We could all learn a lesson from University of North Texas freshman Alyssa Wolverton. The 18-year-old — who says she is passionate about changing how people think about the environment — recently put her passion to work by participating in Project Green Challenge, a 30-day eco-lifestyle challenge, with more than 2,000 other high school and college students.
The challenge, which ended Tuesday, was designed to encourage students to be conscious of their lifestyles and learn that even small choices can change the world, according to Judi Shils, founder and director of Teens Turning Green, the organization behind the project.
Our first thought on hearing about the project was that a lot of us talk about improving the environment, but few of us actually bother to try and do anything about it. All too often, we dismiss reports about our growing environmental problems and the need to make lifestyle changes.
Instead of seeing the environmental movement as a cause that deserves universal support — the environment, after all, is one thing we all share — too many of us regard it as a political issue. As a result, we may become divided along party lines and lose sight of what’s really important — the common good.
Or we may believe that there’s really nothing we can do to make a difference — how important, after all, are the small choices we make every day? Rather than assuming personal responsibility for finding solutions, we sit back and wait for someone else to take action.
Thankfully, Wolverton and the other young people involved in Project Green Challenge haven’t adopted a wait-and-see attitude. Their project featured a series of challenges designed to make people stop and think about their everyday lives and the impact their actions have on the environment. As a result, the project encouraged participants to be change makers.
And that’s what we need. Instead of accepting the status quo, we need new ideas for changes that will help make the world a better and healthier place to live and work and raise our families.
We like the approach of Project Green Challenge because it’s simple but effective. It focuses on the individual and how our small choices could make a really big difference.
It’s good to see young people involved in programs like this one, but why limit ourselves? Maybe the folks behind Project Green Challenge can design a project like this one for the rest of us — it might motivate us to do the right thing.
Now that the challenge has ended, finalists will be chosen to attend an eco-summit in San Francisco at the end of November. As the monthlong project neared completion, Wolverton remained at the top of the leader board.
We hope she is chosen as a finalist, but she’s already achieved the distinction of making a difference, and that’s what really counts.
We also hope she continues to pursue her passion and is successful at convincing people to change how they think about the environment, even in small ways.
Small choices can change the world, and thanks to Wolverton and others like her, maybe our past mistakes won’t be repeated.