Teen group leading new environmental campaign

FRESNO, Calif.

Erin Schrode may seem like just another college student, but her passion for the planet has basically become her life.

"I consider myself an active citizen. I really see everything I do as a natural extension of who I am and the sort of role that people should take in the world on a day-to-day basis," Schrode said.

Growing-up in Northern California, the 21-year-old found her inspiration right at home.

"Eco is who I am, to my core, it's my very essence. And it's got to do with where I was raised in this stunning space in Northern California where environmental conscious is the norm. And I recognize that it's a bubble, but I'm able to take that same mentality out and extend it to a global scale," Schrode said.

At age 13, Schrode and her mom decided to make an impact by creating Teens Turning Green, a campaign dedicated to educating youth about making the most sustainable and socially responsible choices for our planet.

"I really can't believe the sort of critical mass that we have reached. It was around my kitchen table. It was my mom and I having a crazy idea and some other people going, 'oh, yeah, tell me more,'" Schrode said. "I've seen the entire environmental movement boom around me, so it was the right time, and it was the right messaging, and it's really having a true impact."

Many of its programs revolve around what Teens Turning Green calls the "dirty 30" - a list of chemicals that it says should be avoided in everyday products, whether it be cleaning products, make-up or even clothes. Teens Turning Green also takes action on a much larger scale.

In 2005, at the age of 17, Schrode testified at the California State Legislature to get lawmakers to ban lead from lipstick, joining efforts that resulted in the passing of the safe cosmetics act.

She has taken her mission global to dozens of other countries, including Israel and Ghana, working to, among other things, push recycling programs.

"One of the first things I think is very important to do is to look at labels because so much of what we use, we have no idea what goes into it," Schrode said.

Schrode knows no one is ever too young to be inspired.

"Kids really respond in such a visceral way, they see the cause and effect, they have that certain naivete of hey maybe I can affect change, maybe someone will listen to me, and they open their mouths and guess what? Everybody looks at you different, because you're a kid, and because you are articulate and passionate, and you're educated about these issues," Schrode said.

And some day one, of these kids could be making a difference too.

"We are incredibly powerful, everyone, and I want to hear your voice. I want to hear you speak up. What are you passionate about? That's what drives me. It's this passion. So, whatever it is, go for it," Schrode said. "I will more than support you and when you act, that speaks. They say actions speak louder than words and we need a lot of action."

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