Q. What is Ecofest?
A. Ecofest is a fun, participatory series of events geared
towards the themes of sustainability, reduction of the human footprint
on the environment and education about biodiversity and the current
crisis in biodiversity loss.
Q. What is biodiversity?
A. The term “biodiversity” refers to the diversity of plant and animal life in an ecosystem or in the world as a whole. At present, Earth’s biodiversity is a suffering losses at accelerating and historic rates due primarily to human activities.
Q. Who can participate in Ecofest?
A. Everyone! Students, staff, and faculty at Boston University,
friends from near and far, long-lost relatives and anyone in between.
Q. When is Ecofest?
A. The main events run from April 15 -- 22, 2012. Check our website calendar and Facebook page for activities before and after those dates.
Q. What is the motivation behind
A. The United Nations declared 2010 The International Year of Biodiversity. We want to celebrate a spirit of ecological sustainability and awareness. Humans are an integral part of nature and our fate is tightly linked with the entire diversity of life. We need to work together now to safeguard this irreplaceable natural wealth and reduce biodiversity loss. Last year, 2011, was the International Year of Forests, this year is The International Year of Energy Sustainability for All, and our work continues...
Q. Is the loss of a few species
really such a big deal?
A. Yes! Unfortunately we don’t even know how big of a deal
it is. For example, most of our prescription drugs come from animals and plants,
many of which are now endangered. The present loss of species is
like losing an entire library before we’ve even catalogued or read the books. Further, it’s not just “a
few species”; estimates of the present extinction rate are
one hundred or more times greater than the normal extinction rate
seen in the fossil record but on a time scale that is much shorter.
So the present extinction event is beginning to compare to the mass
extinction 65 million years ago, which wiped out 75% of species,
including the dinosaurs. We need to take action now.
Q. How are the Ecofest events
connected to the biodiversity crisis?
A. It is human consumption of energy and natural resources that
is polluting the environment and causing habitat loss, two factors
that are driving the biodiversity crisis. By bringing our own cup
around for coffee and water, we reduce the consumption of paper/Styrofoam
cups and plastic water bottles, and start replacing our throw-away
mentality with the idea of sustainability. By eating local we reduce
the greenhouse gas emissions required to ship food from across the
country or from around the world. By eating organic we reduce the
need for herbicides and pesticides, which pollute ecosystems and
Q. Why are there so many events?
A. In part to show that there are many ways an individual can make
a difference and in part to show that we must change many of our
habits and behaviors. Small incremental changes can add up to a big difference.
The US has 4% of the world’s population but 22% of the world’s
energy consumption – we just can’t go on like this.
Q. Can all these small “events”
or actions really make a difference?
A. We think so. If these actions are done on their own, the difference
will be small. But if they are done over and over, and if friends,
colleagues and family are encouraged to do them together with us,
then the difference can be significant. Plus, thinking about small changes on a daily basis will hopefully create a mindset that large-scale change is possible. It’s our Earth and
we need to start practicing good stewardship that will protect our
environment for generations to come.
Q. I’m a busy student with
three papers due this week and two exams, you don’t expect
me to participate do you?
A. We’re busy students (and faculty) too! Ecofest is about tuning into our behavior and our daily choices. Some of our events are so easy you can do them in the bathroom
(take a shorter shower, turn off the water when you brush your teeth,
cut your paper towel use in half), others you can do while you’re
studying (turn off all the lights you’re not using, unplug
unused power grabbers, put your computer into sleep mode when you’re
taking a break) and still others you can do between classes or on
your way home (take the stairs, bring a re-usable bag to the grocery
store). Changing our consumptive behavior is easier than you think. Some of our events take a little planning and research (eating local, tell a friend about an endangered species), which is why we're allowing sign-ups beginning on April 1 so that you can plan ahead.
Q. I do many of these activities
anyway, why should I join Ecofest?
A. By participating with us, you’ll help bring awareness to
the need for us all to work together to reduce our impact on the
environment. We need you to stand up and be counted! By talking
about your actions with others, you could inspire them to get involved
and we can build some much-needed momentum to make large, positive
changes. Plus, you’ll have a chance to win some cool prizes!
Q. Prizes? What prizes?
A. Our emphasis is on participation, but we do have cool prizes like passes to the Museum of Science, eco-friendly yoga mats from Kulae.com, gift certificates to restaurants that serve local food and DVDs of the awesome Planet Earth series. (For our beyond-BU participants, unfortunately, prizes are limited to Boston University students, faculty and staff. But don't let that stop you for participating and even challenging your friends to participate.)
Q. How does the point system work?
A. Ecofest is based on the honor system. When you register,
you’ll be allotted a certain number of possible points according
to the number of events you register for. Registering for more events
will put you in the running for better prizes. At the end of the week, you can log back in and claim your points according to what you accomplished. Prizes will be awarded
via a lottery system. We value your participation and wish you good
luck -- we hope you win!
Q. What is Carbonrally?
A. Thanks to the efforts of the good people at Sustainability@BU,
Boston University has joined Carbonrally, an organization that incorporates
a social bent to reducing carbon emissions. Here’s what Sustainability@BU
has to say about Carbonrally: “The folks at Carbonrally took
their knowledge of consumers, software, and environmental studies
and created new approaches to the global crisis by building a portal
where people can discover, commit, and track small actions over
time.” It’s free and fun!
Q. Why should I sign up for Carbonrally
too? Isn’t joining Ecofest enough?
A. We recommend that when you sign up for the Ecofest you also
sign up for Carbonrally. Carbonrally has many of the same events
as Ecofest and through them and their challenges you’ll
be able to find out much more information about your actions than
we at Ecofest could provide. By being part of Carbonrally
you can accrue points for your school and try to win the monthly
prize. Go for it!
Q. I’ve got an idea for an
event. Want to hear it?
A. Yes! Post it on our Facebook page wall, or email
us directly and we’ll keep it in mind when we plan next
Q. I want to do more. What can I
A. Keep going with Carbonrally. Talk to your friends and family
about your concerns. Rent a documentary that focuses on biodiversity
or the human impact on the environment. Join one of the green groups
on campus. Start reading a green blog. Create your own green blog.
Post news about biodiversity on your Facebook or social networking
page. Watch where every dollar you spend goes. Find out how your
bank is investing your money and if you’re not satisfied,
find a greener bank. Reduce, re-use, re-cycle. Think before print.
Eat in rather than forcing the restaurant to generate waste via
take-out. Trade and re- use clothes with friends. Request that your
office use less air- conditioning. Take the train or bus instead
of the plane for short trips. Find out what is going on at the civic,
state and national level to safeguard biodiversity and fight for
it. Lobby for green energy. Boycott corporations that pollute the
environment. Start an Ecofest at your neighborhood K-12 school.
Stay positive. Support green companies...
Check out our resources for more ideas.