Have you thought recently about your impact on the environment?
The Sustainable Life Club is building new initiatives to help students become more mindful of the environment. We’re planning the annual Green Cup Challenge and the new Ort Report, which we hope will help students form better habits, leading to greater awareness of their impact on the earth.
The Green Cup Challenge is a national competition between schools to see which school can reduce the most energy in a month. Our club at Williston gives the Green Cup Challenge another twist by adding a competition between dorms. So, not only is the Green Cup Challenge a national competition to reduce energy, but it is also a dorm-wide competition to reduce energy. The dorm that shows the most energy reduction between Jan 15th and Feb. 12th gets a pizza party as a prize.
We hope to also make the competition inclusive of the whole school, including day students and faculty. Therefore, we are working on an effort that includes the wider community—to remind everyone that reducing energy is collaborative and requires everyone to help out. We hope that students take more away from our challenge than prizes. We want to help develop a mindfulness of the environment, an understanding and care, by teaching those on campus about the impact of their actions.
We also have a new initiative called the “Ort Report,” which is a project to weigh and reduce the waste from the dining hall. The club will weigh the “ort”—food waste—produced by diners once a week, on Mondays, during lunch. A few representatives from the club will be standing near the place where students usually put their dishes away. They will be directing everyone to first put their food scraps into a small white bucket, and then put their empty plates on the belt for dishes. While students scrape the food scraps from their dishes, the Sustainable Life representative will talk to them about the importance of waste reduction, and how it can relate to their daily lives. We will then weigh the buckets of waste produced and report back to the community about the results each week, encouraging taking and wasting less.
Not only are we carrying out this initiative to teach students to waste less, but we also hope to educate them about the environment and their impact in relation to the world around them. We hope in this way to make them more aware of their actions.
These projects that the Sustainable Life Club is taking on aim to teach students not only how to reduce, but why they should care. This can be hard for us. A few common questions club members hear are, “What impact will I have on the environment by just leaving my car running for a minute longer, or flushing the toilet twice, or taking an extra long shower? What does one person’s actions for the environment mean in an entire world of people, plants, animals, water and earth?” We’re here to answer these questions, and there can be two responses: Not much and very much.
Leaving the car running once while you go into Tandem Bagel Co. might not have a huge impact. Even if you are the most sustainable-minded person in the world, there are 7 billion more people, and one person’s impact can be negligible. However, setting an example and practicing mindfulness matters. Turn the car off, and then order your bagel. Not only will you be practicing awareness of the environment, but other people around you will take note of your example.
The Sustainable Life Club is here to remind you that your actions affect others. By carrying out the Green Cup Challenge and the Ort Report, we hope to not only reduce waste and energy, but we also hope to teach that mindfulness. We will be putting up informational posters and folded-paper-pyramids on the tables in the dining hall in order to continue the education efforts.
Teaching, though, must be focused and long term, and the club is developing a well-rounded plan. As part of this, we have drafted a survey to gauge people’s current habits and awareness. You can take the survey by clicking here. We will use this survey twice—once before the Green Cup Challenge, and once after the Green Cup Challenge—and then compare the results.
The Sustainable Life Club looks forward to working on campus. We hope that students and faculty will all appreciate our efforts and will join us in being more mindful of the environment.