This post is the third in a series spotlighting teen advocates, youth leaders who speak up about school wellness and envrironmental issues that affect them most.
Lucia Iglesias, now a freshman at Brown University, recently graduated from Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco. There she made an outstanding contribution to addressing environmental concerns, especially at her school. Lucia was also a finalist in the Teens Turning Green Project Green Challenge and was nominated by Judi Shils, one of the co-founders of Teens Turning Green.
Thanks to HSC intern Christine Andersen, who is beginning her senior year of high school, for this post!
How did you become interested in environmental advocacy?
Last October I became involved with Project Green Challenge. I learned a lot while doing this and became very interested in addressing environmental concerns in my community. After that, I continued my work in environmental advocacy by doing research projects for Judi and interning for Teens Turning Green.
What methods are you using to raise awareness and rally support for your initiative?
While participating in Project Green Challenge, I held an electronics recycling drive at my school. Some months later I co-founded an environmental club with a classmate. Our club helped organize an initiative to remove paper cups from the cafeteria for Earth Month (April), and we held an Eco Fashion Show in May to raise awareness about sustainable and recycled clothing.
What adults have inspired you along the way? What teens have inspired you along the way?
Judi Shils and Erin Schrode (co-founders of Teens Turning Green) definitely inspire me because they are dedicated to the entire issue of environmentalism and human health. They are so committed every day in the office, whether they are discovering new eco products, connecting with other advocates, or leading a conversation. They have this way of incorporating details of their teammates' contributions into one powerful idea. The other Project Green Challenge finalists were also huge inspirations to me. Many overcame incredible challenges of their own to participate in the project, and they all put amazing amounts of time and effort into their work; I am so honored to be one of them.
What challenges did you face? How did you overcome these challenges?
I am a very shy person, so it was hard at times to stand behind my ideas when I was questioned. However, I know that this is bigger than me, and whatever I bring to the green initiative will make an impact in a much larger movement.
How has being involved with environmental advocacy in your community helped shape your personal outlook on these concerns and your daily life?
Environmental advocacy has helped me become more conscious about the choices I make every day. For example, as I prepare to decorate my first college dorm room, I am looking for eco-friendly dorm supplies. I try to consume less, and buy used whenever possible.
What message or piece of advice would you like to send to other aspiring teen advocates?
I have learned that environmental issues are at the core of all human issues. They are sometimes seen as elitist and for people who don’t need to deal with "real issues." But I see an interconnected system, and when environmental issues are addressed, so many other human issues are also being addressed. For example, choosing greener cleaning products doesn’t just reduce the spread of toxic chemicals in the environment, it also protects the health of family members who come in contact with the cleaning products and reduces their exposure to toxins.
What do you hope to do in this area in the future, what is your next step?
I hope to continue to advocate for green living at my college, and to learn about more ways that I can make environmentally conscious decisions in my daily life.
Thanks to Lucia for this interview!