TAYLOR CARROBIS

The Derryfield School , Manchester, NH

My name is Taylor Carrobis and I am a junior in high school from The Derryfield School. I live in Bedford, New Hampshire, a small town with around 22,000 residents. I originally joined PGC because my Environmental Science teacher, Mr. Dougherty, told us that he would like us to try a couple of the challenges in our free time to learn more about the environment. The first day of the challenge, I decided that I should try doing all three of them to see what the experience would be like. The second day, I completed all three again because I was interested in what my footprint would be, and, eventually, every morning at 9 AM I would be checking the website for the next challenge to light up. I can’t really say at what point I decided that I was going to complete every challenge every day, but around a week in it had become my driving force each day. I would talk to friends about what I had to do that day, tell my parents about the research, and constantly check emails for information. To me, it was fun, and it helped change my life every time a challenge came out.

What five words best describe your PGC experience?

Informative. Life-changing. Inspiring. Memorable Exciting.

Summarize your experience as a PGC participant.

Every single day I would enjoy learning about energy, or soil, or food, and many other subjects that I did not realize even existed. For me, one of the most enjoyable days was learning about the different types of energy because of how odd some of them were. For example, there are some researchers trying to use jellyfish for power. Another example of odd energy use is body heat from people in trains or crowded areas. It showed the many advancements and research that was happening in the field. I also really enjoyed learning about my school and the different environment initiatives Derryfield has. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by how conscious my school was, most notable was their energy use. Derryfield, to my surprise, gets part of their power from the solar energy field nearby and from the solar panels that I did not realize were on top of the auditorium. This aspect of PGC, of the new knowledge that I would not have known, was very important to me throughout the month.

Because of my experience, I turned into a student that was aware of the environmental footprint of her school and started to take action to change it. My experience, as a learner and now a risk taker, has really defined my experience as a Project Green Challenge participant.

What have you learned about yourself over the last 30 days?

I have learned that I am capable of making a change within the community. Before PGC, I thought that it would be impossible for someone like me to make a change, but I have learned that it is possible for me to make gigantic impacts. I would not have interviewed a farmer before PGC, or email the Head of School, or even talk to people about what they were grateful for, but now, I am more confident in my ability as an environmental activist. This lesson, of my own strength as a leader, is the most important aspect I have learned about myself the last 30 days.

TAMSIN STRINGER

Bloomington High School South, Bloomington, IN

My name is Tamsin. I am 16 years old and a junior at Bloomington High School South. My mother is from France and my father is from England, so I am bilingual. I was born in the UK, spent my early childhood in Japan, and have now lived for ten years in Indiana. At school, my favorite AP classes are Environmental Science, Spanish, and History. I play soccer for my high school, and spend time outside practicing everyday. I have played the piano for 10 years and have a passion for music. I do theatre and love the whole atmosphere of putting on a play. Ever since I was little, I have loved being creative, especially in art. I am always coming up with innovative ideas, plans and projects. However, only in the last few years have I developed an overall vision of what I would like to do. Through the school, I joined the club Students Advocating for a Greener Environment (SAGE), and this soon changed my life for the better. As a student leader of SAGE, I have participated in many engaging projects. One highlight was being the first school in the nation to install Pavegen tiles. So when my teacher, Ms. Figolah, talked to us about Project Green Challenge, I was enthusiastic to start my journey from conventional to conscious. I found inspiration in many of these challenges, but especially in learning the truth about fast fashion. I have enjoyed every second of this experience, and I’m already looking at the world in a different way.

What five words best describe your PGC experience?

Inspiration. Motivation. Change. Sustainability. Community.

Summarize your experience as a PGC participant.

Through PGC I found my true passion, and I found myself. Before the month of October I had no idea what USDA organic meant, or about the harmful effects of GMOs, or the millions of micro beads polluting our oceans. I didn’t know how to shop sustainably, eat sustainably, or live sustainably. I had glazed over the fact that 40 million plastic bottles end up in landfills every year, and I was contributing to that waste. I had never heard the words fast fashion or realized the negative impact of this industry. How did I not know about the millions of workers, living poverty stricken lives, with factories crumbling around them who were struggling to find food, water, and shelter while making my clothes? And there I was, window shopping for all the best sales, mad I couldn’t find what I was looking for. These realizations were at the heart of my journey.

What I needed was a complete lifestyle change. And that’s what PGC did for me. I have grown passionate about the environment, and I am hoping to remain engaged in the years to come. Over this past month I have learned so many things, and dug so much deeper into environmental issues than I ever had before. I have reduced my ecological footprint on earth. I have learned how to eat and live more sustainably. I have explored my health and fitness, and I have learned how to shop sustainably. I have learned about the importance of clean water, and the benefits of non GMO, USDA organic foods. I understand a little more about the economic aspects of the environment and the many forms of renewable energy. PGC has inspired and motivated me to become conscious of the world I live in, the people I meet, and the things I do. Every day I was presented with a new opportunity to learn, take action, and change my conventional habits. From day one I put so much time and effort into each challenge to try and become more conscious. I designed drawings, I researched for hours, I met so many new people, and I began to have a different perspective on the world.

These are just some of the milestones on the incredible journey I went through for Project Green Challenge. And for me, the journey does not end this month. This creative experience has opened my eyes to the world around me, and through it I have gained such an enriched definition of what it mean to turn green. I now know more how to live sustainably, be zero waste, shop green, cook homemade, conserve water, dress ethically, choose natural body care products, buy fair trade, and support local farming. But most of all, I can now start educating others with this knowledge, and make my community, and the world, a greener place.

What have you learned about yourself over the past 30 days?

Through PGC,I have discovered so many things about myself. I learned that I am more determined than I realized. It was very hard to balance my SAT preparation and schoolwork with the daily challenges of the project. But my high levels of motivation kept me going.

I also learned that changing the environment doesn’t only have to be about huge changes-It can be as simple as biting into an organic apple, carrying a reusable water bottle, or spreading the word about unfair trade. This means that even I can change the world, because many small changes can make a big difference.

I have also come to realize that my problems are not as bad as I thought when I think about things from a different perspective. I was very moved by the images of factory workers, the same age as me, making the kinds of clothes that I buy.

I learned that I have the capability to create real change in the world.

THE GREEN BAT

International School Almere, Almere, Netherlands

Nathanya Seyed Mehdi

My name is Nathanya Seyed Mehdi. I am a 17-year-old student at The International School Almere in the Netherlands. I am hardworking and I do not give up easily. In my free time, I play volleyball. I enjoy taking pictures and making videos. As well, getting involved in many projects and helping the community around me. One of the most eye opening experiences I have had was as a volunteer in South Africa helping in a community, in a township named Lethabong.

What five words best describe your PGC experience?

Exciting. Inspiring. Motivating. Activating. Eye-opening.

Summarize your experience

Project Green Challenge has been the most inspiring and moving project I have ever participated in. Every single day was a new experience, another way to see the world, another fact that I got to share with my friends and family. Whenever I talk about PGC to anyone, I tell them about all the things I learned. It is incredible, that in one month we learned so much. I discovered and encountered environmental problems in a fun and educational way and expanded my knowledge about the state of the world. I got to make videos, get out of my comfort zone and take action for things that inspired me. It helped me with social skills, time management and getting to know myself better. Because of PGC, I now have a much better view on what I want to do with my life, no matter what my age is I will fight for it and make a change in this world.

What was something you learned

During my PGC journey, facts about farming, personal care products, our virtual water waste shocked me a lot. The most interesting, but shocking fact was one I learned about with the theme fair trade. It was about cacoa farmers on the Ivory Coast. These cocoa farmers were tasting chocolate for the first time! They work hard every day for long hours in the cultivation of cocoa, and have no idea what the beans they harvest and dry are used for. Farmer N’Da Alphonse and his friends now do know this, and they are aware of fair trade farming. But for years, they worked hard for a very low wage.

We take things like chocolate for granted, while many have not even heard of the term ‘chocolate’.

THE WILDCATS

Jericho High School, Jericho, NY

Kristen Saban & Angie Li

My name is Kristen Saban, and I’m a sophomore at Jericho High School in New York. To get to know me, there’s a few facts I want to shrare. The first is that I’m an avid cross country and track runner, and they make up about 25% of my conversations. I’m also a huge nerd when it comes to anything biology or chemistry related, and am heavily considering a career in a STEM field. Finally, I am a very energetic and bubbly person, and I’m not great at containing my excitement or passion for things I love, like the environment! I originally signed up for PGC to try and re-spark a passion that I had for environmentalism when I was younger, but that faded away as I had less and less time to focus on extracurricular activities. I used to be so conscious about what I would eat, how long I showered for, and if my parents left the faucet running for more time than absolutely necessary. I missed having the time to explore that passion, and PGC gave me the perfect excuse to devote all of my time and energy to something I love. Over the past thirty days, I was most inspired by this amazing community that I found myself in. No matter the time of day, my questions would be answered in minutes, and I came to look at my peers as more of a family, building each other up to be the best we could. The overwhelming motivation was what really helped me push through the entire thirty days, and I couldn’t be more thankful!

Angie Li: (Team Member) My name is Angie Li, and I am a sophomore at Jericho High School. Some of my favorite things to do are traveling, drawing, reading, and playing violin. I was born in Manhattan, New York but raised in China, so fun fact: I’m fluent in both English and Chinese! One of the things I’m most dedicated to is playing violin as I’ve been doing so since I was seven. My research teacher told me about this challenge, and when I heard about it, I was very interested. I’ve always been very fond of the environment and conserving it since I was little, so I thought learning more about what actually harms the environment is important – and I was right. Learning about the earth over the past 30 days has not only informed me of everything harmful for our planet; it also gave me a new sense of urgency. We have to stop what we’re doing to the environment, and we need to stop it now.

What five words best describe your PGC experience?

Eye-opening. Passionate. Lively. Mobilizing. Challenging.

Summarize Your Experience

My experience as a participant in PGC has been the most rewarding of my life. A couple years back, I was a full-throttle and self-proclaimed environmentalist. I would scold my parents for leaving the sink running, and I would stay away from non-organic foods, even if I didn’t know what that meant at the age of 8. But over the years, this passion dwindled down to nothing more than an orange ember, yearning to burn once more. I had taken on too many extracurricular activities, and didn’t have time for anything other than homework. I would exclusively eat packaged food, with practically no vegetable or fruit intake. I drank two water bottles per day, and threw away each plastic bottle after use. The environmentalist inside of me was dead, or so it seemed. This year, as a part of my science research course, my teacher briefly mentioned a something called PGC. Upon reading the website information, and talking with past participants, I knew that I couldn’t let this opportunity pass me by. I went around my circle of friends asking if anyone was interested in partnering with me, and luckily, my amazing partner, Angie Li, agreed. She, too had a passion for the environment that she wanted to grow. So we signed up, and the thirty days flew by faster than I expected.

In those thirty days, I grew more passion than I thought was possible, in less time than I thought was possible. I started turning off my parent’s faucets again, and trying to eat organic whenever I could. That small, glowing ember had erupted into a roaring fire, bright enough to shine light on the truth. My love for the environment expanded to incorporate the humanities behind production, and the economics of the world. I made friends, and interacted with students across the globe who had the same desire for green that I did. My mind was clearer than ever before, allowing me to delve deeply into my own consciousness, and discover who I am as a person. I grew closer than ever with my partner, and now we have an unbreakable bond over our experiences. Even with all of these positive things being said, there were still a few negatives. I lost a lot of sleep over my submissions, trying to make them as presentable and stuffed with knowledge as I could. I even lost my passion at one point because I was too over-worked to remember why I was doing all of that work. But all in all, these few low points made the highs seem higher than the Empire State Building. Struggling a little helped me to realize how fortunate I am to be in a position where I can help others, and motivation from my friends and family urged me to keep going. PGC was an unforgettable experience that changed my mindset, and the world.

Please share the most interesting fact learned during PGC

The most interesting fact I learned during PGC was about the government, and how they’re handling (or not handling) the crises we’re facing today. Learning about this shocked me because I thought that government was supposed to be for the people, by the people. But instead, they choose to allow toxic chemicals in our food and people who make our clothing in other countries to be exploited.

What have you learned about yourself in these 30 days?

I learned that even though I may be small, I can have a huge impact on my family, friends, school, community, and the world! I found that work isn’t boring if I’m passionate about it, and I sure am passionate about turning green. I’ve also learned that I might not want to go into a strictly hard-science field, but rather one that allows me to communicate science to the people, and apply my knowledge to educating others.

PROJECT PANDA

Marin School of Environmental Leadership, San Rafael, CA

Nathan Roll, Michael Kessell, Ben Pearson, Lizzi McEligot

My name is Nathan and I attend the Marin School of Environmental Leadership located in San Rafael, California. I understand the importance of environmental sustainability and throughout PGC 2016 I have worked hard to learn, experience, and grow with regards to this knowledge. I am a member of team Project Panda, and with the help of my teammate, Michael Kessell, we did so much for ourselves, our community, and our environment. We originally signed up for PGC as a school project, but it quickly grew into much more than that. Throughout the 30-day challenge, we were inspired to reduce our waste output, energy consumption, and carbon footprint.

What five words would best describe your PGC 2016 experience?

Inspiring, Educational, Eye-opening, Effective, Life-changing

Summarize your experience as a PGC participant.

Being a PGC participant allowed me to further explore my passion for the environment while also learning valuable information about everything ranging from the food we eat to the clothes that we wear. This comprehensive 30-day challenge really covered every aspect about what real environmental sustainability looks like in practice, and why we, as humans, should care about the future of the earth. Throughout PGC 2016, my perception of what it meant to be a responsible citizen of the world shifted dramatically as I learned more about what different labels, ingredients, and manufacturing techniques mean. The group which I was a part of, Project Panda, really devoted an extraordinary amount of effort and time to make sure that we were a success. Being full-time high school students, it was often tough to keep up with the production of high-quality submissions and our high school coursework, but we always found a way to get it done due to our high motivation.

What have you learned about yourself over the past 30 days?

By participating in all of the daily challenges, I acquired knowledge about many different environmental topics and discovered a hidden passion within me that I honestly did not know existed. With this new passion, I decided to make major changes in my life like not eating meat on Mondays, purchasing non-GMO, fair-trade, and organic options when possible, and being a driver of positive environmental change in my community.

THE PHOTOSYMPATHIZERS

Los Alamos High School, Los Alamos, NM

Kevin Parkinson, Zoe Hemez, Sophia Jeffery

Hi! We’re Zoe Hemez, Sophia Jeffrey, and Kevin Parkinson. We all attend Los Alamos High School in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Sophia is a dancer, and Zoe and Kevin are both runners on the Cross Country team. Growing up in a beautiful town at the base of the Jemez Mountains, all three of us have developed an avid love of nature. We are members of our school’s Eco Club, where we heard about Project Green Challenge for the first time. We have loved participating in PGC over the past month, and can’t wait to see how we are going to apply what we have learned in the future.

Kevin (Team Leader)
My name is Kevin Parkinson. I attend Los Alamos High School in Los Alamos, New Mexico. I am a member of the Cross Country team, and I love being outside running and hiking. I feel so fortunate to have grown up in this beautiful mountain town. Our world has always been really important to me, and I’m trying really hard to minimize my impact on it. I am a leader in the school Eco Club, where I heard about Project Green Challenge. I’m so glad that I’ve been able to participate over the past month.

What five words best describe your PGC experience?

Empowering. Eye-opening. Inspiring. Unbelievable. Exciting.

Summarize your experience

We learned so much this month during Project Green Challenge. We worked together every day, splitting the challenges between us so that we could do them around our other extracurriculars. It was really exciting to get an email each morning and look through the resources, and challenges posted (green, greener, and greenest) that taught us about global issues facing the environment. We loved diving into the complexities of these issues and learning how much they affected the environment in our local area and worldwide. For example, in the energy challenge on day 5, we learned about the differing sources of energy available, and which were used by our community. Another great part of PGC was finding solutions to the problems that faced us. In the energy challenge, we wrote an article about our school’s energy usage and sourcing that generated an enormous community response. The body challenge on day 8 involved researching the ingredients in our conventional cosmetic products and determining how dangerous they were for us and discovered organic, non-toxic products that we could use instead. We also learned daily about ways that the world is trying to address the problems we were told about, and how we personally could make a difference. It was so empowering to learn all of this information. We really came to terms with the world as it is, and we have a lot of hope for the future and what we have the power to change.

Project Green Challenge also affected us personally. It was a genuine bonding experience for us as friends. By working together towards a common goal, and trying to integrate valuable practices in our lives, we grew closer and learned more about one another. It was very difficult to complete the challenges for Project Green Challenge, but also very rewarding. Every day, during school and after we would get home from our various activities, we would all work on our project for that day. It amazed us to see how many topics were covered in the daily challenges. We realized that being environmentally conscious is not limited to specific sectors of our lives. As we work to learn about and improve some of the little things that we do every day, it spreads through our lives until all aspects are changed for the better. We also discovered that the more you put into a challenge, the more you get out of it. When we worked hard on our submissions, we truly became immersed in the topics we were applying, and we would learn much more than if we only put forth a half hearted effort. Because of PGC, and with the support of the wonderful people at Turning Green, we have a better idea of what we are capable of, and how we can inspire change on higher levels.

Please share an interesting fact that you learned

It’s hard to narrow it down, but the most interesting information I learned was about the exploitation of workers in third world countries. In a fashion challenge, I researched the origins of my Eddie Bauer running shirt came from, and the information I learned about the manufacturing conditions in was simply appalling. Now that I know people are mistreated in such awful ways, I’ve really changed how I shop for clothes. I will wait until something is completely unwearable before I look for a replacement in a thrift store or from an ethical source.

What have you learned about yourself over the past 30 days?

An old proverb says: “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem”. We have learned that we have been, and still are causes of many of the problems that afflict our planet. We are guilty of many of the environmental crimes we learned about. In developed countries like ours, we sacrifice the environment for our own comfort and convenience, and we ought to learn that harm to the planet is far to great of a cost. However, as we’ve tried to become part of the solution, we have learned that there are so many little things that we can do to help the planet heal. We have learned that so many people around us are willing to give us their attention and support. We have learned that we can work really hard to enact meaningful change, even when our lives are jam-packed and crazy. We have learned that we are capable of amazing things.

We loved participating in Project Green Challenge! It was worth every second. I know that I’ve seen a change in both of my friends and I hope they’ve seen a change in me. We feel so alive and full of hope and energy for the future.

GREENPRINT

Pajaro Valley High School, Watsonville, CA

Maria Perez, Edgar Mora, Paola Arenas

My name is Maria Perez, and I am a senior at Pajaro Valley High School in Watsonville, CA. I was born in Guanajuato Mexico, and came to the United States five years ago. I come from a low-income migrant family of Latinos, and I feel very proud of my roots. I enjoy being in programs where I can collaborate to create change. I am the farm and harvest manager at an organic farm, and a mentor to elementary and middle school students, I teach them about the wetlands. I am truly grateful for my education because back in Mexico I would probably not be able to afford it. I am also grateful for my education because a teacher introduced me to Nancy Faulstich who told me about Project Green Challenge. I signed up because I know that the health of the planet should be a concern to everyone. I also care for my planet and want to change the relationship between humans and the land, so that we learn to live in harmony with the natural world. Throughout the challenge, I was able to move outside my comfort zone and speak up representing mother nature and justice. The most inspiring challenge for me was food because that is essential to our health and well being. I know how it feels not to have enough food and the importance of access to healthy and delicious food. During the challenge I was able to create a sharing table at my school for those who didn’t have enough to eat. I want to be part of positive change, and help my community. When I graduate from high school, I want to study Sustainable Agriculture.

What five words best describe your PGC experience?

Revolutionary. Amazing. Exhausting. Eye-opening. Active leadership.

Summarize your experience as a PGC participant

Learning about food, clothing, and body products have turned me into a person that has gratitude for what we are given. It was very exciting for me when teachers at school would say words of encouragement to our team. That made me happy, and being happy is what I want in my life. This challenge has provided me with happiness and a more sustainable life.

What challenge was most memorable?

The most memorable challenge is when I saw the documentary Made In Bangladesh with my brother and sister. I shared time with my siblings learning about the negative effects of fast fashion, and how many people suffer from bad working conditions in these factories. I liked this challenge because it is one of the challenges that touched my heart the most, and because I saw the influence it had in my siblings.

I have learned that I am a person that cares for what is going on in the world, and hope to take part in the change. I have learned that I am not too insignificant to create change around me.

TWO TINY GIRLS GO GREEN

University of Idaho, Moscow, ID

Michelle Benedum & Katherine Sussman

Our team was me, Michelle Benedum and my teammate, Katherine Sussman. I recently moved to Moscow, Idaho to finish my Bachelor degree at University of Idaho in Conservation Planning and Management. I am originally from a small farming town in Ohio where I studied Wildlife Management. I am hoping to go to grad school and focus on environmental policy analysis here at UI next year. I discovered PGC from our campus representative, Kelly Painter. The biggest inspiration I felt over the course of the month was the amount of support I received from my friends and family and how they weren’t just involved, but have made changes in their own routine. Over the month I have learned so much about environmentally conscious living and hope to continue this journey until the end!

Five Words

Transformative. Awakening. Empowering. Provoking. Limitless.

Summarize your experience

PGC has been both educational and inspirational. I have learned so much about moving toward a more sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyle, but more importantly it showed me what support I have from my friends and family. I have learned about how to convert to a zero waste lifestyle and the importance of buying locally and organic/natural foods. One of the best parts of PGC is that I learned about a wide variety of topics, some of which I wouldn’t have thought to educate myself about without this challenge.

I also was able to learn about what the University of Idaho does for the environment and how much more sustainable it is than my original home, Ohio. I learned that the University of Idaho not only plants pollinator plants but also about the steam plant and the renewable energy is produces for the entire university. It is the small things that truly make a difference in a big way. In Ohio we have to drive our recycling 25 minutes away and sort it ourselves. Because of this, not many people recycle. I am now motivated to change the way people consider the environment back home and share my knowledge. I truly believe the lack of education is the reason we haven’t moved to a completely sustainable environment and PGC has motivated me more than ever to make a change.

What have you learned about yourself?

I have realized that I have always cared about the environment, I just didn’t quite have the education I needed to know what I could do to make a change. I learned that I have the ability to truly make a change for those around me and to my daily routines. I believe knowledge is power and I now know what I can do to adapt my lifestyle to live a more sustainable life.

ERIN CADY

Drake University, Des Moines, IA

I am a sophomore at Drake University in Des Moines, IA, majoring in Environmental Science with minors in both French and Writing. I am originally from Naperville, IL where I live with my mom, dad, brother, and sister. In high school, I was involved with Operation Snowball, a teen-led weekend retreat that taught students about compassion, community, and how to be an effective leader. It is here that I discovered her love for the environment, social justice, and how a changed environmental system can help heal the world. Being involved in environmental work has allowed me to emulate compassion in every dimension: it is a service to people, animals, and the earth itself, which makes it the most versatile type of social justice work available. I joined PGC after seeing a friend participate last year; I was inspired by the change she was making in other people’s lives and the world, and wanted to be a part of the same community. Through PGC, I have learned that environmental justice and social change starts with the individual; no change can be done if people don’t make the decision to consciously choose a lifestyle that directly fights the challenges our world faces. I have been able to build upon my passion for sustainable agriculture and, through PGC, change lifestyle habits to directly reflect my vision of a FLOSN food system. Thanks to Project Green Challenge and Turning Green for being the push I needed to begin to make tangible change and find my confidence as a leader and a change maker.

What five words best describe your PGC experience?

Thought-provoking. Necessary. Challenging. Refreshing. A Reminder.

Summarize your PGC experience

Before PGC, being an individual to me meant being isolated or working by myself, preferring to accomplish tasks on my own because it meant I could get it done when and how I wanted to. But nobody who has ever changed the world has done it alone, and I certainly cannot change my school or my community alone. I need student power and the voices of many to enact change and I need the power of passionate change makers to push me and inspire me to work harder everyday so that change comes quickly and effectively. PGC has allowed me to realize that my voice is just a voice, but with other voices It is an echo; it is as echo that will carry for miles across sea and space, until it reaches the ears of those who can take down corporate giants or make a bill into a law. Because those CEO’s or politicians may seem like a façade of power and money, but they too are just people, just voices. And money cannot make a voice into an echo. I have a voice of change and it is mixing with millions of other voices of change and our echo is growing so loud, that we can no longer be ignored. PGC gave me my voice, my lungs, my air, and my chance. So here goes nothing.

What have you learned about yourself over the course of the challenge?

I have learned that I am much more capable than I have ever given myself credit for. Over the past 30 days, I was able to complete challenges, inspire others, enact change, and change my life all while being a full-time college student. I was busier than I’ve ever been this past month, and a lot of times it could be very difficult, but here I am on the final day of Project Green Challenge…and I did it.

I am capable of doing so many things for myself and for others and this challenge has been tangible proof of that. 30 days ago, I would have never believed I would be able to accomplish what I have in the past month, but I have. I feel more motivated and confident than I have ever felt before, and I am more assured in my career path in Environmental Science now than ever. Changing the world does not stop once PGC ends.

MARIAH CAREY CAMPBELL

Hawai'i Pacific University, Honolulu, Hawaii

They call the wind Mariah, the waves Carey, and the earth Campbell; that’s me Mariah Carey Campbell! I am studying business (hospitality and tourism) at Hawai’i Pacific University, but I am originally from Douglasville, Georgia. My favorite foods are broccoli cheese soup, ranch, and anything my mama cooks. I love to spend my days with my dog, exploring the islands, cooking, and proper beaching…after long hours of studying. My mission is to change the world and make an everlasting difference. My passion is teaching, coaching, and helping others. My core values are authenticity, connectedness, exploration, and love.

What are five words that describe your PGC experience?

Ripple. Discovery. Challenging. Fun. Enlightening.

Summarize your PGC experience

My experience has been life changing and lifestyle altering. It has also been empowering and educating. I began this challenge as a student interested in learning all that I could, up for a challenge, and completely conventional. I have transformed my mind, body, and spirit in a more conscious, sustainable, and environmentally sound way. I learned so much that I was never taught, never knew, and never questioned. This challenge did its job. It changed me and I plan to change the world by enlightening others and building the movement!

What have you learned about yourself over the course of PGC?

I have learned that all things are possible. I have the power to make a difference. I am an Eco Hero. We cannot sit on this newfound knowledge, I have to spread it and share it as often as I can to all that I can. I learned to ask questions, be curious, do not settle for status quo. I always knew this but it was another notice that it is okay to be different and stand alone, as long as you are standing for something you believe in.

SUNGAH KIM

Bloomington High School South, Bloomington, IN

My name is SungAh Kim and I am from 
Bloomington, Indiana. I have grown up in this small 
college town for all of my life and I absolutely love it. I am currently a junior at Bloomington High School
 South and an executive leader of my school’s 
environmental club. My favorite AP environmental
 science teacher, Amanda Figolah, introduced me to
 PGC and since then, I have been
 an avid participant. PGC was 
perfect for me because it gave me the opportunity to 
engage myself in a sustainable lifestyle. As a 
member of my environment club, I strive to educate 
my peers to make conscious decisions, but I found 
that hypocritical of myself to preach what I don’t 
practice. With daily engagement projects to look 
forward to every day, I was able to be fully involved
 as a student and learn what it was really like to
 indulge myself in sustainability. Participating in 
PGC not only gave me a way to 
engage myself in my community and school, but it 
also gave me a way to find out my true 
passion: the environment.

The overall experience of PGC has inspired me to take action for what I believe in and that I am capable of creating change in the world.

What are five words that describe your PGC experience?

Life-altering. Inspirational. Enlightenment. Engaging. Involving.

Summarize your PGC experience.

This challenge was not just a challenge for myself, but for the entire community. I realized that to educate myself would lead to the education of my school and my entire town. I would make use of my newfound knowledge and seek the change that I would have never known I was capable of. For years I had been participating in an environmental club and been involved in small projects like water bottle fillers or renewable energy tiles. I thought that those projects were the most I could do, but PGC proved me wrong. I am capable of more than I can imagine and this project provided me with all the resources to cause the change needed in the world. I learned that all the small actions I can take leave a lasting impact and that there is no such thing as small change. I have developed new habits; taking a cotton napkin, reusable containers/utensils, and water bottle everywhere I go. I learned that our school could be used as an educational platform, but most importantly, I learned that I should take care of myself. This challenge was my outlet into actively engaging myself, something I never really knew was possible. This challenge has impacted my actions and the community in such a grand scale that not even words can describe it. I am a changed individual and a new person because of PGC. I am the new, and undefeatable, SungAh Kim.

What have you learned about yourself?

I am capable of much more than I credit myself. This challenge has forced me to involve myself in stuff that I would have never voluntarily done, such as calling up owners of businesses, asking for interviews, talking to my superintendent about change in our school. I learned that my small actions will not only impact the environment but it will impact my community by setting an example for the rest.

ALICE CHENG

Victoria Park Collegiate Institute, Toronto, Ontario

A sustainability enthusiast and lifelong lover of the nature, I am a proud Canadian who is lucky to call Toronto home. Having just entered the 10th grade and my second year in the IB program at Victoria Park Collegiate Institute, I credit the numerous leadership opportunities provided by the performing arts, student voice, and sustainable living communities for keeping me relatively relaxed and optimistic for the future — though regular yoga and jogging sessions are to thank as well. I am a self-professed political aficionado, environmentalist, and serial entrepreneur, having founded a not-for-profit enterprise, Global Figure, back in March of 2016. When I am not planning the next big initiative for social change or contributing to the improvement of youth volunteer opportunities in the city, I can be found vicariously debating politics or enjoying local food at farmers’ markets. Ideally, both at the same time. This October, I was selected as one of Corporate Knights’ Top 30 Under 30 Sustainability Leaders in Canada and I am currently spearheading youth engagement in TransformTO, a campaign toward a greener Toronto. Having initially come across PGC2016 on Twitter, I was drawn to the social media integration and “hands-on nature” of the program, in addition the sheer diversity and depth of different environmental issues presented. However, I did not complete PGC2016 alone; my vast network of supportive peers over the Internet cannot be discredited. The ability of modern-day social platforms was arguable the most inspiring aspect of the entire program. As I observed my online network gradually taking note and even joining me in this conscious transition, PGC2016 enabled me to reach out to and inspire a much larger audience than ever imaginable!

What are five (ish) words that describe your PGC experience?

Exhilaratingly-engaging. Eye-opening. Life-changing. ‘Ripple’-inducing. Rewarding.

Summarize your PGC experience

What I gained out of this journey wasn’t necessarily the fancy vocabulary, or even the deep-rooted, significant meanings of many of these words. No, what matters is what was produced out of the 30 days. Now, 30 days may not seem like a lot, but that depends on who you ask. 30 days ago, I would have easily dismissed the question, retorting that thirty days is close to nothing, but nowadays, I seem to have a new found perspective on how I view the world around me. I no longer view plastic and petrochemicals as something the human race is indefinitely stuck with, pipelines being the only means to “feed the economic system”. I no longer find myself to appear stylish or fashion forward when I look down at the tag in my shirt, only to realize it was most likely sewn on by an exploited worker in a less economically developed region of the world, using low quality thread on low quality fabric penetrated by toxic chemical dyes. When the reality pains my soul and food is my only remaining escape mechanism, I open the fridge and quickly realize it is not. The apples and oranges are laden with poisonous residues, of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. I question, I inquire, I listen, and I research. This, is how PGC2016 managed to transform and redefine the way I think of life, because there truly is a difference between “life” and actually “living”.

What have you learned about yourself?

I have always self-identified as “organized chaos”; on the inside, I knew exactly where I was going and what to prioritize in order to arrive at my dream destination sooner, but externally, I was a mess of clashing interests and ideas which just happened to flood everywhere at the most unpredictable times, since I never bothered to write anything down. You would then be correct in assuming my first few PGC challenges were difficult, to say the least. They required at least some basic skills in time management, one of my greatest weaknesses. I was at a loss at how some people could manage to submit decent content in just a day’s time; knowing myself, I surely would’ve wanted a minimum of triple that duration to complete a GREEN level challenge. In fact, that is somewhat close to what I ended up doing on the first day. Graphic editing software and patience ready, I embarked on what resulted in a four hour long work session for a single prompt, “state two things you’ve learned through taking the PGC self-evaluation and elaborate on two steps to take in order to reduce my human footprint.” Thirty days later since then, I cannot say that I have come full circle just yet, but it’s surely getting much closer than before having, on average, three medium to large-scale tasks I was required to complete everyday. Experiences like that have managed to push and stretch my limits. These days, you are actually able to find me with a schedule in hand!

ASHLEY ZEBRO

Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY

I am a senior Theatre Arts major at Stony Brook University. My hobbies include playing guitar, singing, and hiking. My goal in life is create as many meaningful connections with other people as possible and to leave the earth a little better than when I got here. The essence of being human to me rooted in our interpersonal connections. In this structured, tamed modern world, I feel I want to retreat from all of the injustice. Project Green Challenge has helped motivate me to be a part of the revolution, instead of being blissfully detached from it. I initially signed up because it was being advertised by a campus representative and I thought “Maybe I will win a challenge and save some money on soap.” What I got, in addition to that, was the confidence to speak my mind and the power to implement positive change. I feel most inspired by zero waste initiatives, hemp, and viewing myself as an Eco Hero. When I need to find new clothing and other goods, I am strictly finding them secondhand. I can not bear to contribute to the fast fashion industry and accumulate textile waste. Hemp invigorates my soul because it feels like the perfect solution to many problems. And the most powerful element of it all, was realizing myself as powerful! I can be my own Eco Hero and channel energy that will initiate positive change.

What five words best describe your PGC experience?

Riveting. Empowering. Emotional. Motivating. Fun.

Summarize your PGC journey.

My PGC experience has been a riveting, rocking roller coaster. I went through bursts of energy to learn and create, developed interpersonal skills to better my activism, and built confidence in the power and importance of my voice. After the first few challenges, I learned what it meant to dig deep into the topics and align myself with PGC values. It feels really good to dedicate yourself to something, especially for your own educational benefit.

It feels like my responsibility to protect people from the corruption in this world. It might be something as small as carrying a reusable bag. But if not to contribute one less bag in a landfill, it can inspire a conversation with a bystander or even remind other people to eliminate their plastic bag usage. I feel empowered with the principles of the ripple effect. I see the positivity permeating through the social network. I pledged to myself to never, ever buy from fast fashion companies ever again. I even had an awesome thrift store haul this weekend, where I got my Halloween costume.

PGC removes ego from the equation. It makes me relinquish an aesthetic I was trying to maintain for myself, when there are so many pressing issues I should combat. I grew so confident over the last 30 days in ways that I did not understand were possible until I underwent the transformation. I am grateful to learn what I have about sustainability and being green.

HANNAH WATTS

University of Florida at Gainesville, Gainesville, FL

My name is Hannah Watts and I am a 19-year-old accounting student at the University of Florida. I am originally from New York and I moved to Florida when I was 6 and have lived here since. I was originally inspired to start Project Green Challenge because I have been vegan for a few months now and was interested in learning more ways that I could help the environment. I had no idea how much I would learn and grow in a month, and now I am so much more passionate about our environment. Some of the challenges that impacted me the most were organic, body products, fair trade, non-GMO, fashion, and hemp. Everything I have learned in the past month has changed my everyday life!

What five words best describe your PGC experience?

Inspiring. Motivating. Emotional. Life-Changing. Educational.

Summarize your PGC journey.

My PGC experience is something that I will never forget. I started the challenge not thinking much of it, and I was just expecting to learn more about the environment. I was not very educated on most of the subjects beforehand. Some of them I had heard of but did not know much about, and others I did not even know existed. I had no idea how much I would grow and how much my life would change in one month. I feel so much more educated about a variety of topics, and I don’t think I would have learned about some of them without PGC. PGC also provided many resources that allowed me to learn about the subjects in a variety of ways, and I think this really enhanced the experience. I learned about new topics that I am now very passionate about, as well as our environment as a whole. Once I learned, I could not stop thinking about each theme and different ways that I could help. My lifestyle has changed and I have become significantly more sustainable. I am buying organic, local, non-GMO foods, I have significantly lowered my waste, I am more conscious about my energy consumption, I am in the process of switching all of my bathroom and cleaning products to sustainable ones, I have been taking more time for myself, I have been looking into fair trade companies, I have completely cut out fast fashion, and I am looking into ways to advocate even more for hemp.

What have you learned about yourself?

I have learned that I had a lot to learn about the environment. I was uneducated on many of the subjects that I learned about during PGC. I learned something new from every day, and I am now filled with so much more knowledge. I also learned that I am a lot more passionate about the environment than I thought I was. Once I learned new information about unsustainable practices, I was unable to move backwards, only forwards. I learned a lot from talking with other PGC participants and discussing what I learned with my friends and family. I learned that I am willing to change my lifestyle for the environment, and that I am so much happier living a sustainable lifestyle.

EMILY KLOTZ

State University of New York College at Cortland, Cortland, NY

My name is Emily. I am from Sparrow Bush, New York. I am currently a Junior at the State University of New York College at Cortland, more popularly know as SUNY Cortland. I have a dual major in Early Childhood and Childhood Education with a concentration in Humanities and a minor in Social Philosophy. That is a long fancy way to say that my dream is to become a teacher and inspire young minds. I dream of using my leadership position to create sustainable habits in the next generation because a world without people to take care of it will not be a world for very long. I signed up for Project Green Challenge in a leap of faith and courage. I thought … I don’t know where this journey will bring me but I excited to start the process, jump in full force, and see where I will end up! Well here I am at the end and I am left in awe… in awe of what I learned, what I used to be, and where I am now. The most inspiring part of PGC is not only all I learned, but what I became: empowered. I jumped out of my comfort zone with enthusiasm and did so many things that I would have never dreamed of doing before. I used to think of myself as leading an eco-friendly lifestyle, just doing what I could. Now I see myself as an empowered global citizen who can change the world, one small step at a time. PGC was only the beginning of my journey, I will not stop here.

What five words best describe your PGC experience?

Empowering. Inspiring. Balance. Revelation. Action.

Summarize Your Experience

This past October has been anything but an ordinary month. On October 1, I was a college student with a passion for saving the planet. On October 30, I am now an empowered college student with a passion to save the planet with the tools and support to be a real change-maker. I have become aware of many aspects of sustainability that I simply didn’t know about before, i.e. how many popular body care products are harmful to our bodies, the horrors of fast fashion that show us the need for fair trade industry, and the (illegal!) amazing wonder plant that is industrial hemp, to name a few. But, this knowledge was only a surface level change in me. The real change came through empowerment. Through sharing my experience with others, I learned I had a voice, a voice worth speaking up with. I began to think “why not me?” I could be the person to change the world. I realized that I can not leave the task of saving our Earth for another person or another day! Change needs to happen now because there is no time to waste. The climate science predictions are grim, but we can do something about it, more importantly I can do something about it RIGHT NOW. If not me, then who will stand up and take charge? If not now, then when will it ever happen? I feel the power that I have to make change and influence those around me and even the world. I simply have to use my voice to tell people about what matters most to me.

What have you learned about yourself over the last 30 days?

I am so excited that I am finally making the changes in my life to align myself with my beliefs, all thanks to PGC! I am empowered. My journey has only begun and I will not let this momentum stop. I will become a leader in sustainability. One thing I learned is that I already am a leader. Throughout October I have transformed into a leader, an advocate, a change-maker, and simply, a better human being. I cannot go back to where I was, and I would not want to. I will keep moving forward, despite challenges I might face and despite the fact that most of my moving will be against the grain. Changemakers don’t go with the flow, after all. Changemakers lead the pack and this may involve convincing them to go a different direction than what they are used to. The deeply ingrained habits of people are the hardest to change, but persistence, drive, and passion are necessary. I feel I now have all the necessary ingredients for a recipe for change. The last step is to set a goal and never stop. After PGC, I am ready to do just that, and I know I can succeed. I am no longer fearful to traverse it though, because I know that I have an amazing support system that not only includes my family and friends but my PGC family who will support me, guide me, and join me on this journey to conscious living. After all, we began together so our paths will surely cross as we walk together.

What challenge most inspired you?

The subject that I have become the most passionate about over the course of PGC is zero waste. I cannot justify trashing the planet when it is simply for human convenience. I have realized I cannot make excuses for myself anymore. I have the power to change the world by changing myself first. My ideal world is one where zero-waste is implemented everywhere! I must first take on the zero-waste lifestyle and show people how rewarding and simple it is.

ERIKA WILSON

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA

My name is Erika Wilson and I am a second year Environmental Engineering major at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Originally, I am from a small town in central Massachusetts where I grew up playing in the hills and seasons of New England. I have always loved the outdoors, nature, and adventure sports and in high school, I started to channel this into a passion for sustainability. I heard about Project Green Challenge four years ago when a student at my high school participated in PGC and made it to the finals. I was immensely inspired and PGC has been in the back of my mind ever since. This year, I was ready to try it out myself and the experience has been more than I could have ever hoped for. The knowledge, empowerment, friendships, growth, and connections that have come out of participating in Project Green Challenge have been numerous and wonderful. It has inspired me to be in a position where I feel confident in what I’m passionate about and comfortable impacting and influencing others through this.

What five words best describe your PGC experience?

Transformative. Awakening. Empowering. Provoking. Limitless.

Summarize your PGC journey.

Project Green Challenge has been one of the most amazing, educational, moving, inspiring, and challenging experiences of my life. It pushed me to question how much I knew about sustainability and environmentalism and encouraged me to do something about the issues within these topics. As I began PGC, I definitely considered myself “green” and environmentally friendly but I wasn’t necessarily pushing my boundaries to make great changes in my lifestyle or in my community. Project Green Challenge gave me new confidence and encouragement that wasn’t there before to really put myself out there, get involved, and make change happen. I explored my campus’ resources more and learned a lot about what Cal Poly is doing right now regarding sustainability. It made me realize that I may be only one person, but I truly do have the power to make big changes.

Throughout the course of the 30 days, I saw myself grow not only in my conscious knowledge of sustainability but also as a leader. I gained so many skills during the challenge that have helped me become a louder voice amongst my peers, and the daily challenges have touched so many people’s lives aside from my own. I can’t help but smile and think of how many people now know of PGC and have learned at least one new thing about one of the themes because of my daily posts each day or from having a conversation with me about it. I was definitely nervous at first and unsure what people would think, but the positive feedback I was getting from those around me really encouraged me to keep it up and put in my best efforts during the whole 30 day challenge. Now, on day 30, it feels almost surreal that I have gotten to spend so much time this past month learning about what I love and being able to apply it to make real impacts on the world. I feel so empowered and grateful to have been given this opportunity to be amongst other young people wanting to make change, and make this planet we live on more sustainable and healthy!

What have you learned about yourself?

Over the past 30 days, I have learned that I am more than just a college student. I am more than just a 19 year old. I have seen a side of myself emerge that I hadn’t seen before. I have grown into an environmental activist instead of just a bystander. I am no longer fearful of putting myself out there and going after the changes I want to see happen. After these 30 days, I have learned that I am capable of so much more than I ever knew. I adapted to more conscious habits that I have used not only as an individual but have shared collectively with others. I’ve learned to become a leader and role model in sustainability. While there is always so many more ways for improvement, I am now empowered and more confident in my ability to inspire others through simple, tangible actions. I have gained group communication skills after joining an environmental coalition at my school and leading discussions on certain sustainability topics. For example, after my non-GMO study break, I led a discussion with some guiding questions and I felt more comfortable than I do giving most school presentations and projects. Overall, PGC has given me skills to be more confident in myself, more proud of my passions, and has driven me to truly want to spend the rest of my life positively impacting the lives of those around me, my communities, the environment, and the World!