PGC 2015 Winners



PGC 2015 Champion , Belmont University
Nashville, TN

Edith Wharton once said, “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” Before Project Green Challenge, I embodied the essence of a candle, and by the end of the experience, I became a mirror. I learned how to reflect the passion, the light, of positive change into the hearts of those around me. The power of the ripple effect unfolded, and I saw the miraculous all around me. The ideas generated, connections made, and kindnesses spread made me realize how truly blessed I am to be a part of a group of conscious global citizens that want to inform, inspire, and mobilize people to start living a conscious lifestyle. This journey has been a true gift! ~ Missy Martin

A sophomore at Belmont University from Naperville, Illinois, Missy Martin is pursuing a double major in environmental science and social entrepreneurship with a minor and concentration in public relations and contemporary social issues, respectively. She expresses her passion for environmental and food justice through her involvement in speech and debate team where she has competed nationally with a poetry program emphasizing food deserts. Missy is also the project manager of Cultivate, Belmont University’s student-run garden, which exists to provide the Belmont and Nashville communities with sustainable agricultural options while encouraging individuals to take an active role in their food choices. Her journey with Turning Green started when she volunteered for the Conscious College Road Tour. The experience inspired her to sign up for the Project Green Challenge because with this organization and the people involved in it, she felt an inexplicable, positive energy. Magical even. She could feel this energy being used to make change in the global community, and she wanted to be a part of it. Now having experienced PGC, Missy found the connections she created in her school and local community to be the most inspiring aspect. PGC provided her the tools and resources to communicate change, and now Missy has the support of many passionate leaders and school administrators. She is excited to continue to work with these individuals to advocate, educate, and implement conscious living. When not participating in school activities or PGC, Missy enjoys volunteering at The Cookery, a restaurant that employs homeless individuals and teaches them culinary skills, and at Salud!, the cooking school affiliated with Whole Foods. “There are so many opportunities to serve. My motto is to laugh abundantly, love greatly and serve humbly. Living by that phrase brings wonderful, often unexpected, joys,” she said.

What FIVE words would best describe your PGC 2015 experience?

Empowering, Meaningful, Life-changing, Moving, and Community-building

Summarize your experience as a PGC participant.

Empowering. Moving. Meaningful. Necessary. Life-changing. These words encapsulate my experience as a PGC participant. As the challenge progressed this month, I felt stronger and more confident as a global citizen. It is one thing to know how to act to create change for people and the planet, and it is a whole other thing to actually make those changes. PGC pushed me to act and be a changemaker. I am no longer someone who simply just knows the facts. I am a driven, passionate global citizen who wants to develop ideas, mobilize others, and change the world in the best way that I can. The daily overviews, challenges, and resources served as way to begin to accomplish all three of these areas. Each day I thought critically, met and talked to amazing people, and reflected on the theme. I learned how to make videos and a Pinterest board for the first time, met and talked with administrators, and made beautiful connections with inspiring community leaders. These new skills and relationships symbolize the growth I have experienced in the last 30 days. I am able to articulate and communicate my voice in a way that I never knew was possible, and I was able to do that with the people that I interviewed, informed, and talked to. The people in my community both at home and at college engaged in the experience with me, and because of this, these communities began to transition to conscious living too. One particular community that I saw the greatest impact as a result of my journey was in my residence hall. As an RA, my residents look to me as a role model. Many of them approached me daily about changes they were making in their lives to be more conscious. Some examples include upcycling a decorative tissue box to wrap a birthday present, thrift shopping for new clothes, and using non-toxic beauty and body products.

As the challenge provided me the opportunity to expand my knowledge on human and environmental issues the global community faces today, I began to really feel everything happening around me. I felt anger. I felt love. I felt joy. I felt passion. I have never been pulled in so many directions emotionally. I felt anger toward unethical industries like fast fashion where people are living off $10 a month and being beaten for trying to improve their working conditions. I felt love as people in my communities and other participants in PGC supported my journey. I felt joy as I learned about the people and companies making a difference by supporting organic, fair trade, non-GMO, and other ethical aspects. I felt passion as I saw change being made as I encouraged others to be mindful in their actions. By acting, connecting, and feeling, I truly felt the magic that being conscious can bring to one’s life. This challenge and the people involved, both directly and indirectly, touched my heart, and I feel like I touched many of theirs too. I cannot see the full result of the impact I have made from this challenge, but I know that it is there. The impact is still happening, too. People are continuing to watch my videos, read my posts, and discuss with me. PGC ignited a passion and newborn vibrancy inside me. This experience has led me into a new chapter of my life. A chapter filled with a social mission and purpose. I am ready to make and be the change. Change happens… allow for the possibility.


PGC 2015 Runner Up, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amherst, MA

It occurred to me in fifth grade after traveling to Pakistan that not every child looked up and saw beautiful, pollution free blue skies. Along with other devastating things I witnessed abroad, I knew at that young age I wanted to save the world. After years of people telling me I was ‘just one person’ and couldn’t possibly save the world, I began believing them. It wasn’t until I found Project Green Challenge that a passion was lit inside of me that I knew would never go out. I finally started believing in myself. This confidence, this passion, has led me to meet some of the most extraordinary, empowering individuals of our time. I now know the solution is us. Uniting as a global community, setting examples for positive change, enables us to build a conscious, sustainable world that we can be proud of.
~ Marina Qutab

Marina Qutab is pursuing an undergraduate dual degree in Communications and Arabic at The University of Massachusetts Amherst. She will also complete the Interdepartmental Program in Film Studies. Marina grew up in the rural town of Rutland, Massachusetts. From a very young age, Marina dreamed of using her creativity, intelligence and courage to build a conscious, sustainable world. This dream is what led her to PGC. In addition, her wonderful friend that is a past PGC participant encouraged her to join. In her free time, Marina enjoy cooking, making music, blogging, writing, exploring in nature, volunteering and learning about world cultures.

What FIVE words would best describe your PGC 2015 experience?

Motivational, Inspirational, Rewarding, Educational, Emotional.

Summarize your experience as a PGC participant.

One of my friends who is a past PGC participant contacted me the day PGC2015 began and said, “Ahhh Marina, I am sorry I didn’t contact you sooner but today is the first day for the TG’s 30-day challenge!!! Go sign up! I’ve been following your conscious sustainable thinking blog, and this challenge seems perfect for you!” She gave me background info on what PGC is, and told me I would not regret it if I did it. I was hesitant because I had a huge exam the next day, and on top of it, it was already 9:30 pm. But, something inside of me said “do it”, so I did. The first challenge illustrated how many earths I needed to maintain my lifestyle (3-7), and it was SO eye opening. I thought I was already green-minded and lived consciously; however, I found that I could be greener-minded and live more consciously. I knew then that I made the right decision to begin the 30-day journey. Every challenge after Day 1 was equally as eye-opening as they were inspiring. I could not get over some of the terrible operations that went on around the world, such as sweat shop labor. Another thing that really shocked me was the fact that corporations are now bigger than the government. I was appalled, and wanted to change this while advocating for responsible, ethical solutions.

Motivated by the various challenges posed by PGC, I did things I normally wouldn’t think to do. Just a few examples include: I organized a tabling event advocating for Organic Milk at Starbucks, I met with two big decision makers for UMass Amherst Dining (to push for meatless Mondays and fair trade food), I conducted interviews with farmers and UMass Amherst community members for their opinions on various topics (including organic/local food, GMOs, waste management at UMass, pesticide use on UMass campus), I lessened my waste footprint (through composting, conscious grocery shopping, and making zero waste body products and organic all-purpose bathroom cleaner), and I hosted various conscious meal gatherings for friends (non-GMO meal, FLOSN meal, certified organic meal, fair trade snacks).

If there is anything to take from the PGC experience, it is to realize that in order to change the world, we must first start with ourselves. We must identify ourselves as the root cause of these global issues. Industrialization, consumer culture, irresponsible farming (GMOs, Monsanto, toxic pesticides, Roundup), dehumanization (sweat shops, non-fair trade), and animal cruelty (factory farming). This list could go on. Though these global issues are horrific and hard to face, they are an accurate, TRUE picture of what is really going on in our world. We must hold on to the truth, and say, “There is no planet b. I will not be a part of this vicious cycle, and I will stand up for earth justice and social justice.” Once we stand up for justice and decide we do not want to be a part of this vicious cycle, we will realize that we ARE the SOLUTION. We are the hope for a conscious, sustainable planet.


PGC 2015 Third Place, Greenwich Academy
Greenwich, CT

As Thanksgiving day comes to a close, I want to let you all know I am so thankful for my new PGC family and every incredible thing that has happened in my life over the past 7 weeks. For my new knowledge, confidence, and people that share a passion that gets me up every day. In addition to the eye-opening 30 days of PGC, the finals weekend in California has given me the motivation and encouragement to fully go after my dreams and be an agent of change in my community! I am truly inspired by everyone’s ideas and proposals around education and advocacy and affecting real, tangible change.   

I am honored to be a part of this family of environmentalists and thank each of you for teaching me that I have a voice and can advocate in everyday ways for the protection and preservation of our beautiful earth.

San Francisco is the beginning of an amazing and passionate lifelong journey! With my new toolbox of vocabulary, ideas, and PGC experience, I look forward to continuing our story and collaborating with the PGC team and my community at home to take positive action to heal our planet. ~ Mia Nixon

Mia Nixon lives in Greenwich, Connecticut and attends Greenwich Academy. She is 16, and in 11th grade. Outside of academics, Mia plays lacrosse and run. She is passionate about the environment and the outdoors, and have wanted to make a positive change.

What FIVE words would best describe your PGC 2015 experience?

Inspiring, galvanizing, fun, life-changing, passionate

Summarize your experience as a PGC participant.

When I was told about PGC, I thought it would be a fun diversion from my studies and sports schedules. I grew up collecting eggs and shoveling sheep manure on my grandparents’ farm; I have hiked and rafted 19 U.S. National Parks; I have tagged turtles on a Science-at-Sea expedition; and I have studied climate change and natural resource management at BELL (Brown Environmental Leadership Lab). I considered myself a conservationist, an environmentalist and a naturalist, but after 30 days of PGC engagement, I am now also a proud activist who passionately wants to live and teach what those labels represent! I am a different person. More aware. More motivated. I found my voice. I am now an empowered global citizen. I have changed more than what I eat (FLOSN) or buy (Fair Trade) or wear (organic deodorant). I have changed how I interpret and act upon what I see around me. Knowing more about the people who make my clothes, the farmers that harvest my food, the Senators that are working on a hemp or personal care products bill, the dining services staff that care about the cleaning products, the grounds staff that are working for pollinator-friendly habitats on my campus — I feel more interconnected to the people and world around me and inspired to do my part. It’s not enough to pick up a cigarette butt on my beach; I want to educate and mobilize a group of friends to participate in a coastal cleanup. It’s not enough to know which stores offer organic and Fair Trade; I need to support them and tell others about them.

Being an empowered global citizen does not mean I have to spend a lot of money or travel far. As I learned doing challenges like Fitness, Economics and Clean and creating shopping lists and dorm rooms, it just takes some forethought and budgeting to live more sustainably. Making even small tradeoffs greatly lessens my carbon footprint. Doing the Fashion and Sustainable Ag challenges, I learned about international practices and human rights issues that helped me understand that my choices impact people as far away as Pakistan. Challenges like Organic and Water taught me that by being a conscious consumer I am protecting precious global resources and living more in harmony with my global neighbors. By looking for ethical and sustainable alternatives and mobilizing others to be more mindful and actively engaged in the movement to heal our planet (for instance, the Mobilize and Ripple challenges), I am proving that one person can really make a difference at home as well as halfway across the world. I did not have to leave home to support farmers and businesses that place consumers and the environment first. I did not have to leave my room to be inspired by activists like Bill McKibbon, Cesar Chavez, Livia Firth or Vandana Shiva or to learn about EcoWatch, the EWG, Friends of the Earth International or the World Wildlife Fund. In 30 days, I have a new and refreshed sense of responsibility to fight for human rights, support community partners, promote sustainability, protect our future generations and help heal the planet. I have transformed from an everyday student to an engaged activist and global citizen leader.