University of North Texas freshman Alyssa Wolverton is passionate about changing how people think about the environment.
“The environment is something everyone should agree on because everyone is using it,” the 18-year-old said.
Wolverton is currently participating in Project Green Challenge, a 30-day eco-lifestyle challenge, with more than 2,000 other high school and college students.
The project is to encourage students to be conscious of their lifestyle and learn that even the small choices they make can change the world, said Judi Shils, founder and director of Teens Turning Green, the organization behind the project.
The idea is to take 30 themes relevant to young people and give them an opportunity to understand these issues and how they can apply them to their lives, she said.
The challenges were created to make them stop and think about everyday life — from body care to paper to food.
“It’s so easy to transition and effect change,” Shils said.
Each day of October, Wolverton and the other participants receive three challenges related to the day’s theme and they can decide which ones they want to complete.
Wolverton said she tries to do all of the challenges each day as well as the extra credit that is offered some days.
The challenge is available for 24 hours and then it disappears.
“We encourage kids to think about what they’re doing every day,” Shils said.
The whole body challenge is the one that has the most impact, she said. Students assume someone is watching out for them, but it shows them they have to understand for themselves the implications of what they’re bringing into their lives, she said.
“Each day the kids have different opportunities to really integrate what they’re really learning into their lives,” Shils said.
The challenge ends Oct. 30 and then the finalists will be chosen to attend the eco-summit in San Francisco at the end of November.
“Each challenge stretches them a little beyond their box,” Shils said. “It encourages them to talk to their school leaders.”
It also encourages them to be change makers, she said, and it empowers them.
As the month-long project nears the end, Wolverton remains at the top of the leader board.
One of her winning entries was the whole body challenge, in which she had to see what ingredients were in the products she uses each day and determine how many are harmful.
She also won the school profile challenge, in which she had to find an area where she could affect change on campus and decided to focus on eco-friendly backpacks.
Because Wolverton is a freshman, she’s still narrowing down what she wants to study. Right now, she is planning to study radio, television and film as well as political science.
“Some of the things that impacted me are film,” she said.
She also wants be involved in policy making, which is why she is also studying political science.
“If you change people’s minds, then you change the way they look at their water and they waste less water,” she said.
The daily challenges have been time consuming on top of her school schedule, she said.
Shils and the rest of the members of the organization enjoy reading what the students come up with each day.
Shils said Wolverton has gone above and beyond in the challenges.
“It obviously really matters to her and her life,” she said.
RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
ON THE WEB:
Project Green Challenge: http://www.projectgreenchallenge.com/