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Children's Eco-life, Earth's Green Future

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"Where shall we put the potato?" "Brown!" "Then how about the juice package?" "Yellow!" The question-and-answer between teacher and pupils in a Helsinki classroom went on merrily.

One could be easily confused by the conversation as 15 seven-year-olds, sitting on the floor in a circle, looked curiously at their teacher, who was producing from a plastic bag many mysterious items -- glass can, paper juice package, battery, and a potato.

They were learning to match the items with paper boards of different colors indicating different types of recycling -- white is meant for glass wares; yellow is for paper dumps, rotten potatos should go to brown bins for organic waste and red awaits problematic items like batteries.

Around the globe, children are looking to a greener future.

For a six-grader girl, Gao Ge, in China's northeastern city Shenyang, low-carbon is a lifestyle.

"I collect water I've used to wash my face and brush my teeth to flush the toilet every morning," said Gao, who was also leading a 24-member team in her school to promote the environment-friendly way of living.

Her team has successfully organized a theme painting show and visited households to help them calculate their daily carbon emissions, and gave advice on energy saving.

Gao was born to a middle-class family, and her mother, a successful business woman, is capable of providing her with a very comfortable life. However, the girl insists on walking instead of being driven to school, even though it can be 20 degrees Celsius below zero in the snowy winter.

Under her influence, her mother has learned to save water used in laundry and in cleaning vegetables and rice for other purposes, and their house is lit by energy-saving bulbs.

In addition, Gao always makes sure lights are turned off when she leaves a room and power plugs for the television, computer and other electric devices are pulled out before she goes to sleep.

Through the joint efforts, the family's annual carbon discharge is down by one ton in 2008 from a total of eight tons in the previous year, and their monthly electricity bill has been cut 75 percent to a mere US$6-7.

"I've learned to listen to the river," said Shannon Babb, after she won in 2006 the top award of the Intel Science Talent Search, the competition for US high school scientists sometimes billed as the junior Nobel prize.

Babb, now a college student studying Watershed Sciences at UtahState University, has chosen environment, or water resources, protection as her life career.

From May to October, 2005, 17-year-old Babb analyzed water quality at seven sites from high ground to low along the Spanish Fork River.

She discovered that the river's chemical content exceeded Utah Department of Environmental Quality guidelines for cold-water fisheries, largely due to human activity.

In her conclusion, she calls for restructuring the drainage system and teaching inhabitants of the area to dispose properly of their household chemicals, instead of dumping them down storm drains, which lead to the river.

For Babb, the six-month experience was adventurous. The girl and her father came across a mountain lion when taking samples along the river. "I was so scared at first, but she seemed more scared than us," she giggled.

They also braved snow storms. "Snow was piling up to our necks," said Babb. Her father had once fallen into the frozen river.

All these episodes, which now appear happy and amusing in retrospect, still bear witness to all the hardships she encountered in the six months. For Babb, it revealed the most charming side of the Great Nature, to which she was willing to dedicate all her life.

(Xinhua News Agency November 15, 2009)

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