Like many students her age, school junior Lauren Ceresa cares about the environment and feels concerned by the news she hears about climate change. After learning how pollution plays a significant role in climate change, she decided to take action. “I’m currently working on my Girl Scout Gold Award, which is the highest achievement and award a Girl Scout can win, similar to the Eagle Scout Award in Boy Scouts,” Lauren says. “As part of my project, I created a website to educate people about the causes and effects of pollution, as well as changes individuals can make in their own lives to limit the amount of pollution in the air.”

Each page of the website has a short quiz where users can test their knowledge and earn a digital postcard as a prize. Lauren also created a survey for users to take after viewing part or all of the website so she can measure the impact of her project. “My hope for this project is that I will be able to inspire people to be aware of the pollution they are responsible for in their lives,” she says. “I hope that everyone who explores my website will incorporate one or two of my suggestions into their daily routines that will help reduce the amount of pollution produced every day.”

One surprising fact Lauren learned while putting her project together is how much pollution is emitted through the production of food. “In my research, I found that each component in an average American meal has traveled about 1,500 miles, often on a large delivery or transportation vehicle that produces a lot of carbon as it travels,” she says. “The agricultural industry is also responsible for tons of pollution due to greenhouse gasses, such as methane and ammonia, in animal waste and farming equipment.” ​She learned that by eating more plant-based foods, consumers could decrease deaths related to agricultural air quality by between 68 and 83 percent. “For me, these statistics highlighted the importance of decreasing the amount of meat in my diet and looking for opportunities to purchase locally grown food.” To view the website and test your own pollution knowledge, click here.