Erin Schrode co-founded Teens Turning Green when she was just 13 years old! (Now that she’s all grown up, it’s become Turning Green to include eco-minded folks of all ages.) She’s been called an eco-Renaissance woman and the teen queen of green, and her youth-led movement has inspired a generation to stand up for the planet. She lives and breathes sustainability, and truly believes that we can all save the world, one bite at a time! Here, she fills us in on her mission, and her hope for the future.
You’re a force to be reckoned with in the world of sustainability! What do you want to achieve?
I’m on a mission to make the world a better place, and when people get in touch to say we’ve made a difference in their lives, it’s incredible.
How do you measure the difference your movement has made?
For me, the greatest success is instilling stewardship at a young age. You and I aren’t in this to convert people to eat organic cereal, or to use only paraben free skin care. We’re in it to have young people embrace conscious living, embrace active living, and embrace stewardship, so that they become agents of change.
What do you see as a solution for some of the problems facing our society?
We need to make it so that young people see a future in working in the food system. And ultimately we need to support organic agriculture. We need to support local and family farms, and companies that value organic, non-GMO, and the health and wellness of our planet. We have to show young people that there’s a role for us to play in the food system. There’s nothing better than getting involved and growing your own food. It’s sacred.
How do you get kids and teens excited about sustainability?
I love what I do. I live it and breathe it. I stand for it so wholeheartedly. I think that that fire, that passion comes through. I show people you don’t have to sacrifice anything to have a sustainable lifestyle.
And young people get it. We’ve grown up in a world where climate change is real. It’s not a generation to come; it’s in the palm of our hands and on the screens of our iPhones. It’s here, and now. If we don’t deal with it, we’re going to have such a problem on our hands. I mean, why not try to do better? What do you have to lose in trying to make the world a better place, to make your body healthier, to promote social justice.
What’s your advice for other young people who want to get involved in sustainability and/or activism?
Find your passion. Figure out what makes you tick, what you stay up way too late thinking about, and what will get you out of bed in the morning. The world needs you, exactly who you are. How can you best contribute?
What’s your vision for the future of food?
My vision is a world in which we can feed all people, with real food that nourishes their bodies and supports healthy ecosystems. Where we don’t have such inequities in our food system in terms of food justice and food distribution around the world.
What myths about organic would you like to dispel?
I wish people understood that there need be no sacrifice in creating a world where organics are abundant. I’d love to dispel the myth that organic food doesn’t taste as good or isn’t as accessible, or are out of your price range, or aren’t abundant enough to feed the world. I love showing students on a budget that when they take out all this processed, over packaged, nutritionally empty food and replace it with whole foods, that they can do it on a budget too.
Where do you find hope for the future?
I find hope in the faces of kids, in the words of young people, in the nuggets of information that they retain and act upon. Every time a student tells me something they’ve learned, or something they want to make a difference in, I have hope.
Sustainability makes sense to kids. I work with students because they are not only the future – they are the hope. Just talk to some kids about it – they’re brilliant. They’re being the change we all need.