Brock students go green in Welcome Back Sustainability Challenge

The rules of Brock University’s first-ever sustainability challenge were simple, but the initiative was big: encourage students to be more environmentally minded.

Launched last month in partnership with Blackstone Energy Services, the Welcome Back Sustainability Challenge encouraged students to log their sustainable actions over a two-week period on the Blackstone Energy app. The goal of the challenge was to engage the student community in contributing to sustainability at Brock through a contest and highlight ways to easily integrate sustainable solutions into everyday life.

“The idea behind this initiative was to introduce challenges to create awareness and develop new habits among the Brock community,” said Brock University District Energy Manager Drew Cullen. “Everyday actions we take matter, and we wanted our community to visualize the impact that their actions can have.”

Those actions included simple steps such as turning the tap off when brushing your teeth, composting, air drying clothes and dishes, buying local, and much more.

“Providing opportunities for students to engage in sustainable actions and initiatives in their everyday lives has been a goal of ours and we are thrilled that this sustainability challenge allowed students to do that in a fun and interactive way,” said Amanda Smits, Centre Administrator at the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre.

The rules were simple: log all sustainable actions made throughout the day on the Blackstone Energy app to accumulate points. The five students who accumulated the most points by the end of the competition won prizes such as an Apple iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, a $100 gift card to Bioterra Eco Shop and a $50 gift card donated from the Campus Store.

Students who took part were excited to share how the challenge impacted their day-to-day lives.

“I am glad I had the opportunity to be a part of this challenge, as it was a nice way to see how much of an impact I can make on the environment by doing regular everyday things,” said first place winner Sarah Al Aido.

Second-place finisher Mariam Al Aido said even though the contest is over, she’s is continuing to take the conservation steps she did during the contest.

“It has motivated me into becoming more aware of my ecological footprint, even after the challenge is over,” she said. “I found the challenge really amazing and actually eye opening on the things that I already do in my day-to-day life that impact sustainability in a positive way. My most-logged action was reusing my water bottle, as I never use plastic bottles.”

Third-year Nursing student Emilie Fortier finished third in the contest.

In all, 281 people participated in the challenge and logged nearly 14,000 sustainable actions.

“Sometimes people get discouraged doing the small things by thinking they don’t make a difference,” said Mary Quintana, Director of Asset Management and Utilities at Brock. “The competition has helped show the community that every action does count, especially when it comes to sustainability.”

The app estimated 13 tons of CO2 and 24,000 gallons of water was saved through the actions of students in the contest.

Students from a variety of disciplines and programs joined in on the challenge, with many of the top competitors coming from the Department of Nursing, including third-place place winner Emilie Fortier.

“I really enjoyed using the app to add in actions throughout the day,” she said. “It kept me engaged and demonstrated the difference I was making for the environment.”

The goal of the Welcome Back Sustainability Challenge was to showcase how easy it is to make small, yet impactful, sustainable choices every day. Students are encouraged to continue taking eco-friendly actions to reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to the health of the environment.

This Brock News story was written by Alexandra Cotrufo, a Research Assistant working in the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre.

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