This post was written by guest blogger, Missy Martin, a student at Belmont University and Project Green Challenge 2015 Champion. She is a double major in Environmental Science and Social Entrepreneurship.
Throughout my life, being a conscious citizen has always been important to me. I recycle, buy organic, and take short showers, but I did not always consider every opportunity I had to positively impact both human and environmental health. It was not until this fall, when I participated in Project Green Challenge 2015 (PGC), a 30-day eco-lifestyle challenge engaging thousands of high school and college students, that I realized I lived a mostly conventional lifestyle. I was one of the many people who do not think about the externalities of the food they throw away, the practices of the companies that make their shirts, or the ingredients that are in their body products. I did not truly know the meaning of living consciously.
Through PGC’s daily overviews, challenges, and resources, I was given the opportunity tothink critically, meet and talk with school administrators, make beautiful connections with community leaders, and reflect on 30 days of meaningful themes. I learned how to create videos and Pinterest boards for the first time and to articulate and communicate my voice in a new way through petitions and contacting companies in order to encourage more ethical and sustainable practices. This challenge and the people involved have opened my mind and my heart. Now, I see what living consciously, and ultimately, being a global citizen, truly means.
I believe the knowledge I gained on human and environmental issues the global community faces today was the most valuable part of this experience. I began to really feel everything happening around me. I felt anger. I felt love. I felt joy. I felt passion. I have never been pulled in so many directions emotionally. I felt anger toward unethical industries like fast fashion where people are living off $10 a month and being mistreated for trying to improve their working conditions. I felt love as people in my communities and other participants in PGC supported my journey. I felt joy as I learned about the people and companies making a difference by supporting organic, fair trade, non-GMO, and other ethical aspects. I felt passion as I saw change being made as I encouraged others to be mindful in their actions.
I am empowered by the energy that PGC creates to improve our lives and to inspire change makers. PGC ignited a newborn vibrancy inside me. This experience has led me to a new chapter in life, a chapter filled with a social mission and sustainable purpose.
Alongside the head of Belmont University’s Sustainability Committee and Residential Life, I am taking steps to change the cleaning supplies students can check out at the front desk from conventional to conscious products. I am working with the manager of Belmont dining services to source fair trade bananas, coffee, and sugar and effectively implement Meatless Mondays, as well as weighing stations to show students how much waste they create.
In the next few years, I aspire to create a Conscious Kitchen in Nashville, replicating the Turning Green program dedicated to a systematic transformation of school dining from conventional to FLOSN (fresh, local, organic, and non-GMO) food in one of the nation’s largest food deserts. I believe that when students have the opportunity to eat healthy food and nourish their bodies, they have the fuel to go out into this world and create lasting change, too.
Edith Wharton once said, “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” Before PGC, I embodied the essence of a candle, and by the end of the experience, I became a mirror. I learned how to reflect the passion, the light, of positive change into the hearts of those around me. The power of the ripple effect unfolded, and I saw the miraculous all around me. The ideas generated, connections made, and kindnesses spread made me realize how truly blessed I am to be a part of a group of conscious global citizens that want to inform, inspire, and mobilize people to start living a conscious lifestyle. This journey has been a true gift.
Every student should participate in Project Green Challenge. The knowledge and resources that I gained are immeasurably powerful. PGC changed my life. Participate in the challenge and have a friend do it with you. It will be inspiring, meaningful, and empowering. I promise.