Campus Sustainability Contests
Are you up to the challenge?
Welcome to iSEE’s landing page for campuswide contests and challenges! Each year, we host month-long opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to incorporate eco-conscious practices into daily life, compete with peers to win prizes, and share helpful hints with our amazing sustainability community here at U of I. More than anything, we hope that our participants can take the time to learn, self-reflect, and turn short-term goals into lifelong behaviors.
Check back in for current contest information, the most recent updates, and information about how to keep in touch.
March 2021: Plastic Free Challenge
So much plastic is thrown away each year that putting it all together creates enough material to circle the Earth four times. Ouch. More than 99 percent of plastics come from chemicals derived from fossil fuels (petrochemicals), and only about 9 percent of plastic is recycled for reuse. Approximately 500,000 straws are thrown away each day. It is estimated that each American generates 185 pounds of plastic each year. Have you heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? Nearly 600 million pounds of plastic fill our oceans, draining from our fresh bodies of water — which we contribute to here in the Midwest!
These are frightening statistics! How much of what’s listed above do you think comes from single-use plastics, or items that individuals use and throw away every day? Luckily, you came across this challenge! YOU have the power to change these statistics for the better.
Your Actions Matter
Thank you for taking the first step to living a more plastic-free lifestyle and being conscious of your plastic consumption. You are helping combat climate change by reducing the demand for fossil fuels and pollution from landfills; your actions make a difference by reducing the amount of plastic that ends up in our streets, landfills, and bodies of water.
Together, we can make a difference!
How to Participate
The most important step is registering to participate with our interest form. Then, you’ll receive a weekly grid to fill out with the items that you throw in the garbage each day and track your waste with our predetermined point system. While not every plastic item is included, we made the list as comprehensive as possible. We encourage you to use your best judgement and add an appropriate number of points if you throw away an unlisted item.
The goal is to earn as few points as possible. Subtract points from your weekly total when you complete positive, waste-conscious actions. At the end of each week, upload your grid and reflection to the weekly Google Form, which you’ll receive via email.
Please note: Points are generated based on items thrown in the trash. Before choosing to throw an item away, please consider whether it can be reused or recycled (recycling does not affect points).
The Plastic Free Challenge is about more than points and prizes (although both of those are fun, too!). We encourage you to reflect on your waste at the end of each day and each week. Ideally, your average weekly plastic waste will decrease.
Throughout the challenge, we will send out resources to check in and provide guidance. Remember, this is a challenge! It may not be easy, but we can guarantee that by participating, you’ll become more conscious of how much plastic you throw away. Plus, you’ll be part of a fun, interactive, and sustainable community!
- Fill out the interest form. Click here to access the March 2021 Plastic Free Challenge Interest Form.
- Plan ahead and reflect! Think about what you throw away each day. Are there choices you can make to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in the garbage?
- Review the breakdown of points for various items and use the grid to track your points. Subtract points for positive actions. Click here to view and download the grid.
- At the end of each week (by 8 a.m. the following Monday), upload your grid to the weekly Google Form (see below).
- Stay in touch! Share your efforts and let us — and others — know how important it is to be conscious of how much waste we generate. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Weekly Google Forms
Week 1 (March 1-7)
Click here to access the Plastic Free Challenge Week 1 Google Form.
Week 2 (March 8-14)
Click here to access the Plastic Free Challenge Week 2 Google Form.
Week 3 (March 15-21)
Click here to access the Plastic Free Challenge Week 3 Google Form.
Week 4 (March 22-28)
Click here to access the Plastic Free Challenge Week 4 Google Form.
If you’re joining late in the challenge, never fear! Bring yourself up to speed by visiting this folder on Box, where we archive all email communication and weekly waste tips throughout the challenge.
Spread the Word!
There are plenty of ways to keep in touch:
- Join the Waste Reduction @ Illinois Facebook page to share your actions and best practices while encouraging others along the way!
- Follow iSEE on social media and tag us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to connect with others.
- You are not doing this alone — share your progress with your roommates, families, and friends!
- Let us know how the challenge is going! Reach out to Meredith Moore and Emily Dickett at any time at email@example.com.
Past Campus Sustainability Challenges
Waste Reduction Challenge — October 2020
The average individual generates around 6 pounds of waste per day, and about 40% of all waste is in the form of food. Each person disposes of approximately a ton of waste per year. Yikes!
Thank you for taking the first step to be more conscious of your personal waste output. Your actions matter. You are helping to combat climate change and to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in our landfills. We have the power to make a change.
How to participate
As part of Campus Sustainability Month this October, iSEE is starting a campuswide waste reduction challenge. By registering to participate, you will receive a weekly grid to fill out with the items that you throw in the garbage each day; for example, food, single-use disposable items, paper, and plastics. A point system will be used for you to keep track of your waste. The goal is to earn as few points as possible. There is also the opportunity to subtract points for positive actions. These actions will result in a subtraction from your weekly total. At the end of each week, upload your grid and reflection to the weekly Google Form.
You can download and read all email communication from the October 2020 Waste Reduction Challenge here.