Thursday, October 25, 2012

UCSC Students Committed to Sustainability

A team of four UCSC students competing in Project Green Challenge, a global eco-challenge in October, consistently ranked among the top twenty of participants (out of 2484 total) for their engagement in daily challenges that encouraged sustainable behavior change. Students read about each day's sustainability theme, reflected on what they learned, and then acted upon it, uploading photos, write-ups, videos, and more to the challenge website to earn points for engagement and creativity.

Chad Oliver, a second year environmental studies/ecology and evolution major who helped organized the BananaSlugs team poses with some locally grown fruit at the UCSC Chadwick Garden during a challenge for Project Green Challenge. His team won many of the daily challenges and was ranked among the top twenty challenge participants throughout October. 

Almost 50 students and 1 staff member affiliated with UCSC signed up for the challenge this year. UCSC is one of 460 schools participating this year, and this total includes representation from 49 U.S. states and 33 countries around the world. Most participants we spoke with at UCSC said they struggled to participate daily because of the time commitment, but many participated by reading the information provided and reflecting on it during the day.

"Being a college student I am often limited on time, so I found it helpful to browse the project sites of the challenge winners," said Darya Soofi, an senior environmental studies major and the Waste Prevention Coordinator for Student Environmental Center. "This gave me a chance to learn about the specific challenge and stay involved."

One group of students, UCSC Team BananaSlugs, worked actively to participate every day, combining team members' efforts to upload content that was creative enough that they placed among the top twenty of participating teams.

The challenge itself presented a motivating opportunity to participate in something larger than one's isolated personal actions, and the sense of competition was fun. By providing information about sustainability issues each day, the Challenge motivated BananaSlugs team member Kilee Forbes, a junior transfer environmental studies/bio double major, to make a lifestyle change. "This has changed how I look at things, and it convinced me to go vegetarian," she said. "My family has an organic garden and we raise animals, but I wasn't fully aware of what farming does on a large scale."

How we connect with the world around us and find reasons to lead more conscious lives is a journey that anyone looking to be more sustainable must take. To start that journey, challenge yourself to take small steps that are meaningful to you. And tell us about it! What are you doing to make small but important changes in your life? We'd love to hear from you!
Project Green Challenge is over for this year, but the UCSC Simply Committed campaign will continue throughout the year. How will you Simply Commit to sustainability? It starts with one tangible, measurable, and specific commitment that has meaning to you. To see some examples of commitments that have been made at UCSC, please visit our Facebook photo albums.

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