Kids cartoons for the environmentally minded

In Part Two of our series on Eco Children’s Entertainment, we look at kids cartoons.

Eco Entertainment: Children’s Cartoons

Many cartoons these days devote at least one episode to an environmental message, but have there ever been cartoons devoted to only that message? Here is a list of some of my favourites.

1. Captain Planet and the Planeteers (1990-1996)

An American cartoon developed by Ted Turner, Captain Planet and the Planeteers concerns the efforts of five kids trying to save the Earth from polluters. Each of them have been given a power ring by the goddess Gaia representing one of the elements (earth, wind, fire, water, and heart), and when they combine their powers they summon the Superman-like Captain Planet. It’s somewhat dated given that for the first series one character is from the Soviet Union (this was later changed to Eastern Europe post-collapse), but it also has a star-studded cast and the most overt eco-message on this list.

2. The Smoggies (1988-1991)

A French and Canadian cartoon (which also goes by Stop the Smoggies) that focuses on the Suntots, who live on Coral Island in harmony with nature and use sustainable energy practises. In opposition to them are the Smoggies, a trio of humans living off shore on a polluting steam ship who constantly seek a magic coral said to grant eternal youth. It’s very sweet, and particularly suitable for young children.

3. The Raccoons (1985-1991)

A Canadian cartoon about a raccoon named Bert, who lives with his friends Ralph and Melissa in Evergreen Forest. Their peaceful life is continually threatened by the aardvark Cyril Sneer, an industrialist who tries to destroy the forest so he can make a profit. The environmental message is worked in to the story well.

4. The Wombles (1973-1975 and 1997-1998)

It’s not technically a cartoon, but it’s not live action either. This British stop motion series is based on the books by Elisabeth Beresford, and are about the wombles, fictional burrowing animals who pick up and recycle trash around their home in Wimbledon Common. It was first released in the 1970s and then briefly revived in the 1990s, and is excellent for very small children.

5. Widget, the World Watcher (1990-1991)

An American cartoon about a purple shapeshifting alien named Widget. He travels to Earth where he and a group of human kids try to protect the environment, often from villains reminiscent of the ones on Captain Planet. Despite that similarity, it is very entertaining and unique in its use of sci-fi.

6. Little Flying Bears (1990-1991)

A Croatian and Canadian cartoon, Little Flying Bears centres on (as the title suggests) small bears with wings, who live in an idyllic forest. They defend the forest from pollution, either caused by man or two nasty weasels named Skulk and Sammy. It’s perfect if your child likes cute, cuddly animals.

Many of these can be found on DVD and VHS, or on various websites such as YouTube.

More environmentally themed children’s entertainment

The Trouble With Dragons - Eco BookWhy not check out our list of eco books for children in Kate’s eco series here.

For more information on this author see her profile here +Kate Fathers

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