Brooke Crouch

Freshman, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

I am an outdoorsy, adventurous girl from the small town of Charlottesville, Virginia. I am a first year at the University of Virginia, potentially double majoring in Global Sustainability and Youth and Social Innovation. My dream is to have a job that allows me to travel the world, combining environmental advocacy with social justice efforts. I love to spend my time traveling, hiking, and camping in national parks across the country. I also adore reading, yoga, and volunteering with youth.

What five words best describe your PGC experience?

Enlightening. Terrifying but Hopeful. Inspiring.

What was most memorable from your PGC experience?

Being presented with the facts, but also being empowered to find solutions to those problems. As a kid, adults often assume you aren’t capable of solving problems on your own. They either patronize you or tell you there are no possible solutions. Being treated as smart enough and motivated enough to find these solutions was very empowered and gave me such a sense of agency! I wish more things, like classes, were like that.  

Think about yourself pre-PGC, just 30 days ago, and then think about who you are today. How have you changed? What have you learned about yourself?

In the end, I am a changed person because of these challenges and PGC as a whole. Prior to project Green Challenge, I wanted to be an elementary school teacher- or at least I thought I did. I knew I wanted to impact change, but I didn’t know how. When people asked what I wanted to study, I would tell them, but I was always full of a sense of incompleteness. Being a teacher didn’t fully encompass my life’s purpose. My passion for the environment had always been inside of me- all of my summers have been spent roaming the country in a van, camping, hiking, and backpacking in national parks. This instilled a love of nature and a need to protect it- but I didn’t know how. I had never been a science person, so I didn’t want to be an environmental scientist. I didn’t know how to be an environmental advocate through a human lense- interacting with people, which I loved about being a teacher. Competing in Project Green Challenge was like being fully alive for the first time. For the first time in my life, it was clear to me what I wanted to do- combine interacting with people, social justice, and environmental conservation into one job. The whole concept of educating and inspiring youth to protect the environment and fight for a more sustainable future was a wonderful one- it completely encapsulated what I wanted to do with my life! Because of Project Green Challenge, I am now majoring in Global Sustainability, as well as Youth and Social Innovation. My goal is to work in a nonprofit like Turning Green, educating and mobilizing people to live more sustainable lives and become advocates themselves. Even if I do not make it to the finals, I am fundamentally changed because of this experience, and for that I thank you.

Picture yourself as a changemaker and tell us how you will affect that change.

I think that for any major change, there are always a few key steps that you have to implement. Thanks to Project Green Challenge, I feel confident in my ability to successfully implement them! The first is education. I can spread the word about the impact these various factors have on the environment. I will host talks and bring speakers to communities, college campuses, and workplaces, and create campaigns informing people about their environmental impact. The next is inspiring them to create the change in themselves. It can be in small ways, like bringing a reusable water bottle, or big ways, like going vegan or buying an electric car. The important thing is that after you give people the bad news(ie. climate change is real, 6th mass extinction, huge amounts of waste), you give them the good news- they have the ability to change this. You create a sense of agency within them by showing them that there is a solution and inspiring them to achieve it. The next goal is to help them effect change in others by starting grassroots movements. These movements can lobby for governmental change, go directly to companies and consumers to influence their practices, and show the world that people care about the environment! The next step is money. We can raise money to invest in sustainable companies and environmental nonprofits. This will help them become more successful and create a larger scale change! With these steps, we will be well on our way to implementing world wide changes.

Dylan Simpson

Junior, Illinois Central College, East Peoria, IL

My name is Dylan Simpson. I am from Morton, IL, and I currently attend Illinois Central College. I am the president of my school’s Rotary Club, a Senior Senator on our Student Government Association, and the social media coordinator for our environmental club, Student Association for the Environment. The last two semesters I have been awarded Presidential Honors and I placed first in a school-wide sustainability contest.  I am a nature lover and photography enthusiast. In my free time I enjoy running, bike riding, and hiking. I am currently majoring in Civil and Environmental Engineering and I hope to make changes that will leave a long-lasting impact on future generations.

What five words best describe your PGC experience?

Contagious. Exciting. Fun. Eye-opening & Transformational

What was most memorable from your PGC experience?

The most memorable aspect was an extra credit challenge. I reached out and got two different businesses to switch to paper straws. It really made me feel like an eco-hero. I helped spark the change in two different communities. This has the potential to make the customers make a change in their own lives. It also can ripple effect into other businesses in the different communities. This is memorable to me because I ensued change.

Think about yourself pre-PGC, just 30 days ago, and then think about who you are today. How have you changed? What have you learned about yourself?

30 days ago, I didn’t think about the products I used, I didn’t care if the food I ate was non-GMO or organic, and I wasn’t the most conscious about my waste. The person I am today is different. I see the big picture of making the world more sustainable, but I also see the tiny steps that have to be taken in order to achieve that and reduce our carbon footprint. I can see the difference that I’ve been making and the path that I’m paving. I’ve learned how capable I am to be an eco-hero and I’m doing what I can to be one. I found out that this is my passion and it will be my way to leave my impact on the world.

Picture yourself as a changemaker and tell us how you will affect that change.

I am going to continue to work with my college leaders to instill change on the campus. Such as dealing with our food waste issues, by pushing the food grown in our Horticulture Center to be used in the meals that we serve, rather than being thrown away. I am also working on making my campus more eco-friendly, by making the administration aware of the effects of one-use items. There is a need to make our cafeteria more sustainable. I am going to push for reusable options, rather than the paper plates, plastic utensils, and non-reusable plastic cups we currently use. I am also in contact with Fair Trade to make our school a Fair Trade campus. In my community, I will continue to push for eco-friendly straws at various restaurants. I will be an eco-advocate for problems like food waste and help find a way to feed our food insufficient families. I will continue to do cleanup days around my campus and the surrounding communities. I will continue to push my family and friends to make more eco-friendly choices to lessen their carbon footprints, by walking more, using reusable bags, recycling, and educating them on phantom energy sources. As I continue on my path as a Civil Engineer emphasizing in Environmental Engineering, I will continue to learn how to make this world more sustainable, and I will continue to share my newfound knowledge with those around me.

Emma Melis

Freshman, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

I am a passionate young environmentalist, originally from Toronto, Canada, and now living in the heart of Montreal to attend McGill University, where I study Arts and Sciences for Sustainability, Science, and Society. Environment-wise, I’m super passionate about pollinators, “trashion,” zerowaste, and respect for nature. Otherwise, I love painting with watercolours, writing, learning languages, watching documentaries, travelling, and meeting new people.

What five words best describe your PGC experience?

Stimulating. Challenging. Educational. Empowering. Creative.

What was most memorable from your PGC experience?

Oh boy… there were so many unforgettable PGC moments for me. From loudly blurting out “STOP SUCKING!” at my friends when they accidentally took straws, out of habit, in the days following the Strawless Water Challenge, to cooking a meal of dumpster-dived food with people in my residence, there are a lot of memories to think about when I recall the PGC. Ultimately, the most memorable aspect of the PGC for me was engaging people and getting them involved in some of my crazy (at times!) schemes. I couldn’t have completed this challenge without the members of the Environmental Residence Council, my residence-mates, and my close friends and family. The PGC’s element of social communication, leadership, and engagement in each challenge was definitely one of my favourite parts of the PGC’s set-up. It forced me to expand my sphere of influence and of activism outreach, and was a great way to force myself to ‘be out there,’ like a push in the right direction.

Think about yourself pre-PGC, just 30 days ago, and then think about who you are today. How have you changed? What have you learned about yourself?

I have absorbed so much information and wisdom in such a short amount of time, and have become well-versed in issues that I’d never really researched before.

Before PGC, I felt like a passionate environmentalist. Now, I’m informed and equipped with hundreds of resources to pass on to others and spread helpful messages, information, and tips and encourage environmental efforts.

From PGC, I learned that it’s my vocation to study environmental sustainability. Do you know that feeling of relief when you find that everything has finally “clicked” into place? Delving deeper and deeper into the infinite well of environmental activism this month has shown me that this is my life’s calling — to be a steward of the planet in whatever and all ways I can.

Picture yourself as a changemaker and tell us how you will affect that change.

Over the course of this month, I’ve been tasked with becoming knowledgeable about environmental issues and coming up with solutions and step-by-step approaches in mitigating and resolving these issues. The challenge trained me to tackle future initiatives I hope to lead.

The purpose of this challenge can be summed up into this simple word progression: EDUCATION. INSPIRATION. ACTION. IMPACT. REPEAT. When one person is EDUCATED about an important environmental issue at hand, either in their own local region or in another global part of the world, and they feel intensely angered or saddened by the problem, they’re INSPIRED to act upon it. There were many challenges this month that made me learn more about issues I’d always glossed over in my own daily life, and by learning more about the detrimental realities of many of these things, I realised how bad it all is and how it must be changed. So follows the ACTION. If the change is going to happen, an action plan and project layout, needs to be set up with a specific set of goals in mind and so that it can happen dynamically to engage people. By engaging people with a successful campaign and project, there is an IMPACT. The environment benefits from the positive impact of your campaign, and there’s also a social impact as a result of leadership from within. If more and more people become involved and inspired, the process will continue and REPEAT itself as the cycle starts all over again. This is the kind of Ripple effect I will want to always strive for!

When I picture myself as a future changemaker, I see myself… being myself. I think that the only way to effectively spread inspiration to others is to naturally show your own inspiration and passion for the cause in question. I want to use my strengths to my advantage to effect changes and to benefit people and the planet.

Jasmine Bylander

Freshman, University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, MO

I am a dedicated freshman at the University of Central Missouri and a trail-blazer. I live life to the fullest and I tend to see the best in every situation and everybody. I value people who are honest and respectful. New cultures, food, and adventures are my favorite things to learn about and experience. I am always up to a challenge and to taking risks. I am willing to listen and help others in any way I can. I want to make a change in the world by leaving a positive effect on it and everyone I meet.

What five words best describe your PGC experience?

Enlightening, Fun, Encouraging, Inspiring, Educational  

What was most memorable from your PGC experience?

The most memorable aspect of PGC 2018 for me was what happened during the straw challenge. I finally saw and felt what it is like to share your ideas then have them bashed in by people who are not as openminded as you. There was so much hate and negativity that I almost gave up. I got messages and people started to post opposing views just to go against the idea. Then there was a light in the darkness I got positive messages from people and support from my family. I learned that if you believe in something you can’t give up and that there is always hope. This experience has strengthened my dedication and made it my goal to prove them wrong. To prove that we can make a change.  

Think about yourself pre-PGC, just 30 days ago, and then think about who you are today. How have you changed? What have you learned about yourself?

PGC has changed me in so many ways. I have changed my diet, my daily routine, how I shop, basically the way I live my life. Before PGC I had thought I was living a pretty green life. I grew my own food, shopped second hand, used reusable containers and water bottles, and recycled. Everything I thought would make me an Earth-friendly person, little did I know that there was so much more that I didn’t know and that I could do.
I have changed in so many ways and I learned that I am so much more powerful then I thought I was. I have the power to impact people. Shift views and teach them how to take care of our home. I gained the confidence to share my views and urge others to follow. I found something I am passionate about and something I want to pursue more. I learned that I am not weak, that I am not quiet, and that I am not bored or clueless, I just never found the right thing for me.

Picture yourself as a changemaker and tell us how you will affect that change.

I really want to become a green leader on campus. We have already started to set up a “Green Team” club and we finalize it next semester. We also, plan on actually doing the envo. convention (I am so excited)!! The club and I are starting to talk about the basic planning and dates to rent out the rec center. Also, I want to connect my high school back home with PGC too because I didn’t have this opportunity then and I feel like it would have been amazing at that time in my life. Finally, I am taking the information I have gotten from the challenges and my research and putting it on my blog, this will help publicize my ideas and inform even more people. I am going to continue to be work on becoming vegan and sharing information.

Lara Breithaupt

Junior, Bloomington High School South, Bloomington, IN

I am a Junior attending Bloomington High School South in Southern Indiana. I am a dual citizen of the United States and Germany and have spent about two years living in Germany. At school, my focuses are on  sciences and mathematics and I plan to major in Physics when I go to college. By the end of my junior year in high school, I will likely have the standing of a minor in mathematics at Indiana University, Bloomington. I am the leader of the Students Advocating for a Greener Environment club (SAGE), participate in Science Olympiad, Academic Super Bowl, and Activity Council, play the cello, and lacrosse. With my soccer team, we won the state championship in 2015. I studied cello at the Jacob’s School of Music precollege program for 9 years and now continue privately. In my summers, she enjoys swimming at the lake, traveling, and trekking.

What five words best describe your PGC experience?

Intensity, ah-ha-moments, empowerment, hope, leadership

What was most memorable from your PGC experience?

One of the most memorable PGC experiences that I had was my talk on the Justice of Climate Change. I was able to step in my class as a student leader and provoke meaningful discussion among my peers. This challenge to talk in front of other people about an issue that is very important to me was in the beginning very nerve-racking. However, once I saw that people were responding well and participating in the discussion and activity, I was able to see that my hard work paid off, making me feel more calm and accomplished. My AP Environmental Science teacher made her event for the day opened only to students who wanted to come to my presentation. I was not expecting the room to be completely filled. It was so incredible to see person after person walk into the room until there were roughly 50 students there to listen to me talk. This was the first big presentation that I had ever given, so it was very reassuring to see that I had so much support, even if I didn’t even know many of the people (they opted to come from my teacher advertising me and seeing the interesting activity name in the sign up page).

Think about yourself pre-PGC, just 30 days ago, and then think about who you are today. How have you changed? What have you learned about yourself?

Before this experience, I thought that I knew a decent amount about sustainability. Throughout the challenges, I learned about practices that had never even crossed my mind in my everyday life. One was when we learned about fast fashion. I hadn’t put much thought into where my clothes were coming from before I learned about the huge impact it has on other people’s lives and the environment. After completing all of the challenges, I realized how much I didn’t know 30 day ago. I was surprised by the amount of things that I took for granted, that I would now never do, such as using the occasional plastic water bottle.  

Picture yourself as a changemaker and tell us how you will affect that change.

One of the biggest lessons of PGC was that I learned that spreading ideas is possible for me, already as a high school student. For example, I was featured on the front page of our local newspaper (The Herald Times) during the challenges. One of my articles will appear in my school’s newspaper (The Optimist). These are both examples of how I have been able to reach my community. In the future, I plan on continuing my efforts to spread awareness about these vital environmental issues in my community and to other students. I can bring my knowledge of these topics to the environmental club at my school so that we can make even greater change in our school. I now know how to properly contact my representatives, which is the best way to convey my stance, as a student, on certain issues in the government. I will push others to contact their local representatives to make change happen all around the country and world. We are the leaders of tomorrow, and we can change the earth for the better.

Morgan Bliss

Freshman, McDaniel College, Westminster, MD

I’m 18, and originally from Poolesville, Maryland. I am a freshman at McDaniel College, where I plan to double major in Political Science and Environmental Science. In high school, I was a part of the Global Ecology magnet program that acted as a catalyst for my interest in environmental justice. I am also passionate about intersectionality, especially as it relates to human rights and the queer community. My pronouns are they/them, and I currently have fourteen plants in my dorm room!

What five words best describe your PGC experience?
Inspiring. Empowering. Educational. Encouraging. Important.
What was most memorable from your PGC experience?
The most memorable aspect of PGC for me this year was waking up early, turning my alarm off, and being greeted by an email notification telling me I’d won a challenge. It was so … encouraging, to see that my work was being recognized, and the submissions that I was proud of, other people enjoyed too. Plus, this was the first time I’ve ever won a challenge on my own! I remember doing a happy little wiggle dance in bed, as much as I could express some joy without waking my roommate. It was an excellent start to my day, and the prizes I received have come in excellent use – nothing like some yerba mate to sip on when you’re out in the damp cold for an Environmental Management lab.

 

Think about yourself pre-PGC, just 30 days ago, and then think about who you are today. How have you changed? What have you learned about yourself?

I’ve become a lot more conscious, of my impact on the environment, of my impact on others, of my lasting impact on the planet. From the clothes I wear to the food I eat to the way my trash is taken care of, every choice I make supports a system in some way or another. Whether that system is sustainable, creating good in the world, or not, is the choice that falls to me. I’ve changed in that, while understanding my impact, or a bit more of it than before this challenge, I seek to support good systems. Fair trade, organic, local, sustainable – I’ve started to go out of my way to change the way I consume. beyond just the inherent dangers and lack of sustainability in consumerism, I’ve grown more curious and more impassioned about the necessary shift our country must make. We need restorative agriculture, renewable energy, sustainable development, and we need this now. I’ve learned that I actually quite like to teach. Maybe not traditionally, with a lecture and a projector to assist, but in leading discussions and showing resources and sharing a wealth of knowledge.

Picture yourself as a changemaker and tell us how you will affect that change.

Most obviously, the knowledge I’ve acquired in the past 30 days easily translates to my environmental science and political science classes, offering a more in-depth and personal perspective than most textbooks. I want to educate people. One person can start a movement, but I don’t want to do this alone, to feel as if I am the sole bearer of knowledge in my community of peers. So I’ll share it. I plan to first pick an area of focus that I’m most passionate in to narrow my own additional research and information so I don’t drone on too long, design a presentation, then get the necessary permissions and campus-based knowledge to actually present, and inspire others in a subject the same way PGC has inspired me. Around this, I plan to vote, and I plan to continue writing letters to politicians, and working with/supporting relevant movements to make sure my voice is heard. I will not be erased, and as I grow into my shoes as a changemaker myself, I’ll ensure that the ones who seem to be really making decisions for the nature know what we want – an actually livable planet to thrive on.

Sienna “Grayson” Lippert

Senior, Tacoma Science and Math Institute, Tacoma, WA

My name is Sienna “Grayson” Lippert and I am a senior in high school at the Tacoma Science and Math Institute. My favorite class is my running start Economics class, but I am also partial to my English class. In my free time, I love to play and plan Dungeons and Dragons and to cuddle with my hedgehog. I also enjoy cycling and I hope to become healthy enough to do the Seattle to Portland bike ride again. I am new to the environmentalism scene, but in the short month of Project Green Challenge, I have learned so much. I hope to continue my learning far outside of school as I pursue new passions and try to adapt my lifestyle to a greener version! Project Green Challenge has given me purpose in life and I will fight to keep that going.
What five words best describe your PGC experience?

Ambition. Environmental. Overwhelming. Dedication. Fun.

What was most memorable from your PGC experience?

For me, the most memorable aspect of Project Green Challenge is how it’s ever changing, like a kaleidoscope. It kept my mind flexible and on its metaphorical toes as I raced against the clock to get each day’s learning and challenges done. I’ve been learning time management every single day along with new topics for each challenge set.

Think about yourself pre-PGC, just 30 days ago, and then think about who you are today. How have you changed? What have you learned about yourself?

30 days ago, I would have never dreamed of making a change in the world around me. 30 days ago, I believed that my lifestyle was good enough for me and the world around me. But now, I realize that perfection is impossible, but progress is always possible. I have been taking a more active role in my own life, making conscious decisions about what I’m buying, wearing and supporting. I’ve learned that I’ve let myself “go” in a way. By reigning in my self-control, I have become healthier, more environmentally conscious, and have gotten a grip on my PTSD and anxiety. PGC has truly changed my life.

Picture yourself as a changemaker and tell us how you will affect that change.

As a changemaker, I want to use my newfound confidence to help implement plastic reduction at my local zoo and better sex ed at my high school. I’m seeking out ways to reduce waste at my zoo by targeting one source of waste and researching alternatives. At my high school, I will communicate with administrators and teachers to implement anti-rape and pro-women lessons in sex ed. I will also use this knowledge to start revolutionizing my own lifestyle and live by example. To start, I will put my foot down and commit to living a minimal lifestyle. I’ll also take a look at what I’m putting on my skin and in my body, and encourage others to do the same.

Sunny Bitner

Junior, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS

I’m 19 and a junior at the University of Kansas. I’m from a small town called Spring Hill, KS and have lived in Kansas my whole life. I love cats and trees, and I always want to be a morning person but the night owl in me always wins. I try to look on the brighter side of things, and my humor is one of my better traits. My motto is “Leave it as you found it.” I have always been passionate about nature, so I am an environmental studies major, and especially after completing PGC, I have been dedicated to protecting the environment and everything in it. I do not have an exact career path planned, but I know whatever I do, it will be in the name of environmentalism, and that I will prioritize the good I am doing over the amount of money I make.

What five words best describe your PGC experience?
Eye-opening. Inspiring. Challenging. Rewarding. Dedication.

 

What was most memorable from your PGC experience?

My most memorable aspect would probably be the reactions I have gotten from people about what I am doing, specifically from my siblings. My sisters, particularly my youngest sister, who is a seventh grader, telling me that they really like my Instagram posts about PGC is huge, because siblings are notorious for never actually saying anything positive or congratulatory unless they really mean it. My sisters don’t usually vocally support my actions, so to see that they were so moved as to not only tell me they liked my PGC content, but to tell their friends as well, was huge for me.

Think about yourself pre-PGC, just 30 days ago, and then think about who you are today. How have you changed? What have you learned about yourself?

Before PGC, I cared about the environment, but I wasn’t doing a whole lot about that. I had some ideas, but I never really acted on them. I would mean to bring my reusable bags to the grocery store, and I recycled, but I never thought too hard about what I could be doing better, or what my individual impact on the world was. I have learned that the impact we all have is huge. It feels like you are insignificant to the world, but when you make yourself heard and put yourself out there, people will pay attention. When you use your impact on the world for good, it can make a real difference in making the world a better place.

Picture yourself as a changemaker and tell us how you will affect that change.

I will continue my education through to at least finishing my bachelors in environmental studies, and I hope to go to graduate school in order to attain an even higher degree pertaining to environmentalism. I don’t exactly know what my career goals are, but I have learned through PGC that my calling is to work and advocate for the environment. I will dedicate my life to protecting our planet in whatever way I can do best. This might be through policy making, through conservation efforts, through education, or something else. Regardless, I will show this love for our environment through my future career, my purchases, my personal choices, and with my vote. Fighting for clean air and water, for recycling and composting, for Fair Trade, for renewable energy, for sustainable agriculture- you name it. If it helps the environment, I want in.

Team Champlain Eco Queens (Hansel Carter IV, Margaret Woodman, Zoe Caron)

, Champlain College, Burlington, VT

My name is Hansel Alexander Carter IV. I was born in Queens¨New York and lived there for a greater part of my childhood with two sisters and my mother. Afterwards ,I have moved to places like Virginia, Florida, New Delhi, India, and Cairo, Egypt.  I am currently attending Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. (A very big change in weather.) I am a student leader on campus as an Resident Assistant, Eco Rep and lead two clubs the International Community Club and CHAMP. I enjoy cross country track and field wrestling and strive to be a global citizen and hope to bring my experiences to this gathering.

What five words best describe your PGC experience?

Passionate. Motivated. Justice. Educated. Powerful.

What was most memorable from your PGC experience?

The most memorable aspect of PGC 2018 was definitely the Water Insecurity presentation I showed to my colleges Eco-Rep team! This was for the Justice Challenge. I went all-in for this project in researching new data and statistics about water scarcity and insecurity not just in the United States but globally as well. I wanted to break out of the local aspect and really ingrain in my team members how common and dire this issue was in other parts of the world. This was mostly memorable due to the responses I got back from my team and how they examined these issues from their own backgrounds. I was very excited and satisfied to hear how they engaged with the information that was presented to them. I found this challenge to be the perfect opportunity to share what I have experienced in these countries myself and share a part of who I am and why I am so passionate about these subjects.

Think about yourself pre-PGC, just 30 days ago, and then think about who you are today. How have you changed? What have you learned about yourself?

When I started this challenge, I can definitely say I would not have called myself an activist or involved in any social justice work. I was and still am passionate about certain topics but it was not to the point that I would go out of my way to do something about those issues. After taking this challenge, I learned just how much I can do to change the issues I encounter in my community. Problems that may seem impossible to solve such as getting a business to stop using plastic straws can be as simple as having a conversation with them about their effect on the environment, cost, and logical issues that may arise with change. I’ve also began to be more connected with social issues not just in my community but around the world. I find myself more and more bringing topics into daily conversation whether its something as small as telling a friend a styrofoam cup is horrible for the environment or bringing up examples of water scarcity and poverty in India in my Global Condition class when relative to the conversation. I learned I can be more involved and active in my community and that the small steps I take towards achieving goals like these go a long way!

Picture yourself as a changemaker and tell us how you will affect that change.

After gaining all of this information, I will use my skills as a presenter, marketer, and speaker to share what I’ve learned from this challenge. I will introduce topics and themes in ways that engage the audience whether through presentations, lectures, or activities! If there’s anything this challenge has taught me, it is how to be creative with presentation. This is crucial in today’s constantly moving world. Engagement and involvement proves effectiveness and creativity keeps people actively listening throughout. Once you have garnered attention, change is one step closer.

Team Green Girls (Sophie Moniz, Nawal Gaal)

, TC Williams High School, Alexandria, VA

I am a junior at TC Williams in Alexandria, Virginia. I play field hockey and I swim. I also love traveling and doing new and adventurous things. I love baking and doing crafts, or basically anything that I can make with my hands! I love being with my family and spending time with them. I also love the environment and feel like my generation is responsible for saving it. I want to spread the word about sustainability so future generations can have a beautiful planet.

What five words best describe your PGC experience?
Eye- Opening. Fun. Adventurous. Enlightening. Motivational.

 

What was most memorable from your PGC experience?
The most memorable part of PGC was definitely winning my first challenge. All of the days leading up to the email about winning the challenge, I kept checking my inbox. I knew that I had worked really hard on the challenge, and seeing that I won was amazing. My work being chosen out of 6,000 people is a crazy thought, and every time I win a challenge I get really excited.

 

Think about yourself pre-PGC, just 30 days ago, and then think about who you are today. How have you changed? What have you learned about yourself?
Before PGC, I wasn’t really doing much to live a sustainable lifestyle other than cutting out plastic straws and grocery bags. Since then, I’ve learned so much about the Earth and why we need to start protecting it right now. I have become more confident in my work and I’m not afraid to share my opinions of sustainability. I’ve learned that once I do something, I don’t stop until its completed. So, when I started learning about sustainability, I knew I wouldn’t stop spreading the word until the world is saved, even if that takes forever. I have become super passionate about the environment and have definitely changed for the better. I have also learned that even though I worked in a team, I work better as an individual. Although I will have to work in teams for the rest of my life, at least I know what my strong suit is.
Picture yourself as a changemaker and tell us how you will affect that change.

In the near future, I see myself holding assemblies at my school and in local centers. I have said this before in some of the challenges, but spreading the word about living green is the first step in people changing their lifestyles; it is the reason why more people know about it. A bigger goal of mine is to implement sustainable practices in my school. If the youth are already practicing going green, they will continue to do that in the future, and hopefully pass it on. I want to get my school an actual recycling program, a composting program, and switch to organic and non- GMO food. I also want the school to get rid of the awful Styrofoam plates and plastic utensils, and use reusable and washable ones. We will cut back on so much waste and promote a healthier lifestyle.

Team Holocoen (Aradhya Seth, Akshita Joshi, Anadi Mandloi, Bhupinder Singh)

, Oriental Institute of Science and Technology, Bhopal, India

I believe that greatest threat to our Environment is to believe someone else will save it. I will give all it takes to save our mother nature.

What five words best describe your PGC experience?

Sustainable. Ingenious. Ambitious. Resourceful. Eco-Friendly.

What was most memorable from your PGC experience?

The most memorable aspect of PGC was when I learnt about fair trade and that has become the favourite part of my PGC journey. The magazine that I was given to go through had so many stories in it, so many lives were associated with them and so many people had their part to play. I never thought of the hands which made my product but now I’m concerned about them more than my own self. These little things influenced me and that’s how I beheaded things the way I wanted. The submission for the story task holds an important place in my heart for I got to know about the injustice and humanity around the world. I am grateful for the fact that I was a part of such a great initiative and contributed a part of my bit. I’ll surely take things forward and will try to implement them as well.

Think about yourself pre-PGC, just 30 days ago, and then think about who you are today. How have you changed? What have you learned about yourself?

Yes, I have definitely seen a change in myself. I am more conscious now, I am more aware now. On October 1, I was not even sure whether I will be able to complete this challenge, but yes, I did it. We completed each and every task of PGC 2018 and we are really proud of it.

Picture yourself as a changemaker and tell us how you will affect that change.

Success is a journey and not a destination; and being a part of PGC has made me realize that I have achieved one. We had our obstacles and hurdles to overcome; and we did do that, each with a lesson learnt, each with another new reason to keep the fire of zeal and exuberance ignited.

I believe I have started my journey as a change maker, starting from the constructive transformations which I have brought about in the past 30 days. They may be indigenous and small, but they were the stepping stones to creating a worldwide impact and we are proud to affirm that we have accomplished the former milestone.

If I were to be established as a change maker, the changes I would like to bring would be as follows:
1. Create awareness: Often, we are superficially aware of the issue but face trouble while finding solutions for it because the root cause is anonymous to us. For instance, pre PGC, I knew environmental degradation prevails but post PGC I am well aware of the causes, effects and  measures to be taken to eradicate the same.
2. Promoting ACT, REACT, IMPACT: Our negligent and laid back attitude as citizens has landed us into this abysmal state (delete: at the first step), so, encouraging action is of the utmost significance. Think globally, act locally. Then, raising our voice, demanding justice is mandatory. Voice your opinions, act on your words because you are your own warrior as well as savior, so fight against what’s wrong and support what’s right.

Then, along with your one little action, you impact the lives of many around you, and I have seen that myself in my journey of PGC.

Team Nature Nerds (Jennifer Lin, Alice Chen, Joanne Li, Richard Ren)

, Jericho High School, Jericho, NY

I’m a junior at Jericho High School in Long Island, New York. I’ve lived in Long Island my whole life, and I think that because of this, I love environmentalism. My neighborhood may look like as normal suburb, but it’s also so much more than that. We are surrounded by beautiful beaches, the Long Island Sound, and also the most beautiful forests and parks. I grew up going on nature walks with my family, who have always been environmental. When I was in 4th grade, my dad made a compost bin and I later carried this on by starting vermicomposting and spreading the idea to my friends and community. As of now, I think of myself as an innovator and an environmentalist. I want to change the world to be sustainable in smarter ways. My STEM background has taught me to be practical and efficient, while my environmental background has kept me grounded and reminded me of my values of a cleaner, unified Earth.

What five words best describe your PGC experience?

Enlightening. Inspiring. Creative. Transformative. Adventurous.

What was most memorable from your PGC experience?

The most memorable aspect of PGC 2018 was working with and learning from people we never expected to work with before! Us sophomores never expected to work with Jennifer, a junior, who taught us so much when it comes to presentations, designs, and the process of PGC. (We seriously couldn’t’ve done it without her!) It was interesting meeting new people from our respective friend groups, grades and even schools as well, as each of us brought in different friends throughout the challenges.

Think about yourself pre-PGC, just 30 days ago, and then think about who you are today. How have you changed? What have you learned about yourself?

I met my PGC team through our school’s research program, and I can guarantee that they are some of the brightest sophomores you will ever meet. I was blown away by their sheer determination and enthusiasm for learning more. The past 30 days spent with these brilliant minds and an abundance of new knowledge has been captivating and inspiring. As we look back, we see how far we have come from those four unconscious kids, to four sustainable game changers. Through PGC we have learned to educate ourselves, educate others, and mobilize for action on important environmental issues, creating an impact and paving the way for a sustainable world. This movement has taught us that caring for the Earth is just as important as caring for ourselves- we only have one planet and we should do everything in our power to ensure that it is sustainable.

From learning about our school’s energy sources, worker conditions in the fashion industry, and overall statistics about how our world is being affected by climate change, we all feel a greater sense of urgency and motivation in protecting our environment. We’ve all learned about our personal impacts on the environment, such as our carbon footprints and how our individual habits (such as the type of shampoo we use) affect our health and the environment.

Picture yourself as a changemaker and tell us how you will affect that change.

We will all increase awareness of environmental harms and lead efforts to work against them. As the secretary of the Environmental Club, Jennifer is able to personally organize projects, such as beach cleanups, that will be able to help the environment. She’s also researching green technology as a part of our school’s science research program. Alice has been a part of several environmental projects, especially one working to promote plastic roadways as an additive to the asphalt bitumen roads used today. These roads reuse waste-plastic to mix with asphalt and bitumen, increasing road lifespan and reducing up to 10% of the amount of bitumen, which is made from oil, needed! (The roads themselves are recyclable as well!) Joanne is part of a school online newspaper and has already published articles raising awareness of various environmental issues. She wants to increase the focus on the topic of environmentalism in her school newspaper and community overall by becoming an editor the following year. Richard wants to focus on increasing awareness through creating videos and animations that he can then publish online. He’s working on filming, animating, and editing videos, in addition to writing accompanying music. We will not only work on our own, but as a team again. Working as a team for PGC 2018 has been a great experience, and it will be great to work as a team once more, but with the help of many others as well, of course.

Sophia Ludtke

Junior, Newark Academy, Gladstone, NJ

I am from Gladstone, NJ and a high school junior at Newark Academy where I am the co-president of my school’s Green & Blue Committee, our environmental club. I enjoy writing nature-inspired poetry and reporting on environmental news for my school newspaper. I also love spending time outdoors, whether hiking, gardening, cross-country skiing, or exploring national parks, and I recently travelled to Acadia National Park with the Earthwatch Institute to learn more about climate change research. In the future, I hope to explore the science of climate change along with issues related to environmental justice and public health. Having grown up abroad in Paris, France, I am also interested in how international affairs and diplomacy relate to environmentalism. Outside of my interest in the environment, I am a dancer with a modern dance company called In Motion, and I am Student Council president of my class.

What five words best describe your PGC experience?

Thought-provoking. Inspiring. Validating. Challenging. Life-changing.

What was most memorable from your PGC experience?

I’d say my most memorable PGC experience was staying up until 2 AM working on my “eco summit” poster for the Ripple challenge. I got so carried away thinking through my plan. PGC pushed me to formally think it through and write it down on paper. And, I am now that much more inspired to turn an idea into a reality.

Think about yourself pre-PGC, just 30 days ago, and then think about who you are today. How have you changed? What have you learned about yourself?

Overall, PGC has just been such a validating, even life-affirming experience. With each and every daily challenge, I began to feel more and more a part of a greater community of like-minded people and it is just such a great feeling to finally realize that. Following the work of the other PGC participants through the “winners” tab each day and hearing the other participants express their enthusiasm and passion for the environment through the PGC Facebook page really cemented for me the idea that so many people from so many different corners of the world care so much about the very same issues I do. I think this realization was probably the most impactful part of my whole PGC experience. Being in this kind of community motivated and pushed me to work that much harder and to think that much more deeply when working on each daily challenge, and it would be a dream come true to get to meet some of these people in person.

Picture yourself as a changemaker and tell us how you will affect that change.

Thinking about the idea of “thinking globally, acting locally”, there are several specific changes I would like to see take place at my school:

  • I am currently in the process of scheduling a meeting with one of my school administrators to discuss reusable energy options on our campus. Several neighboring schools have already paved the way and are using clean energy sources such as solar panels — it is my hope that our school might be able to look into something similar.
  • After our Fair Trade challenge, I noticed how our school vending machines currently don’t sell any Fair Trade products. Along with the Green & Blue Committee (environmental club) that I am a part of at my school, we are going to do some more research about specific fair trade products and encourage our school to begin to sell more of these products in our vending machines.
  • Like I keep mentioning, the biggest idea that I would like to see become a reality is my idea for a north central NJ high school eco summit. Already, I have been corresponding with our Green & Blue Committee club advisor and we have already begun to bounce ideas back and forth about specific speakers who could come to the summit/where and when the summit could be hosted etc.

These are just a few of the countless ideas that I hope to see implemented in my school over the upcoming years.