Start ‘em young


Kindness begins at home. So does sustainability. As adults unlearn and learn about environmental and social challenges, this generation of children are learning on a clean slate. Starting with their toys. The Playback Program from Mattel aims to reuse materials from old Mattel toys for new Mattel products. This program supports the company’s goal to achieve 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic materials across all products and packaging by 2030. It’s an easy process. Just print a free shipping label and mail old Mattel toys back to Mattel. They are not alone in the toy industry. Hasbro and Lego have similar programs. The experience is a learning & bonding moment for children and parents in and of itself as the young ones are involved in the decision-making.


On a much larger scale, teenagers in London are helping to plan how community spaces are designed and built. Dinah Bornat is the co-founder of ZCD Architects, and is working with the Mayor of London’s office. She seeks the views of local teenagers and they tell her about how they use the space around them – where they socialise, areas they avoid and their wish list of spaces for use. It is a fresh perspective against traditional assumptions to generate new solutions. 


It’s heartening when organisations piggyback on each other in the best of ways. The UN has 17 SDGs and UNICEF has implemented a 3 As approach to accelerate progress amongst children and young people:

  • raising Awareness
  • taking Action
  • holding decision makers Accountable for progress.


They might have set a record for the World’s Largest Lesson. Co-founded by UNICEF and Project Everyone, the initiative offers a set of free and translated lessons, animations and activities for every classroom. Teachers can use the World’s Largest Lesson to teach students about the SDGs and identify actions they can take to make the goals a reality in their communities.

There is more than one Greta Thunberg to do the right thing if & when we engage them actively. No one is too old to be hopeful or too young to make a difference.