Behind the Scenes of the Project Green Search Model Competition Finals

Project Green Search, the first-ever green model competition, has a winner! Rachel Avalon hails from Los Angeles, California, and beat out over 130 other serious contenders for her new title as Green It Girl (read more about Rachel and her plans here). But before the winner was chosen, there were activities, photo shoots and some very good times.

The Ten Gorgeous (and Green to the Core!) Finalists Photo by Courtney Dailey.

Judging Project Green Search was lots of fun; I got a chance to go to most of the activities with the finalists and got to know them; what an impressive group of young women! From an Indy racecar driver to a natural nutritional counselor, to a college activist and an environmental educator, this was a talented and driven group of contenders. And as you can see, all of them were gorgeous too! The judging crew and I (see below) had our work cut out for us.

The judges! From left to right: Michael Zaliski, CEO of Omniquest Media, Anna Griffin, editor-in-chief of Coco Eco Magazine, Starre Vartan, author and publisher of Eco-Chick.com (I’m wearing an organic cotton dress by Doie), Remy Chevalier, Co-founder of Project Green Search, Deborah Lindquist, ecofashion designer, Josie Maran, former model and force behind Josie Maran Cosmetics, and Darren Moore, host of AlterEco and founder of Ecovations.

Day One: I got a chance to meet all the girls at a breakfast at our hotel, The Standard on Sunset Boulevard. Everyone was so excited to be there, and Taryn from EcoDivasTV started filming right away, and off we went!

Vanessa Meier even looks gorgeous in curlers! At Shades salon in LA. Image by Remy Chevalier for Lu Magazine.

After the girls (and I, luckily enough) got our hair done at Shades Salon in Los Angeles (with nontoxic, natural hair color created by the owner of the salon herself!), we headed over to Environment Furniture, where the contestants changed into beautiful ecofashion outfits provided by Stewart + Brown, Mountains of the Moon, EcoSkin and Deborah Lindquist. Then it was time for pictures! After getting their shots done, I interviewed the hopefuls; this competition was about a lot more than just looks, after all.

That’s Taryn from EcoDivasTV shooting Rachel Avalon and me (Starre Vartan) while I’m interviewing her. Rachel is wearing an organic cotton Stewart + Brown dress and Charmone heels; I’m in a Covet bamboo tunic and Levi’s E Collection organic denims .

Juliana Tran (in Stewart + Brown cashmere dress) and Vanessa Meier (in Mountains of the Moon hemp dress) relax after their photo shoot with Courtney Dailey. Image by Remy Chevalier for Lu Magazine.

During the 7-hour photo shoot at Environment Furniture, the contestants got a chance to know eachother; networking and building community was a big part of what PGS is all about. All of our top ten finalists displayed their dedication to the environment (and class) by keeping all traces of cattiness out of the competition and really bonded. Very cool.

Leilani Munter, an Indy racecar driver and PGS finalist, was right at home in an all-electric Tesla sports coupe.
Image by Remy Chevalier for Lu Magazine.

Rachel Joy in Stewart + Brown dress and Charmone shoes. Image by Remy Chevalier for Lu Magazine.

That night the girls did some guerilla gardening, planting trees in an abandoned lot. In stilettos no less! It made quite the photo shoot, echoing Vogue’s recent coverage on the subject. Then we all retired to the House of Blues for some relaxation and chill-time.

Starre Vartan (in Hairy Mary’s vintage reconstructed dress) and Remy Chevalier, co-founder of Project Green Search relaxing at the House of Blues.

Day Two:
After I sat on the Ecostiletto-organized green bloggers panel, the PGS contestants model sustainable style in a vegan fashion show at the same event.

Rachel Sarnoff, founder of Ecostiletto, looks on as Ecoskin founder and designer Sandy Skinner describes the dresses worn by Rachel Avalon, Karen Panocchia, and Vanessa Meier.

After the fashion show (where I was totally distracted by the gorgeous clothes, but fellow judge and ecofashion designer Deborah Lindquist made notes about how each girl worked it on the runway), we all had a bit of time to relax before the big party (and reveal) later on.

Zion Francis, actress, civil engineer, knitter and model gets glam at a photo shoot.

I was nervous about figuring out who were my top choices, but in the end I narrowed it down to four girls who I thought would make the best representative to be the new green ‘It’ model.

Judge Michael Zaliski and Project Green Search cofounder Aysia Wright of The Greenloop. Image by Starre Vartan.

Zion Francis and Ariel Clay relax at The Standard before the Big Night! Photo by Remy Chevalier for Lu Magazine.

Upon arrival at ECCO ultralounge, each contestant got one final chance to make her case, telling the crowd who she was and why she was the right woman for the PGS job. Supporters and family members cheered on their favorites which made it all really fun. Then the other judges and I went upstairs to deliberate among ourselves and make our final decision!

Jessica Williamson, Zion Francis, Leilani Munter and Rachel Avalon, waiting to see who will be announced the winner of PGS.

MC and judge Darren Moore played the reveal reality-show style, eliminating contestants and building suspense until there were just four ladies left. It was pretty painful to stand there and watch, I must admit! And then, Rachel Avalon was named the winner of Project Green Search! Congratulations Rachel, and to all the other contestants, thank you for making the first PGS an amazing, inspiring event!

Watch the Fun Wrap-Up Video by EcoDivasTV and Rachel’s acceptance speech!

Congratulations Rachel Avalon! You can read more about Project Green Search’s winner here.

And there are plenty of more great image from PGS on The Daily Green’s fun flipbook.

Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of Eco-Chick.com and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life. She's also a freelance science and environment writer who has published in National Geographic, CNN, Scientific American, Mental Floss, Pacific Standard, the NRDC, and many more. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her partner and black cat. She was a geologist in her first career, and still picks up rocks wherever she goes.