Youth On A Mission: Teens Turning Green

Logo Courtesy of Teens Turning Green

Forget the typical stereotypes that come to mind when discussing teenagers – hormonal, rebellious, moody – and instead be blown away by the youth organization Teens Turning Green.  From pressuring cosmetic companies to remove hormone-disrupting chemicals in their formulations to rebelling against legislation that allows loopholes for environmental sins, the Marin County non-profit run by motivated teens (with help from their parents and community leaders) is an impressive vehicle for sustainable change.

The mission of Teens Turning Green is to eliminate toxic exposures that threaten human health and the environment.  By focusing on what is in their control – daily life choices, school campuses and communities – the teens have created successful advocacy and community outreach campaigns that have demonstrated the powerful changes non-voting citizens can generate.  To date, the organization has hosted Green Spa Days in local shopping centers to demonstrate that natural, not-toxic products are just as beautiful as the questionable cosmetics found on drugstore shelves; launched the Project Green Dorm and Project Prom educational campaigns to equip their peers with the tools to green their living spaces and social events; and recently spearheaded the Marin BYOB initiative, which educates and encourages locals to bring their own shopping bags and is part of an effort to pass a new city ordinance that bans single-use bags.

Image Courtesy of Teens Turning Green

As if the teen members aren’t busy enough, Teens Turning Green has also launched a natural personal care line (I may be in my mid-twenties, but I use their amazing Pomega5 Cleansing Bar and Astara Sunstar Purifying Mask religiously) and has hosted annual Teens Turning Green National Summits for the past five years.  I was fortunate enough to attend their recent Fifth Annual National Summit, held from February 5-6 at Marin Academy in San Rafael, CA, and came away with inspiring insights from top leaders in the sustainability movement and ideas for my own green career path.

Image Courtesy of Teens Turning Green

Friday night was kicked off with a dinner and keynote speech from Adam Werbach, CEO of Saatchi + Saatchi.  I was unable to attend, but heard glowing reviews about the opening keynote address, which challenged attendees to DOT – Do One Thing every day, no matter how small, that brings about positive environmental change.  Saturday was filled with six panels that addressed everything from green schools to the local food movement.  Each attendee was able to pick two panels, so I chose “The Science Behind It,” which examined government oversight and lack of safety testing on the 87,000+ chemicals released into our environment and our bodies, and “Food: Locally Grown,” which focused on the business and effects of sustainable eating.

Now, I have been to a number of wonderful green conferences and events, but the caliber of panelists at the summit was truly impressive.  My first panel included conversations with Stacy Malkan (author of “Not Just A Pretty Face” and co-founder of the National Campaign for Safe Cosmetics), Renee Sharp (director of the Environmental Working Group’s California Office), Dr. Ted Schettler (MPH Science Director of the Science and Environmental Health Network) and Tracey Woodruff (director of UCSF Women’s Reproductive Health and the Environment Department).  The second panel I attended included the likes of Anna Getty (green living educator and author), Helge Hellberg (executive director of Marin Organic) and Lynn Hirshfield (SVP of Participant Media and the producer of “Food, Inc.”).  Speakers on other panels included Zem Joaquin (founder of, Karen Stewart Brown (co-founder of Stewart + Brown clothing) and Summer Rayne Oakes (eco model, activist and author).

Image Courtesy of Teens Turning Green

Panels were followed by workshops that gave participants actionable tips and tools to take with them, as well as an Eco Lifestyle Expo highlighting eco-friendly and local products.  Breakfast, lunch and other in-kind donations (including the items for an incredible take-home Gift Bag) were provided by companies such as Whole Foods Market, Woodlands Market, Jane Iredale Cosmetics, John Masters Organics and Ecojot.  Oh, and did I mention the entire conference was free for anyone who registered?!

Teens Turning Green is an organization that I whole-heartedly support.  So send them a donation, participate in their initiatives or buy their products.  Because, after all, there is nothing more important than investing in our youth – especially the ones working to create a new and better Earth for us all.


  1. I’m so glad that teens are finally getting some positive press. Thank you for this insightful and informative article and thank you Teens Turning Green!

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