We haven't even finished carving our Halloween pumpkins and already major retailers are redirecting our attention towards holiday consumerism. Toys "R" Us just launched their first Christmas shopping ad by driving a wedge between kids and nature.
The ad features a bus load of kids on a "Meet the Trees Foundation" bus getting ready to take a field trip to the forest, when their leader calls psych! He tells the kids they are actually going to Toys "R" Us -- you know, where they can have some real fun. Of course, the kids scream in delight knowing that they are going to get to take home any toy of their choosing. Where's the Toys "R" Us mascot, Geoffrey, at a time like this? The giraffe could surely shed some light on the value of trees and spending time outdoors.
We're already seeing a growing divide between kids and nature -- and it's not because young people don't enjoy getting outdoors. Eighty percent of Americans live in urban areas with limited access to green space. Only 20 percent of kids live within a half-mile of a park or a playground. For many students, field trips are getting fewer and further between because of school budget cuts. And all this time indoors is contributing to our nation's childhood obesity epidemic.
Now more than ever, we need companies who really care about children to stand up and encourage kids and families to get outdoors. There's a ton of research to show that kids who play outdoors are happier and healthier than kids who don't.
And if you want to help reverse the trend that is boxing an entire generation indoors, consider spending some quality family time in nature this holiday season. Need some advice on where to go? Find a Sierra Club Outdoors program near you and get your nature on.