Students make sustainable changes through Green Warrior challenge

Fran Letts

First-year Eco Leader Fran Letts successfully engaged 291 students in Corbett Hall to participate in the Green Warrior challenge.

Sustainability is at the forefront of the University’s infrastructure and core values, so it’s no wonder that Housing & Dining Services has developed sustainability programs to match this progressive institutional model. From energy resources to environmental justice, HDS has made it a priority to limit negative impacts on the environment by encouraging staff and students to think green.

From Eco Leaders to zero-waste events, HDS is at the core of student-oriented sustainability programs, and the Green Warrior challenge is one of the most visible among students on campus. With more than 8,000 students living on campus, the potential to have a significant impact on the carbon footprint is substantial.

Green Warrior logoDuring the eight-week challenge, students are encouraged to take a pledge and adopt more sustainable practices, such as taking shorter showers, turning off lights when leaving rooms, using reusable shopping bags, and using alternative transportation when feasible. By tracking their green actions, students earn points towards sustainable prizes, planting trees, and becoming Green Warrior certified.

The Aggie Village apartments and each residence hall have an Eco Leader who helps promote sustainable practices in their building, but getting students to participate is not always easy. By creatively engaging students, they help get students be aware and involved with Green Warrior.

“We worked in groups going door-to-door — sometimes with fresh baked cookies!” says first-year Corbett Hall Eco Leader Fran Letts. “We gave candy to people on Halloween, and also set up information tables during events in the dining centers. The biggest challenge was getting people who are not passionate about sustainability to take time out of their day to do the pledge.”

Winner with bike
Grisel Lopez Reyes, a sophomore zoology major, was the lucky student winner of the Green Warrior bicycle drawing.

Once students’ interest is captured and they make a pledge, it often leads to behavior change. With 48 potential actions on the pledge list, most people can easily identify a few things to modify in their daily or weekly routines.

The program continues to grow in its eighth year, with one out of every three students on campus participating.

“It was launched to challenge students to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle through a digital platform that was easy and fun,” says HDS Assistant Director of Sustainability Tim Broderick. “I personally think the success of the program comes down to buy-in from HDS staff, student passion, and the incentives.”

Incentives have included green-related items such as fair trade T-shirts, Green Warrior stickers and solar battery packs, and one lucky person each fall is the winner of a new bike.

“This year we changed the program, and for the first time ever, offered the option of planting trees instead of claiming a prize,” Broderick adds. “It was very successful, with more than 3,000 trees planted and a change we hope to keep moving forward.”

Check out the Green Warrior pledge sheet and see how to make sustainable changes in daily activities:

By the numbers

Here are some stats about the fall 2018 Green Warrior challenge:

  • 8 years running
  • 2,509 residents on campus participated
    • 2,165 students from residence halls
    • 35 percent of all residence hall students participated
    • 344 students from Aggie Village
    • 37 perecent of all Aggie Village students participated
  • 1 out of every 3 students is participating
  • 8 categories of pledges to choose from
  • 48 pledge activities to choose from
  • 3,372 trees will be planted on behalf of prize winners

Top three activities pledged:

  • Turn off lights in rooms that are not in use
  • Turn off water while brushing teeth and shaving
  • Carry and use a reusable water bottle