Project Green Challenge inspires teens all over the world to be more sustainable


Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

Raya Haghverdi, Staff Writer

If you’ve been keeping up with your environmentally conscious friends recently, you may have noticed that some of them had quite a competitive October. Running from Oct. 1 to Oct. 30, Project Green Challenge has taken the lives of South’s environmental activists by storm.

PGC, an initiative run by Turning Green, a youth-led movement dedicated to environmental advocacy, consists of 30 daily challenges aimed at inspiring and informing high school students, helping them gain the knowledge and experience necessary to lead change in their communities. 

This year’s challenges had multiple themes centered around the environment, including zero waste, social justice, biodiversity, and fashion. They were sent to participants every day at 6 a.m. Pacific Time, requiring them to complete various tasks such as uploading videos and pictures on the PGC site and  social media. For completing the daily challenge, participants received points based on which category they completed the task in: Green, Greener, and Greenest. The greener a person was, the more points they received. Some participants even received prizes from the companies that sponsored challenges, like stainless steel straws and environmentally friendly cosmetic and hygiene products.

Project Green Challenge will be hosting a four-day summit for finalists in San Francisco, California, featuring speakers who lead various organizations devoted to environmental advocacy. The event will take place from Nov. 20-24, with the winner of the challenge being announced on Nov. 24. 

Two South students made the PGC finals: juniors Josephine Sparks and Rowan Stalnaker.

According to Stalnaker, the challenge was quite intense.

“The process really impacted my schedule. My sleep was especially impacted, and depending on my workload from school and the challenge, I stayed up as late as three or four,” said Stalnaker. 

In an interview with Project Green Challenge, Stalnaker further detailed memorable moments during the 30-day challenge.

“‘For me, the most memorable aspect of this year’s Project Green Challenge was the adventure challenge… I asked my friend if she wanted to carpool to a nature preserve with me, when we arrived, I felt kind of hopeless, like I was wasting time, but after only five minutes of hiking, I was smiling with a mind clear of stress. After more than three hours of exploration and observation, I was out of the hole and motivated to push through my [school] workload.’”

In the same interview, Stalnaker described the impact of Project Green Challenge on his life and his goals moving forward.

“‘I am inspired to help lead this generation in the fight for comprehensive climate policy and reform, and I plan to pursue this goal both in high school, college, and my future work.’”

Senior Andy Chang, whose team with senior Roma Matharu ranked 22nd internationally, had a favorite challenge: Food Waste.

“Food waste was a fun challenge because [I] got to collect trash and see how much waste [I] could collect on a daily basis. It was more than I expected. It was pretty shocking to see how much of it could be recycled in the cafeteria but couldn’t [be] because of [the] lack of recycling bins,” said Chang.

Matharu also enjoyed her experience with Project Green Challenge, partly because of the impact it has had on her and her family.

“I learned a lot from it. It [gave] me insight on aspects of the environment I had no idea existed. It [also] impacted my family [because] I shared with them things that I had learned. It helped us make better choices,” said Matharu.