What started as a class project has turned into a campus-wide movement. Four students with a passion for environmental justice decided to advocate for change and have involved others all around campus to change with them.
Kadence Cruse, Shania DeBoer, Ally Pettit and Madison Wingert are all senior social work majors who are passionate about taking care of the earth. They see the positive impact a person can have by making simple changes to their lives. They wanted to share these ideas with people around campus as well as raise awareness for the issue. So they created the 30-day eco-challenge, which runs through Nov. 25.
“The eco-challenge is about changing negative environmental habits into positive ones,” Wingert said. “No matter what your stance is on climate change, loving the earth in even small ways is something we can all do to help people.”
There are many ideas the four women have suggested to love the earth in small ways. These include limiting shower time, cutting down on eating meat, bringing a reusable bag to the grocery store, shopping at thrift stores, bringing reusable mugs places instead of using paper coffee cups, not using paper towels, making sure to turn the lights off, hang drying clothes instead of using a dryer, walking places when possible instead of driving, recycling paper and many more.
Dana Van Ostrand, a senior Christian education and youth ministry major, is one student participating in the eco-challenge. He has started taking shorter showers, bringing his own cup to the hub and cafeteria, recycling all plastic and turning off the lights anytime he leaves a room.
“I decided to participate in the eco-challenge because in my time in college I have been convicted about my consumption and how it impacts the earth,” Van Ostrand said. “I believe it is a part of a Christian calling to steward the earth well, and this has been my first experience in this stewardship.”
Pettit agrees that this advocacy and change is something God has called his people to.
“We think this challenge is about loving this earth and loving God, but also loving our neighbor as these disasters affect the low-income people,” Pettit said. “It’s about serving them, which comes so much from awareness.”
That was a big factor for their passion towards this project.
“The people who are hurt the most by climate change are the people who can do the least,” Wingert said. “It’s important for people to participate in something like this, because we can do things that will help people and in turn love them, which I think is the most important thing in life.”
There are a few ways the Northwestern community can get involved. Anyone can follow the eco-challenge pages on multiple social media platforms, as well as post the ways they have gotten involved. There is also a box outside the DeWitt Cafeteria where students and staff can write down what they’re doing to participate.
“I would definitely recommend [doing the eco-challenge], not only as an event to do with your friends but to participate in God’s call for humanity,” Van Ostrand said.
The group hopes this will be something many students take part in, and that it will make a lasting impact on their lives even after the challenge is over.