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Green Is The New Crimson

Recent Green Living Competition Amongst RC Sections Promoting Reusable Containers

One look around campus and it is clear that bottled water is in hot supply. Perhaps we missed the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards for tap water are more stringent than the Food and Drug Administration’s standards for bottled water. Or maybe we missed the memo that nearly 90 percent of water bottles end up in landfills where it takes thousands of years for the plastic to decompose. Nevertheless, there is evidence of positive change and increased awareness on campus.

Fueled by a desire to promote greater sustainable behavior on a micro level, a group of RC students recently organized a campus wide sustainability competition to encourage the use of reusable containers. Based on the theory that increased visibility would lead to heightened awareness and adoption of reusable bottles, Green Living Rep, Evelyne White (NJ) collaborated with the green living section reps to create a week-long challenge where each section would take a daily count of all containers in each class.

Each section earned one point for every reusable container while losing two points for every Styrofoam container. While participation and performance varied amongst the 10 RC sections, NC and NJ dominated the competition with 273 and 228 points, respectively. According to Christian Weeks (NC), “It was fun to see that each day the competition progressed more people used non-disposable drinking bottles. People actually started peer-pressuring those sitting around them to change their habits and some people even brought in bottles for their neighbors to ensure that everyone had a non-disposable drinking bottle.”

While the competition was a welcomed distraction for many, it also conveyed the simple yet important lesson that converting to reusable containers is feasible and economically sound. According to Weeks, “It’s amazing how instilling a little competition can influence behavioral changes, especially among HBS students. While some students have reverted to the convenience of bottled water and styrofoam cups, the awareness created by the competition has increased the number of students using non-disposable drinking containers.” If we really care about sustainability as a community let’s follow the positive example set forth by sections NC and NJ and embrace reusable containers.

March 16, 2009
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