By: Sophia Bates, Contributing Writer
Photo by Sophia Bates/ The Towerlight
The Project Green Challenge, a 30-day environmentally-themed action plan for high school and college students, has made its way to Towson University as part of Campus Sustainability Month, starting Oct. 1.
The Project Green Challenge encourages students to participate in eco-friendly daily challenges for the month of October. Those who sign up for the Project Green Challenge get an environmentally-minded challenge delivered to their email to complete every day from Oct. 1 through Oct. 30.
Eco-Reps, a group of students who promote sustainability efforts on campus, set up a booth on Sept. 27, with free samples of products ranging from shampoo to snacks, and were available to answer any questions people had regarding Project Green.
Students were encouraged to sign up for Project Green through a tablet, or by taking a card with information on it to sign up at home. After signing up for the month-long challenge, students could take samples provided by Project Green that were eco-friendly in usage and production.
“We are using Eco-Reps, sustainability peer-educators on campus, that will participate in the Project Green Challenge so we can develop ourselves as sustainability leaders, too,” Graduate Assistant for Environmental Initiatives Daniela Beall said.
The challenge offers different values to various Eco-Reps. Senior Eco-Rep Cesar Cornejo noted community and campus fellowship as a main concern for the challenge.
“We need something that brings communities together, and something that impacts us all will help us be together,” Cornejo said. “This will help us come together as a campus and show that we care, and will try to do our best to be more sustainable.”
Beall projected different events that will take place in October for community building. The first full weekend of October, Eco-Reps will host a “Retreat for Environmental Action” that encourages students to make teams and work together to form action plans for tackling an environmental problem of their choice, according to Beall.
“Last year was our pilot weekend, and out of that we had students launch the ‘Take Back the Tap’ project,” Beall said.
The Student Government Association passed a resolution in April advocating for Towson to ban the sales and distribution of disposable plastic water bottles. While the measure did not bind the University to any action, SGA did advocate for administrators to consider an injunction on single use plastic bottles.
“We hope to see plans like this come out of this year’s retreat, too,” Beall said.
Junior and eco-rep Mark Jenkins hinted at possible initiatives for the school to use in becoming more sustainable.
“I personally think one of the biggest challenges we have here on sustainability on campus is the composting,” Jenkins said. “We have compostable bags and boxes at different dining locations, but the only compost disposing containers on campus is in the dining hall itself. So, if you take the bag, usually they just end up in the trash, which won’t be composted.”
Other events in October will include a screening of the film “Wasted! The Story of Food Waste,” a documentary highlighting the environmental impact of food waste.
Senior Eco-Rep Courtney Meadows noted students’ responsibility in promoting sustainability.
“You would think that college students would know the most, because we are supposedly the generation that cares,” Meadows said. “But there are a lot of people that are uninformed and don’t know the impacts of the decisions they are making.”
Jenkins hopes that the Project Green Challenge will show students that small actions can add up to a big impact.
“I’m really looking forward to the Project Green Challenge to get students more involved in their own personal lives and making changes,” Jenkins said. “If enough people do the actions in these challenges, then it’s a bunch of little things that make a huge impact.”
Freshman Teagan Bowen signed up for the challenge after talking to Eco-Reps and looking at the samples.
“I signed up for the Project Green Challenge because I think it’s a great way for us all to be more conscious and contribute towards helping the planet,” Bowen said. “I see a lot of us at Towson making efforts to be greener, but this challenge is a great way to get more people involved and being eco-friendly.”