Amanda Chou’s decision to start living healthier and an interest in Pinterest helped her win hundreds of dollars worth of gift certificates and eco-friendly merchandise.
Chou, a sophomore, won the national Teens Turning Green Project Green Dorm Makeover Contest. The contest asked students 18 and older to create a Pinterest board containing between 25 and 50 items that were useful for college students while being eco-friendly, and to then add a description about what makes each item green.
Her elaborate and well-researched Pinterest board ended up winning the grand prize, with a unanimous vote from the judges. The board itself contained items such as a digital alarm clock made out of bamboo and eco-friendly storage cubes made completely from recycled materials.
As a first-year student, Chou’s efforts to live healthier started with paying more attention to ingredient labels, but quickly expanded to a broader focus on sustainability. She has taken steps to live in a more environmentally-friendly way.
“I realized that there are a lot of green companies out there that are trying to make it as convenient as possible for us to really get into this,” Chou said.
Ashley Jones, coordinator of education in the Office of Residence Life & Housing, sent the contest information to the 105 campus Resident Advisors, with the hope that the RAs would forward the details to their residents.
Chou saw the message and decided to enter.
“Amanda won a lot of really neat and eco-friendly products for her residence hall room, which I hope sparks some engaging dialogue with her friends about how awareness of conservation efforts can have a positive impact on the overall campus community,” Jones said.
The idea behind the Project Green Dorm Makeover Contest is to help spread awareness and knowledge about how to maintain an eco-friendly lifestyle to the younger generations. Judi Shils, founder and director of Teens Turning Green, has been working to increase environmental awareness among youth since 2002.
“We work to mobilize youth around issues, knowing that if they were informed they could make a difference” said Shils, “if we touch one kid, then they touch others, and that’s how things change.”
Shils and Teens Turning Green, work to encourage young people to understand what they are bringing into their lives every day, and then consider what small changes they can make to live greener.
According to Chou, these small changes are not as difficult as many people might think. Many department stores have eco-friendly, everyday products, such as laundry detergent or shampoo.
“A lot of people have this misconception that living greener means using a lot of leftovers, overspending on pricey organics, or having fewer options, but the reality is there are actually a lot of companies that are learning to make green products that appeal to modern day design, and there are a lot more options out there than people are aware of,” Chou said.
As a result of her winnings, Chou’s Taylor Residence Hall room is now stocked with organic bedding, 100% recycled notebooks, healthy, natural snacks, and book bags made out of recycled plastic bottles.
Chou recently joined a new group on campus called EcoReps, a peer-to-peer education network for students who are passionate about sustainability and would like to share their expertise with other students.
For more information about Wake Forest’s sustainability initiatives:
For more information about Teens Turning Green and upcoming initiatives: