By Denise Dick
One Mahoning County Career and Technical Center student’s passion for green living became a movement among her classmates.
Senior Taylor Steiner from Boardman was browsing the Internet and found a flier for Project Green Challenge, a 30-day eco-lifestyle challenge for high school and college students. She broached the idea with her environmental science teacher, Bob Miller, and more than 50 of her classmates participated.
“For 30 days there was a different challenge every day relating to environmental science,” Taylor said.
One day, participants saved their trash from the day to judge how much could have been replaced with a more eco-conscious alternative, said Aly Yannucci of Boardman.
Miller said the project meshed with MCCTC’s goal this year of incorporating green efforts in the classroom and through the school.
The roughly 50 MCCTC students were among nearly 3,000 project participants from high schools and colleges around the world.
Students could compete individually or in teams.
Most of the MCCTC students formed teams while Taylor opted to enter as an individual. She finished eighth out of all contestants.
She said the most time-consuming challenge for her was the sustainable meal challenge. She had to create a meal, using primarily organic and locally grown food, that cost less than $2 per person and included a main entree, side dish, dessert and beverage.
For the main entree, she made pumpkin soup.
“The pumpkins my friend had in her garden, so that was free,” Taylor said.
She added some vegetables and coconut milk and made a side salad for the side dish and strawberry lemonade for the beverage.
For dessert, she pureed bananas and froze them.
It took about five hours to shop, make, photograph and document her menu.
Contestants had to submit their completed challenges online to Teens Turning Green, which hosted the contest.
“Sometimes, she [Taylor] got up at 4 o’clock in the morning to get her entry in,” Miller said.
It was a time-consuming endeavor.
Mark Stewart from South Range said participating in the challenge made him think more about his eco-footprint.
Tyler Beck from Poland said he’s made changes in his daily life such as recycling his water bottles. Before the challenge, he didn’t think much about it and just threw them away.
Another challenge was a coat drive.
“It’s to keep clothes out of landfills,” Taylor said.
The coats collected will be donated to the Salvation Army.
Although Taylor, who is a vegan, lived a green lifestyle before the challenge, she’s even greener now.
If she gets a hole in an article of clothing for example, she stitches it up rather than throwing it away and buying a new one. She points to the back of her shoe where she mended a hole.
The contest brought change for other students, too.
“I don’t drive my truck everywhere anymore,” said Chelci Patterson of West Branch. “I get a ride with my mom or something.”
Grant Bagley, also of West Branch, also thinks more about the environment before he starts up his SUV.
Catlyn Walker from Struthers, who is in the culinary-arts program at the school, said she and her fellow future chefs have been recycling more in the kitchen.
Melissa Steele from Boardman eliminated some cosmetics from her makeup palette upon learning about toxins among the ingredients. She also stuck with meatless Monday, cutting all meat out of her diet one day per week.
“It really is a lot healthier,” she said.