A Young Ecopreneur’s Green Journey
I am speaking at Green Living's upcoming spring solutions summit and anniversary celebration – and in advance of the event, I had the chance to speak with Green Living Magazine about everything from getting my start to a zero waste lifestyle to how EVERYONE can go more green!
Erin Schrode: A Young Ecopreneur’s Green Journey
by Amanda Harvey
Have you ever wondered about your purpose in life or fantasized about your ultimate dream job? 24-year- old ecopreneur Erin Schrode discovered her passions at a very young age – and ran with it.
Erin recognizes her mother as a major influence in her life choices and career goals. After her mother read an inspiring book when she was pregnant, she wanted to “bring her first child into the healthiest environment possible,” Erin said. “I grew up thinking that was normal, delightfully normal. We carpooled, we drank out of glass water bottles, we went to the farmer’s market every Sunday without fail. Growing up in northern California also helped. There was a lot of energy around the social, eco-conscious way of life.”
This upbringing instilled an eco way of life and passion for Erin, but when she was 11, a study came out that Marin County, where Erin grew up, had the highest breast, melanoma and prostate cancer rates in the world, with no explanation. This spurred Erin’s mother to action and young Erin to speculate. No correlations were found to the local water supply or demographics of people diagnosed. This spurred Erin to wonder: “What is it that we are doing to, in, on, and around our bodies everyday that poses a potential health risk to us?” A few years later, several studies came out that determined chemical ingredients in household beauty products were the culprit.
“I was outraged,” Erin remembers. “I think that’s the beauty and the naivety of youth. You assume someone’s looking out for your health and wellbeing and when you find out that’s not the case, you want to do something; you want to fix it.”
That was the turning point that drove Erin and her mother to create the company that would become Teens Turning Green. They started by focusing on spreading awareness about personal care products and then branched out into other sectors of sustainability.
Now Erin travels the country speaking to children and teens about what they can do to green their lives. “We don’t need more things to do in our day-to-day, we just need to approach the things that we already do from a different angle,” Erin said.
When she was studying abroad in Ghana, one of Erin’s roommates noticed her organic cotton sheets and healthy eating habits. “She said to me one day, ‘Just give me one thing that I can do.’ And I said ok and I gave her one thing and then she came back a couple weeks later and she said, ‘Ok, give me something else,’” Erin said. “When she went home she started asking me questions, ‘What if you did one thing a day? I could do that.’” This motivated Erin to create Project Green Challenge, a 30-day eco lifestyle challenge. Now in its fifth year, the challenge runs from October 1-31. It’s open to high school and college students and is meant to teach them how to transition their lives “from conventional to conscious through simple, fun and high impact daily action.” At the end of the 30 days, Erin says students are not only changed at an individual level, but it also inspires others because their friends and family start to ask questions.
Turning Green is the nonprofit parent of Project Green Challenge, the Conscious College Road Tour (the spring counterpart to Project Green Challenge), and the Conscious Kitchen, a school lunch program current being piloted at schools in California.
“This is how you change the world, working with young people,” Erin said. “But it’s not too late for anybody.”
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