By: Portia Bharath, Columnist
Last Monday, the Office of Sustainability at TU hosted the 2019 Conscious College Road Tour – or CCRT – one of the programs spearheaded by the Turning Green movement. The woman behind the movement, executive director Judi Shils, travels across the country each year teaching college students how to live more sustainably now and for the future.
Since this is no easy task, she recruits volunteers from the host schools and even garners help from longtime friends who have been supporting the program since its infancy fourteen years ago. I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Judi, who so clearly has a strong passion for living well and passing that fire along to the next person.
The keys to an effective exposé are knowledge and visualization, both of which the CCRT has an abundance of. With booths showcasing lifestyle tips on fashion, cooking, self-care, cleaning, sustainable menstrual care and zero-waste living, there is no shortage of information to glean from the program.
Shils brings these ideas to life through eye-catching displays, infographics, freebies (the most important part, obviously!), and especially the friendly volunteers who are just as eager to learn about sustainable consumption as the visitors.
Walking around the booths, you can hear delightful exchanges of knowledge, experiences and interesting facts. Shils says this is her favorite part – she enjoys witnessing these warm interactions between people and is often surprised by some of the tidbits she overhears (when she’s not educating someone herself, of course!).
That is one of the beautiful aspects of the CCRT – Shils, as an ED, is completely involved down to the small details of the program and no job is too small. She places an emphasis on conscious living, and that is realized through every fiber of the program.
Organizations like Turning Green (the parent to two other programs: Project Green Challenge and Conscious Kitchen) are the kind of place-based movements that truly help to shift the public’s mindset; a shift that is much needed not only to “save the planet,” but to teach people how to live with more intention and mindfulness, which has been shown to lead to increased levels of overall happiness.
Jordan Catrombon, a TU sophomore and an Eco-Rep had this to say about her time spent at the CCRT: “I volunteered at the Conscious College Road Tour and honestly it was an experience like no other. Yeah, in Eco-Reps and SEO we engage with the students, but this I felt was deeper than that. Students came up to you because they were truly interested, not because you stopped them on their way to class. It was such a fulfilling experience sharing the statistics and knowledge with students and seeing their faces in shock in response. On the daily I usually talk to mostly environmental science majors and what not, so it was awesome being able to connect with students of all interests and engage in conversations and share ideas. The whole setup itself was such an awesome way to connect with students having the different stations and samples of everyday more sustainable products!”
The Conscious College Road Tour visits 16-18 college campuses across the U.S. each spring semester. To learn more about the program and how you can get involved, visit the Turning Green website at https://turninggreen.org/