First Ever Campus Sustainability Month a Huge Success

The Office for Sustainability celebrated its first Campus Sustainability Month this October with multiple events. Campus Sustainability Month, previously Campus Sustainability Day, began with Know Tomorrow, followed by Bike Fest, a screening of the food waste documentary, Just Eat It, and Project Green Challenge.

Know Tomorrow kicked off Campus Sustainability Month on Oct. 2 on the Union Mall.  The event was in conjunction with the upcoming United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris.  Students were able to learn about climate change, what we can do to mitigate it, and how to use social media to voice their concerns.

Summer Sherrod, president of the Student Sustainability Club and event coordinator, said, “The Know Tomorrow event went well. We had over 35 students sign up to show their support for the UN climate talks on the University of Arkansas Know Tomorrow website. We were able to educate students about climate change, crowd source ideas for reducing our carbon footprints, and give away some awesome prizes. It went really well!”

Bike Fest was the second event of the month. Students were encouraged to visit Mcllroy Avenue in front of the Walton College of Business to learn about biking opportunities through UREC Outdoors, register their bikes with Razorbikes, and enter for a chance to win a free bike, donated by Pepsi. Over 300 students took part in the event, and Edgardo Flores (pictured right) was the grand prize winner. The runners-up were Travis Parrish, and Richie Donahou, who each won bike gear and accessories. The event included slow bike races, demonstrations from UREC Outdoors staff, free food, and the opportunity to learn more about biking on campus through Razorbikes.
Jonathan Vogler from UREC Outdoors said, “Bike Fest was a great opportunity for those interested in promoting cycling in and around the University of Arkansas community to get together and educate U of A students on a variety of cycling resources available to them.”Cassandra Gronendyke, administrative specialist for the Office for Sustainability, said, “Bike Fest was a huge success, especially since it was our second year.”
The third event was a screening of Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story as part of World Food Day, Oct. 15. “I think watching the film made a lot of people face some very conflicting emotions,” Cameron Caja, a student in attendance said. “On the surface, there is this ridiculous situation where you could just get all the food you want to do whatever you wanted with it. Meanwhile something darker is rising up inside you as you consider that this comical situation of excess is real, that we are feeding our landfills better than our people.”

Gronendyke said the attendees were an inspired group, going into the discussion afterwards. “Each of the students, staff and faculty had meaningful questions and challenged themselves to acknowledge their own responsibility in the situation,” Caja said.  “We have built a market system remarkably resilient to making the small changes necessary to end hunger entirely in this country.”

To learn more about food recovery, the University of Arkansas Food Recovery Project’s legal guide can be found here.

The final event, spanning the entire month, was Project Green Challenge.  Students registered online at projectgreenchallenge.com, and would receive small challenges each day to be more sustainable.  This event ran for the entire month of October, and the results will be announced this week.

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) upgraded its national Campus Sustainability Day event to Campus Sustainability Month for the first time this year.

Michael Repovich, program director at the University of Arkansas Office for Sustainability said, “It’s great that we went from a day to a month, and that is a great leap in awareness.”

Campus Sustainability Month was sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, the University of Arkansas Office for Sustainability, and Student Sustainability Club.

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