College Students Take On Climate Change
March 19, 2009
What if someone told you that your grade in the fight against climate change was a D+?
That would mean you were failing at efforts such as recycling, carpooling, eating local food, and investing your dollars sustainably. You’d probably want to make some improvements, right?
That was exactly the response from college students around the country when we challenged them to improve their schools’ on-campus climate change policies. Using the Sustainable Endowments Institute unique College Sustainability Report Card, which grades North American universities on their green practices, students responded with creative ideas to improve their green grade. From green transportation to biodiesel conversion, proposals represented a diverse range of issues that all shared a common theme: It’s time for a change.
The ten students with winning ideas gathered for two days at our office for intensive training on climate change and campus sustainability. Representing schools from Arizona to North Carolina, they shared similar experiences of convincing their university administration to issue dormitory energy-use regulations and of the frustrating lack of simple things such as recycling bins in all classrooms. However, they also rallied around recent breakthroughs in campus Sustainability Offices and the positive response from their student bodies to take individual action.
Over the course of the next year, the winning students will detail the progress of their campus climate change projects on www.thepeoplespeak.org/climatecrews. From pictures to firsthand accounts, you will see the difference they are making in their communities. Their stories and results will serve as examples of the small changes we can make in our lives to combat this global crisis.
With the UN’s climate negotiations right around the corner this December in Copenhagen, this small but active band of campus climate leaders inspires us and reminds us that local action can create global change.