I am the proud co-founder of Turning Green, a national non-profit organization devoted to education and advocacy around environmentally sustainable and socially responsible choices for individuals, schools, and communities. Our student-led movement seeks to promote global sustainability by identifying and eliminating toxic exposures that permeate our lives, often unknowingly, yet threaten public and environmental health. What began around my kitchen table in 2005 now has a presence at numerous middle and high schools, universities, and student organizations across the country, as well as a strong virtual platform and media presence. The TTG chapters lead grassroots efforts that aim to raise awareness and work to lessen local and global impact through a number of programs.
The lifestyle component includes cosmetics and personal care products (Project Green Spa, formulations, packaging), fashion (Project Green Prom, REstyled, organic/sustainable fiber, manufacturing), home (Project Green Dorm, Project Green Space, materials, bedding), among many other aspects of daily life. We believe that conscious consumption is critical and has the power to shift mass markets – working to transition mindsets from conventional to conscious (year-round, on our Conscious College Road Tour, and with Project Green Challenge). Our work with schools uses the campus as a palette for exploration through a process of inventory, case study analysis, and identification of greener alternatives in four main categories: landscape, janitorial (Project Green Clean), food service (The Conscious Kitchen, Eco Top Chef and Project Lunch), and classroom products. The community piece of the campaign allows for grassroots efforts and formation of coalitions around area-specific issues that threaten human and environmental health, examples of which include fighting for the Right To Know (non GMO, labeling standards and disclosure), protesting proposed aerial sprays, pushing for single use bag bans (BYOBag), promoting safe cell phone use, water testing, mapping county-wide health trends, removing invasive species, and much more.
I have witnessed first hand the power of young people around these issues – and see a real need to focus energy around personal responsibility and individual local actions: think globally, act locally. It is vital to demonstrate how accessible sustainability is to everyone, for there are near innumerable entry points. We have experienced incredibly positive public response to simple educational resources. Any and all progress is rooted in education, particularly of youth, and communication; when information is available and alternatives are accessible, people think critically and initiate change.
Advocacy is another vital aspect of our campaign, lobbying for legislative and policy change that protects human and environmental health, as well as partnerships with companies to urge and ensure corporate responsibility. We must challenge large entities to consider not only pure formulation and full ingredient disclosure, but also responsible sourcing of ingredients, business practices that respect the earth, fair trade labor policies, human and animal rights, community empowerment projects, sustainable packaging (post-consumer waste, biocompostable, etc.), renewable energy, and incorporation of a Cradle-to-Cradle approach towards an endless cycle without waste.
All of my work furthers a (not-so-simple) personal mission: to inspire a generation of conscious citizens and bring about global health for the environment and its inhabitants.
Check turninggreen.org, browse campaign microsites, chat on social media and join the movement!