By Juliet Slutzker
When I was first asked to volunteer for the Conscious College Road Tour, I didn’t know what to expect. A new member of my Energy Corps AmeriCorps program had just started at the University of Montana’s sustainability office the week before, and I wanted to help him get off to a good start by assisting with this event. Plus, it seemed like a fun way to get out of the office for a day.
Juliet and CCRT made the homepage of University of Montana’s website!
As the Sustainability and Habitat Educator serving with the National Wildlife Federation in Missoula, I consider myself to be a fairly environmentally conscious person. Through NWF’s Eco-Schools USA program, I talk with educators about ways to engage their students in making their schools, homes, and communities more sustainable. However, when I arrived the morning of the Turning Green event to help set up, I realized that I had a ways to go if I was to truly practice what I preach.
“I realized that I had a ways to go if I was to truly practice what I preach”
The event was set up with six tables: space, zero waste, body & wellness, style, food, and clean. Each table displayed products from brands that are safe for human use, ethically produced, and that are not harmful to the environment. A few of the brands I had heard of before; Annie’s (love that mac & cheese), Dr. Bronner’s, and Klean Kanteen were all companies that I recognized for their eco-conscious products. I was assigned the body & wellness table, and had very little prior knowledge of conscious brands in this realm going into the event. Not only did volunteering for the Conscious College Road Tour teach me about what I am putting in and on my body—like the disturbing fact that cosmetic products and ingredients do not need FDA pre-market approval—it also introduced me to new brands like Acure and EO Products. Now that I know that my usual toiletries may not be the most conducive to conscious living, I am heading straight for the local the health food store when I need to replenish my products.
Beyond the knowledge I gained from volunteering at this event, I was also able to interact with dozens of University of Montana students. Many visitors to our event were just as unaware as I was about all of the actions they could take to lead healthier, more eco-friendly lives. Conversations with these students at the Conscious College town hall session later in the evening about ideas to improve their campus inspired me. I was reminded how much my generation cares. We care about the health and safety of our fellow people and about the future of our planet. After seeing so many of my peers who care just as much as I do, I left the Conscious College Road Tour refreshed and eager to continue to improve the health of our communities and the natural world for future generations.
Juliet Slutzker is an AmeriCorps member serving with the National Wildlife Federation in their Missoula, MT office as the Sustainability and Habitat Educator. She is working on expanding the Eco-Schools USA program in Montana as well as certifying Missoula as Montana’s first Community Wildlife Habitat. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and earned a Master’s degree in Biology in 2015 from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. In her free time, Juliet enjoys running and exploring the outdoors in her new home of Montana!