During October, over 100 Pointers participated in Project Green Challenge, a competition to improve sustainability in their daily lives.
The month-long event included thousands of students from hundreds of schools around the world. The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s effort was coordinated by Alex Thomas, Student Government Association green fund coordinator, and Cate Lucas, Residential Living green associate.
The competition featured 30 themed challenges, announced each day by email. Participants were asked to complete actions and make online posts about what they learned to gain points. Top submissions were awarded unique prizes related to the challenge theme.
Thomas said one of the goals of the competition was to show students how the choices they make impact the environment and encourage them to live in a more conscious way.
“The goal isn’t to change everything,” Thomas said. “It’s just to find something that strikes home.”
UWSP ranked 22 out of 384 schools, and one student was in the top 20 individually. Top competitors completed challenges every day, but the competition was designed with casual participants in mind. Students could join at any time and decided which challenges they wanted to complete.
Lucas helped promote the competition and hosted a kick-off event with Thomas. She noted the self-driven nature of the challenges as an event highlight.
“Project Green Challenge will offer you fruit from what you plant, meaning if you take the time and effort to research sustainable topics and dive into each daily challenge, you will reap the benefits or the fruits of that time and commitment,” Lucas said.
Thomas said a competitor only needed 20 to 30 minutes per day to be eligible for a prize and by doing so was more likely to make meaningful connections.
“Everything that we do in our lives can relate to sustainability in so many ways,” he said. “By doing daily challenges it increases the chance of something sticking.”
Kaylee Bast, junior business and communications major, competed for the second time this year and won two challenges. Bast competed because she’s passionate about the environment but isn’t exposed to sustainability topics on a daily basis.
“I thought it was a really cool way, and really accessible, to learn more,” Bast said. “They break it down really well. It can be really overwhelming sometimes to think of what you can do.”
Bast won challenges related to reducing her carbon footprint and using environmentally conscious cosmetics. She was surprised to learn about products she wouldn’t have normally associated with sustainability.
The cosmetic challenge involved using a smartphone app to identify harmful chemicals in conventional cosmetics, as well as the ingredients of environmentally conscious alternatives.
“It really opens up you perspective of what things are going on,” she said. “I make my own deodorant now, and it’s phenomenal.”
Her prize for winning the cosmetics challenge was six, full-size soap and lotion products from a variety of conscious companies. She said she enjoyed the prizes but also enjoyed the friendly atmosphere of the challenges and recommends getting involved.
“Its not completely overwhelming, and you don’t feel like a fool,” she said. “It teaches you how to make those small changes that can lead up to a better lifestyle.”