14 Passionate Young Leaders Inspiring a Just and Thriving Planet
It’s hard to believe 30 days of this invigorating and mobilizing global challenge has come to an end. For the past five years, the Bay Area-based non-profit Turning Green has hosted this worldwide competition, Project Green Challenge (PGC). Its goal is to inform, inspire and mobilize, to create a global call to action for college and high school students inspiring the transition from conventional to conscious living.
PGCer's protesting to get organic milk in Starbucks. Photo credit: Project Green Challenge
PGC engages youth by uniting them in a commitment to cultivate a healthy, just and thriving planet. PGC is comprised of 30 sustainability-themed challenges, focused on topics relevant to our daily lives including food, zero waste, fair trade, body and non-genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). There are up to four challenge opportunities at varying levels of engagement. Participants received points based upon completing the challenges and the top 20 daily submissions were awarded prizes.
Since its inception in 2011, PGC has given tens of thousands of powerful, dynamic, passionate young leaders from around the world an opportunity to step up to "be the change" in their own lives, on school campuses and in local communities.
Today, we are very proud to announce the PGC Class of 2015 finalists representing a tremendous display of student transformation and activism. This remarkable group of 14 young adults hail from high schools and universities across the U.S., as well as one team from the Netherlands, 50 Shades of Green. As the latter put it: "In one month, I have learned so much about the world. PGC was like an additional subject, learning about life and the impacts of the things we do, to nature and human health. It is incredible, to think back and realize that my knowledge expanded heavily–more than any other subject taught me in one month."
Finalist Megan from San Diego, celebrating the prize package she earned. Photo credit: Project Green Challenge
Another student finalist, Marina Qutab of University of Massachusetts Amherst, proclaimed, “[I’ve] learned that I am determined and nothing is going to stop me from changing the world.”
These students and their fellow finalists will be flown to San Francisco in late November to attend the PGC Finals, a three-day eco summit where they will have the opportunity to interact with esteemed environmental leaders, present their experiences from the 30-day Challenge and work together to create innovative platforms for social action. Past speakers have included: Annie Leonard, president and founder of the Story of Stuff Project and the current executive director of Greenpeace; Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group; Adam Werbach, co-founder of yerdle.com; Gavin Newsom, Lt. Gov. of California; and many more.
Finalist Missy, from Belmont University. Photo credit: Project Green Challenge
Based on presentations by the finalists, a panel of judges will select the Project Green Challenge Champion. The winner will receive a one-of-a-kind grand prize package worth more than $12,000, including a $5,000 Green Award from title sponsor Acure, as well as the opportunity to work with Turning Green and its partners in the coming year.
Finalists were asked to describe their experience in 5 words. Photo credit: Project Green Challenge
Here are some profound words from an incredible group of young and mobilized leaders:
- "Project Green Challenge took my knowledge of environmental subjects, expanded on it, propelled me to action and helped me share what I learned with friends and acquaintances in creative ways so that they could also take action." —Claire, George Washington University, Washington, DC
- "My school's food system isn't transparent, so until I know exactly where my food is coming from, I'm responsible for packing my own organic and vegan lunch, bringing my reusable silverware utensils and reusing cloth lunch bags and napkins. My peers, seeing me make changes in my own lifestyle, want to join me in being sustainable. We care about preserving the Earth." —Kendra, Jericho High School, Jericho, NY
- “I was also shocked to learn about the toxins in our everyday products such as my bed sheets! You spend a third of your life in your bed and for your sheets to contribute to health problems is completely ridiculous. After learning that from the Space challenge I have invested in 100 percent organic cotton sheets and have never slept better!" —Julie, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois
- "During the challenge month we were more conscious of our resource usage and carbon footprints so we made some changes to our electricity usage. Since the weather is fantastic in the Ozark Mountains during October, we turned the AC off and just opened the windows for almost the whole month. Our electricity bill dropped from $55 to $28.” —Greatful Deadheaders, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas
- "To say that I learned a lot this month is not even the tip of the iceberg. In some very important ways, I’ve transformed. I’ve started looking deliberately at my actions, and noting ways in which I can be the change, even if it will take time and sacrifices." —Reilly, Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, Ohio
- "The whole experience as a PGC participant made me do things that I had never done before in my life. For example, I managed to conduct a great interview with the owner of a sustainable restaurant, even though I was so nervous I thought could faint. I had great conversations with farmers discussing the importance of sustainable agriculture. I excluded 95 percent of meat from my diet and as a result discovered new food, like lentils, which are a great source of protein." —Valeria, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- "Before PGC, I didn’t think there was anything else I could do to make my lifestyle more environmentally friendly. Boy was I wrong! I now know that I can save the environment by choosing specific cleaning products, cosmetics, foods, clothing, furniture, etc. As I have completed the PGC challenges and started doing things differently in more sustainable ways, people have also started to notice and ask questions. I now have the knowledge and confidence I need to answer these questions and further promote positive lifestyle changes!" —Tracey, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
Fifteen states are in for an unusually noisy spring.
- Millions of Cicadas Set to Emerge After 17 Years Underground ... ›
- Cicadas Show Up 4 Years Early - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Deep in the woods, a hairy, ape-like man is said to be living a quiet and secluded life. While some deny the creature's existence, others spend their lives trying to prove it.
- Why Hunting Isn't Conservation, and Why It Matters - Rewilding ›
- Decline In Hunters Threatens How U.S. Pays For Conservation : NPR ›
- Is Hunting Conservation? Let's examine it closely ›
- Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation | Oklahoma ... ›
- Oklahoma Bill Calls for Bigfoot Hunting Season | Is Bigfoot Real? ›
By Jon Queally
Noted author and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben was among the first to celebrate word that the president of the European Investment Bank on Wednesday openly declared, "To put it mildly, gas is over" — an admission that squares with what climate experts and economists have been saying for years if not decades.
- Fossil Fuel Industry Is Now 'in the Death Knell Phase': CNBC's Jim ... ›
- Mayors of 12 Major Global Cities Pledge Fossil Fuel Divestment ... ›
- World's Largest Public Bank Ditches Oil and Coal in Victory for the ... ›
Nine feet tall is gigantic by human standards, but when researcher and conservationist Michael Brown spotted a giraffe in Uganda's Murchison Falls National Park that measured nine feet, four inches, he was shocked.
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="54af350ee3a2950e0e5e69d926a55d83"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/yf4NRKzzTFk?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
- Giraffe Parts Sold Across U.S. Despite Plummeting Wild Populations ... ›
- Green Groups Sue to Get Giraffes on Endangered Species List ... ›
- Conservationists Sound Alarm on Plummeting Giraffe Numbers ... ›
By Daisy Simmons
1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
- 5 Ways to Be an Eco-Friendly Pet Owner - EcoWatch ›
- Can Your Pets Get and Transmit Coronavirus? - EcoWatch ›