Erin Schrode, 18-year old, Co-Founded Teens Turning Green and Created an Eco-Friendly Body Care Line
Schrode is on a crusade to get harmful chemicals out of beauty products.
The 18-year-old – who moonlights as a model and was recently featured in Seventeen magazine – has testified before the California Legislature, helped found a national coalition called Teens Turning Green, and started an eco-friendly body care line now sold in Whole Foods stores nationwide.
At the end of August, the “ultimate green girl,” as she calls herself, was one of five teenagers from California honored for her activism and impact. She received $36,000 from the Helen Diller Family Foundation, to be applied to college or to her activist work. The Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards, based on the Jewish concept of Tikkun olam – a Hebrew phrase meaning “to repair the world” – are given annually and recognize teenagers who live in California and are exceptional role models in their communities and beyond.
“As a teenager, there was a point where I thought, ‘Hey, I’m just a kid. What can I accomplish?’ ” Schrode said, sitting in her home in Ross. “I’ve answered that question. I went to Sacramento, looked lawmakers in the eye and told them why I thought it was important to take lead out of lipstick and chemicals out of products teens use every day.”
Laughing, she added, “When I began this journey, I had no idea what a powerful voice I possessed and that I can use it for the greater good.”
Beauty products are but one part of a “whole eco mind-set,” notes the teen, who lists offending everyday cosmetic contaminants such as parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate, and petrolatum like other teens trade gossip.
Teens Turning Green
In 2005, when Schrode was 13, she and her mother started a group called Teens for Safe Cosmetics, which would eventually become Teens Turning Green. Schrode invited friends to her house and asked them to bring their favorite beauty products. With products in hand, she consulted with a chemist and came up with “The Dirty Thirty,” an easy-to-use resource listing the most egregious chemicals found in commonly used products.
“I asked my friends, ‘Is this what we want to put into our bodies?’ ” Schrode said.
The same year, she lobbied before the state Legislature in support of the California Safe Cosmetics Act, which passed. Then in 2008, she was testifying again, this time before an Assembly hearing in support of a bill to remove lead from lipstick sold in California. Schrode told the legislators, “As a teenager, I should not have to choose between beauty and health. And if there is a way that I can reduce the burden on my body, I choose to take that action.”
The bill was narrowly defeated, but Schrode’s group, Teens Turning Green, is talking with legislators in hopes of getting a similar bill introduced.
In recent weeks, though, Schrode’s focus has been on preparing for something else monumental – college life. She is attending New York University, and will use her $36,000 award to help pay her tuition.
Shils gets teary eyed talking of her daughter’s cross-country move. “As a newborn, Erin just appeared so wide-eyed and ready to take on the world. She’s my best friend. She’s a good girl. It’s her time to shine. She will change the world – or keep changing it.”
Written by Julian Guthrie, Chronicle Staff Writer