Anyone asks me how to raise one’s children right in this lunatic world, why, I’ve got the URL right here. Splendid.

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