Your opinions, values and ideas are relevant. Your voice can become a movement and launch a revolution. Your actions can change the present and future of our world.
What if we dared to believe that? As a collective, could we affect the positive change our world so desperately needs?
Well, I have a proposal... and it's called Teens Turning Green. TTG is a student-led movement devoted to education and advocacy around environmentally sustainable and socially responsible choices for individuals, schools, and communities. And it's an organization I co-founded because I believe deeply in the power of my peers to BE the change. TTG seeks to engage youth in the transition from conventional to conscious, empowering the next generation and mobilizing action to sustain our earth.
I was raised to think critically about the world around me and approach everything from a thoughtful mindset; activism, environmentalism, and conscious consumerism were a part of my everyday. As I grew up, I realized that such an aware and engaged lifestyle was far from the norm. People largely walk through life blindly -- without considering the cause and effect of individual or collective actions. But not because of a lack of desire, rather a lack of education. So I set out to activate my generation for good, to bring about that critical mindset shift on a local and global scale. In 2005 at the age of 13, I co-founded Teens Turning Green with my mom -- because apathy or inaction was no longer an option.
Seven and a half years after its launch, TTG continues to grow in leaps and bounds. What began with a focus on safer and healthier choices in personal care and daily use products expanded to include apparel and sustainable fibers, home and space, school materials, cleaning supplies, paper and water and energy... you name it. We create content and develop actionable toolkits around issues relevant to high school and college students -- sometimes extending to reach elementary school kids or an audience of young professionals.
Melting polar ice caps, cap and trade regulations, zero emissions targets -- these pressing challenges are real and imminent, but can seem overly daunting or inexorable. What can I, as a young person, do right now to make the world a more safe, just, sustainable place? This is a key question that my work seeks to address. I have found great success in focusing on simple, fun, accessible and high impact behavioral and lifestyle changes. I seek to be that catalyst to set my peers -- students, teachers, parents, and community members, you name it -- on a more conscious and active path.
We measure success by increased knowledge about the importance of incorporating environmentally sustainable and socially responsible products and practices into daily life; awareness of the significance of individual and collective efforts; observable changes in willingness to adopt healthier and safer habits; familiarity with innovative eco developments; confidence in sharing newfound wisdom and experience; and ability to cooperate and embrace fun, transformative experiences with diverse peer groups.
The opportunities for exploration, learning, and impact in the realm of sustainability are endless. Everyone wants to hop on board: corporations, NGOs, politicians, health professionals, scientists, farmers, education institutions, the world. We must collaborate and harness our power as an articulate, emerging population block and make demands of leaders; let us be rabble-rousers for good. This is a fundamental shift, this revolution -- and it needs you!
If youth are the future, we must lead the charge for positive, collaborative change... and young people are stepping up in cities, towns, and villages worldwide to defy the odds, to achieve the impossible. Beautifully open and eager to charge ahead, we do not fear the unknown or crumble in the face of adversity. Engage, challenge, and partner with young people -- and watch us fly. This vocal, connected generation is embracing active citizenry and more just, sustainable options when given the choice. Health and security for ourselves and the environment begins with small, personal and local action and spreading the word to the masses.
So, where does one begin? Well, I put forth Teens Turning Green as one example of what passion and a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can accomplish. Get involved in any number of our year-round programs! You can even join us this month for Project Green Challenge. Read my Huff Post Green post, "Want to Live Green? Try #PGC2012!," and sign up to be a part of this ever-evolving journey towards a more sustainable, just, millennial-value-driven future.
Follow Erin Schrode on Twitter: www.twitter.com/erinschrode