Project Green Challenge: Moving From Conventional to Conscious
Megan Fuerst is a sophomore at Ohio State University, and last year’s runner-up for Project Green Challenge, a 30-day eco-lifestyle initiative for students globally. Megan is majoring in Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability with a concentration in Policy Analysis. She hopes to use this degree to help the re-legalization of industrial hemp in the U.S. and to create more environmentally-friendly policies among major corporations.
I grew up in Chardon, Ohio, surrounded by the Holden Arboretum. As a child, this meant I had acres and acres of woods, rivers and fields to explore. I was raised to love the outdoors and everything Mother Nature had to offer. However, it wasn’t until participating in Project Green Challenge 2013 during my freshman year of college that I learned the many ways my beloved Mother Nature was in danger and how my lifestyle was only adding to her decline.
Last year I was a freshman at Ohio State University, one of the largest universities in the country, undeclared in a major and feeling lost. I decided to join a few clubs on campus in order to meet people, most importantly the Students For Recycling club. As it turned out, joining this particular club, where I am now the webmaster, was the single best decision of my life, because it introduced me to Project Green Challenge (PGC) and Teens Turning Green. PGC is a 30-day eco lifestyle competition during the month of October. Each day has a unique, sustainability-related theme, with awesome prizes everyday, as well as an incredible grand prize worth more than $12,000.
By the end of the first day of PGC, I was hooked. After just one day I had learned more that I had ever imagined! Day 1 was the “body” challenge, and I realized that I had never actually thought about what I was putting onto and into my body. That was all the wake-up call I needed. After watching Annie Leonard’s Story on Cosmetics [watch below] I couldn’t understand how people could just buy any product without even wondering about the ingredients. At the same time, I knew that I was just as guilty as the next person. This made me eager to, first, buy new products, and second, to inform the world about this cycle of consumerism and big business.
Throughout the month, I learned more about the three major components of being green (reduce, recycle and reuse) in more depth than I ever thought possible. Reducing involved more than simply not throwing away as much stuff. It included conserving water, watching my meat intake to reduce agricultural farm waste and pollution, and not buying into hot new items. I understood the importance of reusing and instantly worked towards eliminating plastics from my life, especially plastic bags while grocery shopping. Finally, PGC taught me that recycling is more than just throwing my plastic water bottles in the blue bin rather than the black one. I discovered the term “upcycle” and I learned how to work toward a life of zero waste.
The beauty of PGC is that it works. It helped me find my perfect path in life, and gave me all the resources and motivation I needed to move forward in the sustainability movement. I went from being lost and uncertain to declaring a major with absolute commitment in just one month. Most importantly, Project Green Challenge made sure to emphasize the importance of spreading the word. What good is all this knowledge if I can’t share it and create change with it? I gained a newfound confidence through PGC because I had this awesome team of eco-superstars supporting me.
PGC is a lot of work. But, you soon discover that the work is worth it! Teens Turning Green has exceptional incentives to keep students motivated. By doing well on a challenge, you could receive an incredible package full of eco-products such as body care items, stainless steel water bottles, food, reusable containers and more. I even got a yoga mat as a prize one day! Every action is rewarded, and the result is a large team of newfound activists.
I was lucky enough to be a finalist and was flown out to the PGC Finals, a three-day eco-summit in San Francisco at the end of November. It was the experience of a lifetime. I listened to amazing speakers talk about their contributions to the world of sustainability, ate fresh, local and organic meals, modeled ethically produced clothing and created my very own perfume from organic oils. The summit ended with presentations from the finalists, and I couldn’t believe my ears when I was named the PGC 2013 Runner-Up. It has led to a whole new chapter of beautiful experiences.
At its core, PGC has one major goal, and that is to create positive change for our planet. This change might take place in your own life, your school or your community, but one thing is certain: you will not come out the same person you were when you started. You will become more informed and conscious, ready to take on the world and set out to fix every problem you encounter. For me, PGC was the start to a life of purpose, responsibility and activism. Sign up for this year’s challenge and I’m willing to bet it will do the same for you.
YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE
New fossils uncovered in Argentina may belong to one of the largest animals to have walked on Earth.
- Groundbreaking Fossil Shows Prehistoric 15-Foot Reptile Tried to ... ›
- Skull of Smallest Known Dinosaur Found in 99-Million-Year Old Amber ›
- Giant 'Toothed' Birds Flew Over Antarctica 40 Million Years Ago ... ›
- World's Second-Largest Egg Found in Antarctica Probably Hatched ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
- Pruitt Guts the Clean Power Plan: How Weak Will the New EPA ... ›
- It's Official: Trump Administration to Repeal Clean Power Plan ... ›
- 'Deadly' Clean Power Plan Replacement ›
By Jonathan Runstadler and Kaitlin Sawatzki
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers have found coronavirus infections in pet cats and dogs and in multiple zoo animals, including big cats and gorillas. These infections have even happened when staff were using personal protective equipment.
- Gorillas in San Diego Test Positive for Coronavirus - EcoWatch ›
- Wildlife Rehabilitators Are Overwhelmed During the Pandemic. In ... ›
- Coronavirus Pandemic Linked to Destruction of Wildlife and World's ... ›
- Utah Mink Becomes First Wild Animal to Test Positive for Coronavirus ›
By Peter Giger
The speed and scale of the response to COVID-19 by governments, businesses and individuals seems to provide hope that we can react to the climate change crisis in a similarly decisive manner - but history tells us that humans do not react to slow-moving and distant threats.
A Game of Jenga<p>Think of it as a game of Jenga and the planet's climate system as the tower. For generations, we have been slowly removing blocks. But at some point, we will remove a pivotal block, such as the collapse of one of the major global ocean circulation systems, for example the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), that will cause all or part of the global climate system to fall into a planetary emergency.</p><p>But worse still, it could cause runaway damage: Where the tipping points form a domino-like cascade, where breaching one triggers breaches of others, creating an unstoppable shift to a radically and swiftly changing climate.</p><p>One of the most concerning tipping points is mass methane release. Methane can be found in deep freeze storage within permafrost and at the bottom of the deepest oceans in the form of methane hydrates. But rising sea and air temperatures are beginning to thaw these stores of methane.</p><p>This would release a powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, 30-times more potent than carbon dioxide as a global warming agent. This would drastically increase temperatures and rush us towards the breach of other tipping points.</p><p>This could include the acceleration of ice thaw on all three of the globe's large, land-based ice sheets – Greenland, West Antarctica and the Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica. The potential collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet is seen as a key tipping point, as its loss could eventually <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/324/5929/901" target="_blank">raise global sea levels by 3.3 meters</a> with important regional variations.</p><p>More than that, we would be on the irreversible path to full land-ice melt, causing sea levels to rise by up to 30 meters, roughly at the rate of two meters per century, or maybe faster. Just look at the raised beaches around the world, at the last high stand of global sea level, at the end of the Pleistocene period around 120,0000 years ago, to see the evidence of such a warm world, which was just 2°C warmer than the present day.</p>
Cutting Off Circulation<p>As well as devastating low-lying and coastal areas around the world, melting polar ice could set off another tipping point: a disablement to the AMOC.</p><p>This circulation system drives a northward flow of warm, salty water on the upper layers of the ocean from the tropics to the northeast Atlantic region, and a southward flow of cold water deep in the ocean.</p><p>The ocean conveyor belt has a major effect on the climate, seasonal cycles and temperature in western and northern Europe. It means the region is warmer than other areas of similar latitude.</p><p>But melting ice from the Greenland ice sheet could threaten the AMOC system. It would dilute the salty sea water in the north Atlantic, making the water lighter and less able or unable to sink. This would slow the engine that drives this ocean circulation.</p><p><a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/atlantic-conveyor-belt-has-slowed-15-per-cent-since-mid-twentieth-century" target="_blank">Recent research</a> suggests the AMOC has already weakened by around 15% since the middle of the 20th century. If this continues, it could have a major impact on the climate of the northern hemisphere, but particularly Europe. It may even lead to the <a href="https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/handle/10871/39731?show=full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cessation of arable farming</a> in the UK, for instance.</p><p>It may also reduce rainfall over the Amazon basin, impact the monsoon systems in Asia and, by bringing warm waters into the Southern Ocean, further destabilize ice in Antarctica and accelerate global sea level rise.</p>
The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation has a major effect on the climate. Praetorius (2018)
Is it Time to Declare a Climate Emergency?<p>At what stage, and at what rise in global temperatures, will these tipping points be reached? No one is entirely sure. It may take centuries, millennia or it could be imminent.</p><p>But as COVID-19 taught us, we need to prepare for the expected. We were aware of the risk of a pandemic. We also knew that we were not sufficiently prepared. But we didn't act in a meaningful manner. Thankfully, we have been able to fast-track the production of vaccines to combat COVID-19. But there is no vaccine for climate change once we have passed these tipping points.</p><p><a href="https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-risks-report-2021" target="_blank">We need to act now on our climate</a>. Act like these tipping points are imminent. And stop thinking of climate change as a slow-moving, long-term threat that enables us to kick the problem down the road and let future generations deal with it. We must take immediate action to reduce global warming and fulfill our commitments to the <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Paris Agreement</a>, and build resilience with these tipping points in mind.</p><p>We need to plan now to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, but we also need to plan for the impacts, such as the ability to feed everyone on the planet, develop plans to manage flood risk, as well as manage the social and geopolitical impacts of human migrations that will be a consequence of fight or flight decisions.</p><p>Breaching these tipping points would be cataclysmic and potentially far more devastating than COVID-19. Some may not enjoy hearing these messages, or consider them to be in the realm of science fiction. But if it injects a sense of urgency to make us respond to climate change like we have done to the pandemic, then we must talk more about what has happened before and will happen again.</p><p>Otherwise we will continue playing Jenga with our planet. And ultimately, there will only be one loser – us.</p>
By John R. Platt
The period of the 45th presidency will go down as dark days for the United States — not just for the violent insurgency and impeachment that capped off Donald Trump's four years in office, but for every regressive action that came before.
- Biden Announces $2 Trillion Climate and Green Recovery Plan ... ›
- How Biden and Kerry Can Rebuild America's Climate Leadership ... ›
- Biden's EPA Pick Michael Regan Urged to Address Environmental ... ›
- How Joe Biden's Climate Plan Compares to the Green New Deal ... ›