On April 9th, Turning Green arrived on The Ohio State University to host a Conscious College Road Tour stop. OSU boasts the first official student chapter, Project Green OSU. With over 60,000 students, this stop lived up to it’s full potential of inspiring, motivating, and engaging with hundreds of students in order to create meaningful change on one very large campus. Two days was all it took to change the lives of many, and the feedback from students was incredible and left our team in awe.
We kicked off the Road Tour stop with our Town Hall Meeting on Thursday evening. Students who rsvp’d were able to cast an online vote for the sustainability initiative (out of a list of six) they thought was most important to address at OSU. The top three were: Sustainability Education, Green Roofs and Gardens, and the Real Food Challenge. It was clear students felt passionately about these issues and wanted to see change, the whole room was filled the night of the event! After introducing each of these initiatives to the group and stating specific goals, participants voted again on which one they would like to see carried out. Sustainability Education won with overwhelming support, the majority of the participants agreeing that there must be a better system implemented where all freshmen and transfer students are knowledgeable on what sustainability means and how it affects their everyday life and their school.
At this point, students dug into their delicious Chipotle dinner and broke up into four discussion groups to have conversations about how to best educate first year students on sustainability, and how they can incorporate conscious college living into their everyday. The first group discussed a Freshman Sustainability Quiz imagining if all incoming freshmen were required to take it. The second group brainstormed ideas on what to include in the First-Year Experience (FYE), seminars that first-year students are required to attend. A third group worked on incorporating sustainability themes into all survey classes that are required at OSU, while the last group dreamed up how to make a successful Green Orientation. You could almost see the light bulbs turning on across the room as conversations regarding sustainability education continued until we were literally kicked out of the room for running over time! The evening was full of innovative ideas, productive communication and planning, and true passion for a more sustainable future.
On Friday, Day 2 of the CCRT stop at OSU, dedicated and enthused Project Green OSU members were up bright and early with the Turning Green team to set up for the Conscious Information Station. Our beautiful display of organic, fair trade, and sustainable eco-products was hosted on The Oval, the main grassy area in the heart of Ohio State’s campus. Every volunteer had the opportunity to interact with students and urge them to think about key themes and how to consider ingredients, impact and practices – food, household cleaning products, body care and even their clothing. Each volunteer explained the different tools necessary to start the transition from a conventional to conscious lifestyle, and distributed sample product to help initiate the change. The most exciting part was listening to students gush over everything they had learned, and how they can’t wait to join the movement.
One big focus was industrial hemp. Most students were floored by all the uses of this incredibly versatile crop and were excited to have the opportunity to sign a petition to legalize industrial hemp in the United States. Others were appalled by the injustices of the conventional beauty industry and pledged to start consuming more consciously. One student in particular was surprised that you only need vinegar, lemon, and baking soda to clean your home.
This event, once again, started a ripple effect on campus and there is not a doubt that change is already happening. Once the Turning Green team got back on the road en route to their next stop, Project Green OSU and numerous new students, were left with the building blocks to live a more conscious, healthy, and sustainable life, and translate that into actions on campus.