“Climate change is the single biggest thing that humans have ever done on this planet. The one thing that needs to be bigger is our movement to stop it.”
~ Bill McKibben (350.org)
Welcome to Project Green Challenge! Today marks the beginning of your month-long journey from conventional to conscious. We are so glad you came on board. Over the next 30 days, you will learn about everything from food to fitness, water to zero waste, fashion to fair trade and more. You will discover simple lifestyle changes to reduce negative impact on human and environmental health, and how to make positive changes in your life, on your campus, and in your community. It is our hope that through PGC, you will cultivate your own voice for change and discover issues that spark your passion. Let’s get started!
Each of you comes from a different place, with varied knowledge and a unique lifestyle. You may live at home, in a dorm or a college town. Some of you consider yourselves lifelong greenies, and some may not have a clue what eco living even entails. However, there is one thing you all have in common: a carbon footprint.
A carbon footprint is the total amount of carbon dioxide (CO2 ) we emit as a result of daily life. Everywhere we go and everything we do has an impact on people and the planet. How big of an impact, you ask?
Carbon dioxide is the top contributor to climate change. Climate change, as environmentalist Bill McKibben so aptly says, is BIG. It is so big, that sometimes the facts and figures associated can be downright overwhelming. Here are the basics: the carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in our atmosphere, measured in parts per million (ppm), must stay below 350 ppm to sustain a healthy planet. But instead of diminishing our CO2 levels, they are on the rise. According to EcoWatch, March 2015 was the first time that global levels averaged more than 400 ppm every day for an entire month.
We may not notice it everyday, but we all experience the detrimental effects of rising planetary CO2 levels. Severely fluctuating temperatures, decreased agricultural productivity, increased extreme weather events (hurricanes, droughts, heat waves, etc.), altered ecosystems, and ocean acidification are all linked to increased global CO2 emissions. Climate change is the definitive challenge of our time, as Friends of the Earth explains.
What can one person do? Quite a lot, actually.
Individuals can take actions that contribute to a solution, as can businesses and organizations. Our partner Guayaki shows just how much you can reduce impact through lifestyle and consumer choices with these great graphics and statistics.
Now, let’s explore how shifting personal habits can reduce your carbon footprint. Every change begins with one person – in this case, YOU!
The United States has the second highest carbon footprint of any nation, right behind China. This has a lot to do with our country’s patterns of production and consumption. If every person on the planet lived like the average American, it would take more than five planet earths to sustain their habits.
Before you can transition from something to something else (in this case from conventional to conscious), it’s important to take a moment to assess your starting point.
Please take a few minutes to fill out the PGC 2015 Self Evaluation below. This survey is of the utmost importance in your journey forward. It will allow you to reflect on your daily life and offer a broad sense of the areas in which you may be able to improve.
Click here to fill out the survey.
What are two things that you have learned about yourself through this survey that in 30 days you might want to improve? Upload your responses in a PDF document.
To get below 350 ppm, we need to come together and mobilize communities to change practices and advocate for governments to pass critical legislation. You too can be a force for change by encouraging people to pay attention and support these important issues.
Small changes may not seem like much in a world inhabited by 7 billion people, but each small decision can contribute to a healthy and thriving planet.
Share the link to Global Footprint Network’s calculator with your friends and family on Facebook and challenge them to calculate their carbon footprint as well! Share one significant change that you will commit to and nominate/tag three people to make that change in their own lives for the rest of the week (or more). Show us a screenshot or a picture of your post with at least one response from someone you tagged. Make sure to tag @Turning Green and include #PGC2015.
In a word document, record your results from the calculator, your three carbon-intensive activities, the changes you could make for each activity, and two sentences telling us why it’s crucial for you to minimize your carbon footprint. Include a screenshot or a picture of your Facebook post, and list any responses. Please include your name (or team name), username, email address, and school.
In the “Story of Cap and Trade” video of the day, you saw how Annie Leonard has reached millions of people through creative videos and informational storytelling. The power of one is massive! Your voice can change the world.
Take your ideas even further and create an impactful tool to share your message. Make a video, write a song, or film a PSA, (ie: interview students, teachers, or peers). Post your creation on social media, tag Turning Green appropriately, include the hashtags #PGC2015 and #CarbonFootprint.
Email the link for your creative presentation to email@example.com. Upload a screenshot of your social media post which must have at least one response. Please include your name (or team name), username, email address, and school.