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Students compete in sustainability contest to learn, improve habits and win prizes

By Samantha Lauring

Section: News

October 13, 2017

SaveOhno, a competition to improve and promote sustainability efforts on college campuses, is happening at Brandeis from Oct. 9 to Oct. 21, coinciding with Global Climate Change week. Students can earn points by signing petitions, attending campus events, eating vegan for a day and more, working to support the environment and earn prizes from Patagonia.

SaveOhno, a national organization that runs competitions at many schools, works to advance environmental awareness including land and ocean conservation, air pollution and climate change, according to the their website.

Dylan Husted, who graduated from Babson College in 2017, created SaveOhno during his sophomore year with help from his roommate and close friends. Husted reached out to Mary Fischer, the manager of sustainability programs at Brandeis, to hold a SaveOhno at Brandeis. Several students Nick April ’18, Charlotte Lang ’19, Cameron Bechmann ’19 and Victor Bianchi ’19, students of Prof. Laura Goldin’s (ENVS) “Greening the Ivory Tower” class, are leading SaveOhno with Mary Fischer.

“SaveOhno.org uses gamification to motivate college students on climate change. Each participant has their own ‘Ohno,’ who represents the user’s future grandchild. They need you to act today in the real world to improve their future world, and SaveOhno provides a host of actions for participants to start doing that,” said April.

“The Goal of SaveOhno is to engage many students, who may not be normally active in sustainability, in real action that will measurably change their understanding, attitudes and behavior, and have a significant and lasting impact on sustainability at Brandeis and beyond,” said Fischer.

In the competition, there are various ways for participants to earn points, which try to make them become increasingly active in being sustainable. Students can start by signing petitions, and liking pages on social media, then move to volunteering, participating in events—like deiSic or an event on the rooftop farm—and more, according to April. Students can find new actions daily on the SaveOhno website.

There was a screening in the SCC on Oct. 11 of the documentary “True Cost,” which is about how the fashion industry makes their products. Other ways to earn points include performing environmentally friendly actions, such as eating vegan meals, turning lights off and attending events like deiSic, the rooftop farm or a Students for Environmental Action (SEA) meeting, which meets Wednesdays at 8 p.m.

Brandeis has 30 teams, with 22 actively participating, who, combined, have earned more than 98,000 points from 1,000 actions in three days, noted April. Any club, department, club or group on campus can form a team to participate. Team sizes are unlimited and can include students, faculty and staff.

The first place team with the most points will win custom embroidered Patagonia fleeces and the second place team will win reusable bamboo to-go utensils.

Fischer is working closely with DCL to run another SaveOhno competition between the first-year residence hall quads. This competition will launch in November and “will be focused specifically on getting our first-year students engaged in sustainability to help shape their knowledge and understanding for the rest of their time at Brandeis,” noted Fischer.

This is the first time Brandeis is holding a SaveOhno competition, and if students enjoy it and find it valuable, they can submit a Brandeis Sustainability Fund (BSF) proposal online in order to fund future sustainability competitions, claimed Fischer. BSF is a fund students can use for campus sustainability projects.

Several other college campuses, such as Wellesley, Harvard and Middlebury have had SaveOhno competitions on campus and North Carolina State University is launching one this November, said April, who also noted that “with the help of strategic sponsors, SaveOhno is looking to bring in 10 new colleges this spring, and hundreds after that.”

Brandeis has hosted other sustainability competitions in the past, including competitions between the first year quads, upperclassman buildings or academic/administrative buildings to reduce their energy usage and waste production.

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