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Competing for Team Earth

Second annual Ecolympics begins tomorrow

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Ecolympics chair Daniel Hudon, a CAS Core Curriculum science lecturer, shares reasons for joining.

BU generates 5,500 tons of waste every six months, but only 15 percent of it gets recycled. For the next two weeks, beginning tomorrow, April 1, you can help improve your carbon footprint and win big prizes during the University’s second annual Ecolympics.

“I believe that everyone can make a difference in bettering our environment. The problem is that not many people know how to start,” says Jillian Ferraro (CAS’13), one of the event’s organizers. “By competing in Ecolympics, I’m hoping that people will realize that there are little steps they can take that will make a big impact.”

This year’s Ecolympics has expanded from one week to two. During that time students, staff, and faculty will compete against one another to complete the most number of eco-events. This year, Ecolympics has 26 events spanning 5 categories: sustainability, energy, water, food, and biodiversity.

Among the competitions: Eco-coffee, which encourages people to use their own eco-friendly coffee cup when buying coffee; Plastic Schmastic, which challenges participants to go plastic-free for a week; TV-Free (you guessed it, no TV); and Veggie-Mania, which urges people to eat a couple of vegetables they’ve never tried before as a way to keep agricultural biodiversity alive.

This year’s Ecolympics includes external activities as well. A screening tonight, at CAS Room B-36, of the 2009 documentary Home, which chronicles the ways humanity has upset the planet’s ecological balance, kicks off the competition. A one-hour fitness walk, at the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain, begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 2. Among the other events is an urban hike along the Riverway with local guide Jef Taylor on Sunday, April 3, from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

Event chair Daniel Hudon, a science lecturer in the College of Arts & Sciences Core Curriculum, says he is especially excited about a fair-trade seminar presented by the fair-trade group Equal Exchange on Wednesday, April 13, at 6 p.m. “They will be explaining the whole process of fair trade, why we should be interested in it, and the effects of fair trade on society,” says Hudon. “They will also be bringing fair-trade chocolate.”

Last year’s event attracted 200 participants, and coordinators are hoping to double that number this year. They say that because small changes are important, student participation in even a few events can make a difference.

“I think the biggest misconception people have is that it’s too difficult to make these changes,” says Ferraro. “When people think about helping the environment, they think about energy, planting trees, saving the rain forest, and things like that. Ecolympics is helping to change this misconception by giving participants small changes they can easily make without being overwhelmed.”

Students can register for specific events online, and then log on each week to claim points for the events they completed. At the end of the Ecolympics, prizes are given out in each point bracket, based on a lottery system. Prizes this year include gift certificates to Greenward, an eco-boutique in Cambridge, Taza Chocolate, which sells organic chocolate, and Peace o’ Pie, a gourmet vegan pizza restaurant, and yoga mats from Kulae.com, an eco-friendly yoga gear store.

Ecolympics coordinators are also encouraging students to sign up with Carbonrally to continue participating in eco-events after the Ecolympics is over. Boston University has a partnership with Carbonrally to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by having BU’s colleges compete against one another in eco-challenges.

The Ecolympics runs from Friday, April 1, to Friday, April 15. 

The documentary Home will be shown on Thursday, March 31, at 7 p.m. in College of Arts & Sciences Room B-36, 725 Commonwealth Ave. More information about other Ecolympics events can be found here.

Allison Thomasseau can be reached at althoma@bu.edu.

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