Reflections On Plastic Free July | achs.edu

    Aug 6, 2020 12:00:00 PM

    ecochallenge wrapup blog header

    This July, ACHS participated in the Plastic Free Ecochallenge: "a 31-day, global challenge to reduce and refuse single-use plastics." As a Certified B Corp, we are always looking for ways to promote sustainability and the Ecochallenge is a great way to bring people together to learn and promote plastic-free living.

    How does the Ecochallenge work? As they explain on their website, "throughout the Ecochallenge, share your progress, success, and reflections with fellow Ecochallengers, all while earning points for completed actions. The combination of collective inspiration, camaraderie, and friendly competition makes change a little easier - and a lot more fun. After all, progress is social!"

    Our team of 116 people was made up of ACHS staff, faculty, family, and friends. Out of the 383 teams that participated, we placed 9th overall, 2nd among schools, and 1st place in Oregon! 

    Here's a look at the impact our team made:

    Ecochallenge team impacts

    • 2,913 pieces of litter picked up
    • 558 plastic containers not sent to the landfill
    • 368 zero waste meals consumed
    • 8 documentaries watched
    • 7 petitions signed
    • And more! See the full impact results for the entire Ecochallenge here 

    Community Impact

    Our CMO Kate Harmon challenged us to reach 10,000 points in the challenge and the college would donate $1000 to a local farm with sustainable values: Mudbone Grown. We are excited to say that we far surpassed that goal...we earned 19676 points in the end!

    The college will also donate $500 to the organization of choice our top scoring student team member. Our winner, Lauren Steele, chose to donate to Ocean Matters, known for marine science through service. "This $500 donation would mean the world to them, especially during the difficult times brought on by Covid-19," Lauren says.

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    Working Towards Plastic Free

    In the Ecochallenge there are a large variety of actions to choose from that support plastic free living, from cutting out plastic drinking straws to hosting a plastic free movie viewing party. Throughout the month, team members were able to reflect on their plastic usage and share their tips with others in the team feed, as shown below.

    Lisa Warman EcochallengeSusan Marcus Ecochallenge

    Natalie Dewitt Ecochallenge

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    Pictured above: Dean of Students Natalie DeWitt with trash she collected on a walk in March. She has continued to collect more in her neighborhood whenever she gets the chance, and did so throughout the Ecochallenge!

    Plastic Free Webinar Series

    In support of the Ecochallenge, each week in July we hosted a webinar that features plastic free living and sustainability. In case you missed them, you can access the free recordings below: 

    • Plastic Free: Healthy Body, Healthy Planet - Dr. Jacqui McGrath

      Dr. Jacqui McGrath offers an evidence based review of some problems with plastics including mounting evidence that they are wreaking havoc with our health. 
    • Plant A Garden - Scott Wilson

      Scott Wilson aims to encourage beginners and those who have not gardened before. In it, he covers basics to getting started such as site selection, soil, watering, seeds and starts, fertilizers, pest control, harvest, and what to do with your harvest.
    • Travel Plastic Free: Tips to Reuse and Remove - Professor Lisa Warman

      Lisa is a member of the ACHS Sustainability Committee and an avid traveler.  After living in Florida for 37 years, she has seen the power plastic has on our beaches, wildlife, and the environment. Join Lisa as she shares some travel tips to reduce your use of plastics and increase your awareness while you explore new surroundings.
    • Plastic Free DIY: Making a Lotion Bar - Ashley Wales

      Ashley shows you how to make your own lotion bar and talking about how important it is to know what ingredients are in your skincare products.  She also shares about how it is important to be aware of what you are putting on your skin because it is the biggest organ of the body.
    •  Exploring Sustainable, Chemically Conscious Beauty and Business - Jess Goss

      Jess educates viewers on building a business that is centered on wellness, wholeness, and connection. Experience holistic, plastic free hair care in a whole new way.

    • Live Ecochallenge Results - Dr. Jacqui McGrath

      This short webinar will wrap up the final results of the Plastic Free Ecochallenge, and provide viewers with inspiration to continue living Plastic Free year round.

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    Moving Forward

    What does the future of plastic free living look like? ACHS Ecochallenge student winner Lauren reflected on this as the Ecochallenge came to and end:

    The big corporations all along the production chain, who are making billions of dollars selling items made out of or packaged within plastic, need to take responsibility and be accountable for the pollution that they create, not only in our air and water but on the ground, all over the world. They should not be allowed to make huge profits at the expense of consumers. 

    Each of us can do our best to reduce plastic usage in our own lives, but we must also look to the corporations along the plastic production chain to take responsibility for their actions and work to make change. This may sound overwhelming, but let's work together and take it one step at a time. 

    We'll leave you with the words of ACHS student Katarina Perich to inspire you: 

    I think it can often feel overwhelming, and you can feel like you’re not doing as much as you want to be doing. I think small changes are important. Even if it just means using a reusable bag and shifting in that direction. That would be the takeaway.

    What is one action you can take today to reduce plastic usage in your life? Let us know in the comments what your ideas are.

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