Rant & Rave

By Warren A. Kaneshiro

Tuesday, May 21, 1996

If you care for the planet, say YES!

YOUTHS will change the world as we know it! Before anyone gets too alarmed, this probably won't take place overnight. But there are youths who could possibly, over time, change the world with their involvement in "Youth for Environmental Sanity."

How did I reach this conclusion? It all started when my channel-surfing paid off and my attention was caught by four teens ingesting a bizarre concoction.

"Yikes!" I blurted. Then with no real surprise, I found those teens to be vegetarians and vegans (people who consume no animal products) devouring a meatless and dairy-free brunch.

I then saw those teens hosting a workshop with their peers in an attempt, through a letter-writing campaign, to remind a certain chemical company of their wrongful production of ozone-depleting CFC's. And at the bottom of those letters they wrote: "P.S. Do not respond unless it is on recycled paper!"

Gee, getting a bit carried away are we? I thought.

The screen went blank and the credits rolled. A phone number flashed on my screen. And I found myself needing to know what all this fuss was about.

I found that YES! is located in Santa Cruz, Calif., and its mission, according to office manager Cynthia Harrington is to "educate, inspire and empower youth to take positive action for the future of life on Earth."

Oh, OK, now I understand. But do we have concerned youths in Hawaii? I wondered.

Harrington said the organization currently has 33 members in Hawaii, and the ranks are growing. She also said the organization visited Hawaii in 1991 and 1993. Shame on me. I didn't even know.

THE organization was founded because Ocean Robbins, one of the founders, saw a lot of young people who were concerned about the state of the planet and who felt they were powerless to do anything about it. He wanted to change that, and he did by starting YES! in 1991, at the age of 16, with Ryan Eliason, then 18.

Since then, the organization has reached more than a half million youths in more than 72 cities. YES! also has an impressive board of advisers including radio and TV personality Casey Casem, Olivia Newton-John and Jesse Jackson.

Rather than taking extreme steps, these youths were simply using their minds and will power to make a difference.

If they had not learned about depletion of the ozone layer or the alarming rate of skin cancer deaths, they would not be able to initiate the letter-writing campaign above.

If they didn't know how rapidly landfills are being packed, they would not have requested a reply from that company be written on recycled paper.

And if they knew nothing about nutrition and the negative impact of raising livestock, they would not be devouring some funky concoction.

So I say "right on!" to those educated and concerned youths who support YES!, especially the local folks. Together, they are making a difference. And they don't act in such contradictory ways suggesting this crusade to save the planet is a mere growing-up phase. Their actions spring from the heart.

Hopefully, educated youths will continue to spread their knowledge, so that others will realize that working to make planet Earth a better place to live is not far-fetched, foolish or extreme.

We local youths should not look the other way when it comes to preservation of the environment simply because we live on such a beautiful rock. We should preserve and protect this paradise that welcomes us now, lest our trash and callousness render it inhospitable later.

C'mon guys, 33 members from Hawaii is such a meager number. Heck, I'll raise it to 34.

Warren A. Kaneshiro is 18-years-old and wants the planet to be around for a while. Contact YES! at (408)459-9344 or by e-mail at yes@cruzio.com. Rant & Rave is a Tuesday Star-Bulletin feature allowing teens and young adults to serve up fresh perspective. Guys and girls speak up by fax at 523-8509; by answering machine at 525-8666; snail mail at P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, HI 96802; or e-mail, features@starbulletin.com.

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