Senior Catalina Lane was named a finalist of the Project Green Challenge, an environmental action competition created by local nonprofit Turning Green, this fall. The challenge aims to “inform, inspire and mobilize high school, college, and grad school students globally, ” according to the organization’s website. Lane was one of 13 out of the approximately five thousand competitors who reached the final stage of the worldwide competition.
“Mr. Ginsburg presented Project Green Challenge to his classes to all his classes,” Lane, who takes AP Environmental Science with Ginsburg.
Students competed in daily challenges for the entire month of October. “Every day there were three challenges– green, greener, and greenest–and sometimes there was extra credit,” Lane said, noting that competitors could compete in all three levels each day, as she tried to do. “Every day for the greener and greenest challenge there would be ten winners and that was the best orr the most toughtout submissions.” Winners would receive prizes from Turning Green’s corporate sponsors such as Cliff Bar and Good Earth. Lane received lots of products including a water bottle and a cookbook.
According to Lane, each day challenges centered around a new theme, such as food waste or soil. “I had to carry around a bag and collect all my trash for food waste,” she said. “I had to seperate receyerleatbees, non repcylerables, and compost.” During the challenge Lane was shocked to learn that the average person creates the 4.6 pounds of trash per day. “Now I’m bringing a glass jar to collect peanuts at Whole Foods,” she said.
Lane really enjoyed the Meatless Monday challenge. “I had to make a meatless burger,” Lane said. “It was really good.”
Lane tried to compete in as many challenges as possible, especially the harder greener and greenest ones, but it was difficult for her as she noted the time consuming nature of the challenges on top of schoolwork and he training for softball season. “I want to study environmental science and the earth is dying so [the project] is important. I never knew most of the stuff I learned about.”
As a result of the challenge, Lane has become more environmentally focused, asking for a compost bin for Christmas, thinks she will soon become a vegetarian, and has “started using better products,” like the ones she received as prizes.
Competitors received points for each challenge they competed, and the total number of points, number of challenge victories, and a final video project were used together to select finalist. Lane didn’t expect to make the finals. “ wanted to get into the finals but I didn’t know [ if I would make it there], ” she said.
The final project was a two minute video, which Lane stayed up until 2 am to finish. “I talked about how it was so inspirational and eye-opening–because it was–and I had to turn that in by 6 am.”
The finalist of the competition were flown out to San Francisco to participate in a four day summit with the organization and its corporate partners. In all there were 13 finalists, with two from out of the country (one from the Netherlands and the other the Philippines) “I love all of them now,” Lane said. “We’re a big family.”
The finalists toured went to green gulch and Muir beach and toured Good Earth and Clif Bar, as well as received even more prizes, such as a bag of shirts, tea, and products from the corporate sponsors. Lane loved the experience. “It was the best four days of my life because it was so inspirational I had never felt more empowered by people because they were saying,” she said. “Everyone that was there was there for us and that we were going to change the world.”
She also noted the sincerity of the organization in general. “It wasn’t fake at all. They were all there for us,” Lane said. “Now Turning Green is behind us to help with internships and working at our schools [to create change].”
In then end, Lane has become much more environmentally conscience. She plans to start composting at Tam and move towards a zero waste campus. She even gets annoyed when she seems someone using a plastic straw.