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Sustainability challenge raises green awareness

Lauren Anderson

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Various prizes can be won throughout the Wildcats Go Sustainable Challenge, including the grand prize gift basket. Photo credit: Lauren Anderson

November kicks off with a three-week long challenge for students and staff to live sustainably and think about how daily habits impact the planet.

Associated Students Sustainability is asking those who want to get involved in sustainable practices to participate in the Wildcats Go Sustainable Challenge.

“The goal is to get students involved in sustainable practices and make people aware of how many resources they use and where they can cut back, if possible,” said Janessa Mostow, assistant sustainability coordinator.

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Janessa Mostow, assistant sustainability coordinator, encourages people to join the sustainability challenge to make themselves more aware. Photo credit: Lauren Anderson

The event began on Nov. 2 and will end Nov. 20. There will be three different themes for each week of the challenge including water, zero-waste and food.

There will also be daily and weekly prizes for students practicing sustainable habits based on the week’s theme, Mostow said.

One lucky participant will win the grand prize gift basket valued at more than $600.

“Students should get involved with the challenge because it gives them the opportunity to learn more about what it means to be sustainable,” said Sarah Anderson, president of Students for Environmental Action.

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Various prizes can be won throughout the Wildcats Go Sustainable Challenge, including the grand prize gift basket. Photo credit: Lauren Anderson

Progress and participation is tracked by students and staff taking photos of themselves partaking in sustainable activities based on the week. Participants can post the images to social media using the hashtag #wildcatsgosustainable.

“The pictures can really be of anything related to that week’s theme, from drinking out of a re-usable water bottle, to composting, to riding a bike to school,” said Kayley Paulden, junior exercise physiology major.

Aside from the overall competition, each week has three separate challenges. The number of challenges a participant chooses to partake in is optional. However, the more events completed in, the more likely one is to win a prize.

Week 1- Water

During week one, the challenge is to keep track of a person’s water footprint.

“We had to track our water usage and see how much we’re actually using in a day,” Paulden said.

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Kayley Paulden, junior exercise physiology major and participant in the event, encourages students to post photos to social media during the event. Photo credit: Lauren Anderson

Water covers 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, but only 1 percent of that can be used for humans, according to the sustainability challenge website.

Some tips for reducing water usage include:

  • Playing music in the shower to make oneself get out after a certain number of songs
  • Using a bucket to fill up shower water as it warms up and using that water for other things
  • Using reusable water bottles instead of plastic ones

Participants have the opportunity to learn about the California drought, why it is important to conserve water and why it is important to not use plastic water bottles during water week, Anderson said.

Week 2- Zero-waste

“This [week] is all about composting and thinking if it’s possible to recycle before throwing something in the trash,” Mostow said.

Some tips to cut down waste include:

  • Focusing on composting and recycling
  • Reusing old jars and containers instead of plastic bags

“By participating in zero-waste week, students can become more aware of how much trash they throw away,” Anderson said.

A challenge option for zero-waste is carrying all the trash a person would dispose of in one day with them.

“There’s no such thing as throwing stuff away,” she said. “When you throw something away, it goes somewhere.”

Week 3- Food

Food week is about eating local, organic food and purchasing fair-trade items, Anderson said.

Some tips for this week include:

  • Considering where food comes from and how far it had to travel before purchasing it
  • Using purchasing power to buy food that is local and organic

Associated Students hosted a similar event last fall and received many excited participants.

“I’m concerned with where our future is headed,” Paulden said. “By participating in the challenge, I hope I can make some kind of difference and spread awareness.”

They hope this year will inspire more students to think about how they impact the planet, Mostow said.

“We want more students involved in sustainability,” Mostow said. “This is an important event because a lot of students think they go to a sustainable school, but don’t know how they will be a part of the solution for the future.”

Lauren Anderson can be reached at [email protected] or @laurentaylora on Twitter.

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Sustainability challenge raises green awareness