OU Ecohouse residents launch two-week challenge to reduce environmental impact
By Lucas Bechtol, CG News
On Sunday, the residents of the Ohio University Ecohouse began an unofficial, two-week challenge to lead the Athens community in reducing its environmental footprint.
Students James Laske, Kate Gulino and Kylie Johnson plan to follow in the footsteps of Colin Beaven, an environmentalist and writer who spent a year cutting his environmental impact by forgoing television and buying local foods. Beaven cataloged his efforts in a book and documentary called “No Impact Man.”
Laske, a second-year graduate student in international development studies, was inspired by Beaven’s work and decided to start a similar but shorter effort at the OU Ecohouse and around Athens.
“The whole point of it is not to go without everything,” said Johnson, a first-year graduate student in environmental studies. “It’s really about just getting down to the bare minimum and then seeing … what you’re willing to give up or change about your lifestyle.”
Participants need only to try to reduce their carbon footprints to take part. There is no official registration or organization.
The students have extended the challenge to two weeks, Johnson said, adding that making the effort a year-long project would cause it to lose momentum. Laske said two weeks is enough time “to learn some lessons” about reducing one’s environmental impact.
The students are trying to extend the challenge to OU and Athens. They hope the effort will broadcast what the Ecohouse residents are doing and provide a forum in which participants can swap experiences and advice.
“We could do it by ourselves,” Laske said. “But trying to involve other people is just trying to accomplish one of the goals of the Ecohouse, which is just to spread more awareness on these types of issues.”
The students created a Facebook event to publicize the challenge. On Sunday, the event had 68 people promising to take part.
The organizers hope participants will challenge themselves and realize what they can live without, Johnson said. Giving up some things does not mean decreasing one’s quality of life, Laske said.
“This would be a great thing to do … to really look at the way that we live and all the things we take for granted,” Laske said.
The challenge will run until 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 30. For more information, visit the Facebook event or noimpactproject.org/experiment.