Students #ChangeTheWorld in 30 Days
Turning Green’s, Project Green Challenge (PGC) initiative mobilizes thousands of high school and college students worldwide each year to transition their lifestyles, practices and mindsets from conventional to conscious through simple and impactful daily actions.
Celebrating its fifth year, this 30-day eco-lifestyle initiative runs through the month of October to empower students to actively change their worldview. PGC incentivizes participants with a grand prize package valued at more than $12,000, including the Acure Green Award for $5,000, $1000 gift card to Whole Foods Market and other eco-fabulous opportunities. You can sign up here.
Since its start in 2011, PGC has actively engaged 20,000+ students representing more than 1400 campuses, in 50 states and 45 countries (with a social media reach of 31.5 million). Hosted by Bay Area-based non-profit Turning Green, PGC asks students to complete challenges every day in October focused on sustainability-related themes from food to fashion, zero waste to fair trade and body to economics. Over the course of 30 days, participants share responses, experiences and deliverables on the PGC digital platform and Turning Green’s social platforms to acquire points and compete for daily prize packages awarded to 20 outstanding submissions.
“Once I became aware of the impact my lifestyle was having on the planet, there was no going back,” said Megan Fuerst, a junior at Ohio State University and president of the Turning Green student advisory board. “PGC taught me that change is not only possible, but crucial. I realized that as a student, consumer, voter and global citizen, I had more power than I ever thought possible. I began to use my voice and my dollars to create a world that could thrive in a socially and environmentally just manner.”
Fuerst had this to say about the challenge:
Thirty days was all it took to change my life forever. In 2013, I was one of the thousands of students who participated in Project Green Challenge. In one month, I transformed from an average American consumer to a conscious, engaged and active leader. It was the most eye-opening experience of my life, and I believe that if every student in the world participated in PGC, we could heal the planet tomorrow.
Like most young adults, I felt lost and overwhelmed from the pressure of choosing a career path at age 18. PGC was the first step towards finding my passion, and is truly unique because it relates to all of our daily lives. PGC offers opportunities to learn about a wide variety of topics in a simple and straightforward way. No matter who you are or where you live, PGC is relevant, because sustaining a healthy planet for future generations is the responsibility of each of us as global citizens.
Whether you are a freshman in high school or a senior in college, you will learn something new every day. Participants are challenged to calculate their water and carbon footprints, research harmful ingredients hidden in conventional products, really think about the food we consume and so much more. Once I became aware of the way my lifestyle was impacting the planet, there was no going back. What had started as a fun challenge in hopes of making it to San Francisco for the PGC Finals, turned into a life mission to heal the planet.
As I continued on my PGC journey, I realized that change is not only possible, but also vital. I learned that as a student, consumer, and voter, I had more power than I ever thought possible. This is not taught in a typical course curriculum. Turning Green provided the mentorship and tools necessary for me to start being the change I wished to see in the world.
The introductions to each topic gives participants enough information to become truly informed, and the challenges that follow help mobilize students around the issues they learn about. It really is the full package; information followed by a call to action, providing solutions for each problem presented. PGC’s success can also be attributed in part to the amazing prize packages that are given out daily to incentivize students and award outstanding submissions. Participants can win anything from non-GMO food to hemp clothing and organic bedding to yoga mats. All prizes are donated by Turning Green’s partners, who are leading the corporate realm of sustainability with their ethical and ecofriendly products. There is no other program in the world that has the capacity to inform, inspire and mobilize students as quickly as PGC.
The challenge culminates with the PGC Challenge Finals. Up to16 finalists are selected from the global pool to attend the three-day eco-summit in San Francisco where they collaborate with esteemed environmental leaders, develop strong platforms for social action and present their 30-day PGC experiences to a panel of judges. One finalist will be selected as the PGC 2015 Champion and receive a grand prize package to jumpstart their transition from conventional to conscious.
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"These are not just wildfires, they are climate fires," Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State, said as he stood amid the charred remains of the town of Malden west of Seattle earlier this month. "This is not an act of God," he added. "This has happened because we have changed the climate of the state of Washington in dramatic ways."
'These Aren't Wildfires'<p>Sam Ricketts, who led climate policy and strategy for Governor Jay Inslee's 2020 presidential campaign, tweeted on September 11 that "These aren't wildfires. These are #climatefires, driven by fossil fuel pollution."</p><p>"The rate and the strength and the devastation wrought by these disasters are fueled by climate change," Ricketts told DW of fires that have burnt well over 5 million acres across California, Oregon, Washington State, and into neighboring Idaho. </p><p>In a two-day period in early September, Ricketts notes that more of Washington State burned than in almost any entire fire season until now, apart from 2015. </p><p>California, meanwhile, was a tinderbox after its hottest summer on record, with temperatures in Death Valley reaching nearly 130 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the U.S. National Weather Service. It has been reported as the hottest temperature ever measured on Earth.</p>
<div id="29ad9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8346fe7350e1371d400097cd48bf45a2"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1306969603180879872" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Drought-parched wetlands in South America have been burning for weeks. https://t.co/pjAKdFcKPg #Pantanal https://t.co/ImN2C5vwcp</div> — NASA Earth (@NASA Earth)<a href="https://twitter.com/NASAEarth/statuses/1306969603180879872">1600440810.0</a></blockquote></div><p>As evidenced by Australia's apocalyptic Black Summer of 2019-2020, fires are burning bigger and for longer, with new records set year-on-year. Right now, Brazil's vast and highly biodiverse Pantanal wetlands are suffering from catastrophic fires.</p>
#climatefires Started in Australia<p>Governor Inslee this month invoked the phrase climate fires for arguably the first time in the U.S., according to Ricketts.</p><p>But the term was also used as fires burnt out of control in Australia in late 2019. In the face of a 2000km (more than 1,200 miles) fire front, and government officials and media who <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/trump-climate-change-denial-emissions-environment-germany-fake-heartland-seibt/a-52688933" target="_blank">played down the link to climate change</a>, Greens Party Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and a friend decided that reference to bushfires was inadequate. </p><p>"We both just said, we've got to start calling them climate fires, that's what they are," the Australian Senator told DW.</p><p>Hanson-Young says scientists have been warning for decades that these would be the effects of global heating. "We've been told these kinds of extreme weather events and destruction is what climate change would look like, and it's right here on our doorstep," she said from her home state of South Australia — where by early September fire warnings had already been issued.</p><p>"Calling them climate fires was making it absolutely crystal clear. It is essential that there's no ambiguity," she said </p><p>Having deliberately invoked the term, Hanson-Young soon started to push it on social media via a #climatefires hashtag. </p>
How to Talk About the Urgency of Global Heating<p>The need to use more explicit language when talking about extreme weather events linked to climate change is part of a broader push to express the urgency of global heating. In 2019, activist Greta Thunberg tweeted that the term "climate change" did not reflect the seriousness of the situation. </p><p>"Can we all now please stop saying 'climate change' and instead call it what it is: climate breakdown, climate crisis, climate emergency, ecological breakdown, ecological crisis and ecological emergency?" she wrote. </p><p>"Climate change has for a long time been talked about as something that is a danger in the future," said Hansen-Young. "But the consequences are already here. When people hear the word crisis, they understand that something has to happen, that action has to be taken."</p><p><span></span>Some terms are now used in public policy, with state and national governments, and indeed the EU Parliament, declaring an official climate emergency in the last year. </p>
Words That Reflect the Science<p>But while the West Coast governors all fervently link the fires to an unfolding climate crisis, U.S. President Donald Trump continues to avoid any reference to climate. In a briefing about the fires, he responded to overtures by Wade Crowfoot, California's Natural Resources Secretary, to work with the states on the climate crisis by stating: "It'll start getting cooler. You just watch." Crowfoot replied by saying that scientists disagreed. Trump rejoined with "I don't think science knows, actually." </p><p>It was reminiscent of the anti-science approach to the coronavirus pandemic within the Trump administration, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/donald-trump-admits-playing-down-coronavirus-risks/a-54874350" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">at least publicly</a>. Fossil fuel companies are also benefiting from his disavowal of climate science, with the Trump administration having <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/opinion-trumps-paris-climate-accord-exit-isnt-really-a-problem/a-51124958" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pulled out of the Paris Agreement</a> and reopened fossil fuel infrastructure like the Keystone XL pipeline. </p><p>But the science community has responded, with Scientific American magazine endorsing Trump's Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden, the first presidential endorsement in its 175-year history. </p><p>Hanson-Young says the use of explicit language like climate fires has also been important in Australia due to the climate denialism of politicians and the press, especially in publications owned by Rupert Murdoch. As fires burnt out much of Australia's southeast coast, they were commonly blamed on arson — a tactic also recently used in the U.S.</p>
Climate Rhetoric Could Help Decide Election<p>The language of climate has begun to influence the U.S. presidential election campaign, with Democratic nominee Joe Biden labelling President Trump a "climate arsonist."</p><p>Biden is touting a robust climate plan that includes a 2050 zero emissions target and a return to the Paris Agreement. Though lacking the ambition of The New Green Deal, it has been front and center of his policy platform in recent days, at a time when five hurricanes are battering the U.S. Gulf Coast while smoke blanketing the West Coast spreads all the way to the East. </p><p>People are experiencing the climate crisis in a visceral way and almost universally relate to the language of an emergency, says Ricketts. "They know something is wrong."</p>
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