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Annual Climate Action Week and No Impact Challenge return to campus

From Feb. 17 to 24, Carleton’s Sustainability Office conducted its annual Climate Action Week (CAW) and No Impact Challenge, a series of campus events designed to raise awareness of environmental and sustainability issues. According to student organizers, this year’s Climate Action Week featured a smaller number of events but a more collaborative approach from various campus organizations and groups.

“In years past, we’ve had 25 events over the course of two weeks, put on by 18 different groups. This year, we really cut down the number of events [to seven] and encouraged groups to work together to organize events. While the types of events are the same as in previous years, this year’s CAW had fewer, but more collaborative options,” said Bex Klafter ’18, sustainability assistant (STA) and one of the Climate Action Week organizers.

Over the course of the week, Climate Action Week sponsored the showing of the international film, The River, and brought the film’s director, Juan Carlos Galeano, to speak on campus about indigenous Amazonian communities’ response to Climate Change, according to Klafter.

Emma Leither ’20, waste specialist for the sustainability office and organizer of the No Impact Challenge, added that “additionally, we worked with CANOE, Carls for the Boundary Waters, and Indigenous People’s Alliance to phonebank about important environmental justice issues, like the Line 3 Pipeline. We also worked with the GSC to put together a transgender clothing closet.”

Prior to the development of Climate Action Week, “it was ‘Dorm Wars,’ where students competed to use the least electricity and water,” said Klafter.

“When I was first hired as a STA my sophomore year, Natalie Jacobson and Emma Link and I and a few others took it upon ourselves to revitalize CAW. It had been pretty low-key in the past, so we put in a lot of work to put on a lot of events and work with as many groups as possible,” she added.

In addition to the other events offered during CAW, the Sustainability Office conducted the No Impact Challenge, where students, faculty and staff voluntarily collect their non-food waste and participate in a weigh-in at the end of the week in a competition to produce the least amount of waste.

Leither said, “The No Impact Challenge requires a lot of planning and publicizing, as we try to get as many students, faculty,and staff to sign up to collect their waste for the week.”

According to Leither, “The No Impact Challenge was run successfully for the third time. One hundred and thirty-five students and staff members across campus competed. The average participant produced 0.76 pounds of (non-food) waste in one week, while the average American produces 4.4 pounds of waste a day (including food).”

“Three participants went completely zero waste for the week, which was amazing,” Leither said.

Klafter said that “I think the challenge went well this year. It’s always astonishing how much waste I produce. Even though it was my third year participating, I felt like it was a good, and shocking, reminder of my impact.”

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