August first marks 60 days until the start of Project Green Challenge 2015. Project Green Challenge is a 30-day challenge for college and high school students throughout the month of October. Each day has a different theme related to sustainability and environmentalism that challengers learn about and act upon creatively. The goal: to transform your life from conventional to conscious. No environmental studies experience necessary. Beginners welcome. Those looking to change their lives encouraged.
In spring 2014 I set out on a three-month backpacking and outdoor leadership program through NOLS. During that time I learned by doing; making my own food, carrying my trash in my pack, setting up my shelter each night and taking it down every morning. Coming back to college, my courses involved a lot of reading and writing about important issues, but not a lot of action. I felt stuck behind my desk. I wanted to get my hands dirty again. I wanted to be engaged in what I was learning and feel like I was making a difference.
At the end of my first month of school, a friend of mine told me about Project Green Challenge(PGC). My friend, 2013 Winner Madeleine Welsch, explained PGC to me like this: “it’s a crazy month that will probably change your life, especially if you’re willing to put in a little time and effort.”
On the first day, I opened the email from Turning Green and read the day’s challenges on the topic of Organic. I read the topic overview and watched the short video for the day and felt excited and inspired to learn more about organics.
Danielle’s submitted artwork from the Organic Challenge
The rest of the month flew by in an impassioned, sleep-deprived whirlwind full of challenges, prizes (did I mention that there are GREAT prizes available every single day), and lifestyle changes. Everyday I learned about a new topic and took action. I was asked to mobilize my community in ways that I wouldn’t have on my own. Knowing that other students around the world were doing the same gave me the assurance to be bold and create change on my campus.
I realized that I can make choices that respect people and the planet, or I can make choices that harm others and the environment. I do not exist apart from the life and experience of anyone or anything else, living and nonliving. I stopped buying conventional clothes and started to buy only secondhand or organic, ethically-produced clothing. I started eating differently. I changed my cleaning and body product choices to reduce my chemical exposure. I reduced my daily waste production.
I finally felt like I was learning by doing again. I was more affected by that one month of challenges than I was by a whole semester of classes simply because I was engaged in and connected to everything that I was learning about.
At the end of PGC, I applied and was chosen to be a Finalist. Finalists are selected based upon PGC engagement and flown out to San Francisco, where a winner is selected. I got to meet the other student activists, as well as incredible eco-leaders from around the country. Each finalist is showered in prizes, praise and empowerment.
I love everything that’s come out of my participation in PGC last fall, and I love the person that I’ve become. So give PGC a try this fall. You may even change your life.
Finalist from PGC 2014, Danielle is 3rd from the right in the front.
This was written by a guest blogger — Danielle Schoen