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Local Students Learn to 'Buy Different' at Environmental Scavenger Hunt

Students Show Their Commitment to Earth and Their Community by Doing What Kids Do: Going to the Mall!

SEATTLE - A diverse group of more than 100 kids from the Puget Sound area combed Northgate Mall today during the inaugural I Buy Different Scavenger Hunt, part of the Buy, Live, Be Different--Make a Difference campaign which challenges young people to make their purchases more environmentally-friendly. Participants formed teams that included students from area middle and high schools, members of regional scout troops and other clubs, and teens from area community centers. During the scavenger hunt, the kids looked for products and stores that promote environmentally and socially responsible practices. A drawing at the end of the scavenger hunt decided prizes such as a trip to the 2004 Environmental Media Awards in Hollywood, a world class DJ for a dance and cash prizes for youth groups.

Robin Brooks of Nathan Hale High School wanted to have fun and support a good cause: "I liked finding out about the environmental and social practices of these stores. It's nice to see that some stores are doing something to help out. This has made me more aware -- now I can share what I learned with other people and spread the word."

To learn about "buying different," students explored some Northgate Mall stores that sell environmentally friendly products, such as organic cotton T-shirts, and stores and companies that promote sustainable policies, like renewable energy. Sponsored by the Center for a New American Dream and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the scavenger hunt was a fun way for kids to connect the dots between their concerns about the environment and how "buying different" can make a difference. Local organizations, Sustainable Seattle and the Sustainable Style Foundation, partnered with WWF and New Dream to bring the I Buy Different Scavenger Hunt to Seattle.

"This event proved once again that kids around Puget Sound are some of the most environmentally savvy in nation. These kids are well aware that spending habits impact the environment and today's event was a way to have fun while driving home the message that they can 'buy different'" said Ray Victurine, executive director of Sustainable Seattle.

Despite the common myth that kids don't care, surveys have resoundingly shown that teens are willing to do their part to help protect the environment. In fact, according to a recent Cone/Roper survey, nearly nine out of ten kids say that they would switch brands to those associated with a good cause. With young people having spent a remarkable $170 billion in 2002, teens can make a huge difference for the environment by simply purchasing environmentally friendly products. For example, if only one out of ten students bought notebooks made of post-consumer recycled paper, a mind-boggling 60,000 trees and 25.5 million gallons of water would be saved.

Buy, Live, Be Different--Make a Difference is a national initiative from WWF and New Dream to help young people learn how they can make a difference by buying differently and move them to action in their personal lives, at school, and in their communities. The program includes an interactive Web site, an educational toolkit, a community action guide, and partnerships with local organizations. More information on the initiative is available at www.ibuydifferent.org.