Drawdown EcoChallenge kicks off in April

The Drawdown EcoChallenge is “a fun and social way to take measurable action on the top solutions to global warming,” according to the site’s official description. The EcoChallenge, a 21-day program focused on reducing carbon dioxide output on the individual level, is based on the book Drawdown, edited by Paul Hawken.

Seton Hall students can help the university gain points in the EcoChallenge. Marie Leone/ Staff Photographer

The challenge at Seton Hall starts on April 3 and will run for 21 days, until April 24.

Each student can help Seton Hall University gain points by entering every environmentally-friendly action they take. Seton Hall stands to earn up to $2,000 in prizes if the University team wins, according to the Drawdown EcoChallenge website.

“Participants track and share their [environmentally-friendly actions] online in a robust platform and earn points for taking action,” the EcoChallenge website said.

Professor Wanda Knapik elaborated via email, “[the EcoChallenge is] a fun competition that all students, faculty and administration can participate in.”

This is the first year Seton Hall will participate in the EcoChallenge. When asked why the EcoChallenge was brought to Seton Hall, Professor Knapik said in a phone interview, “I was the one that initiated it … I am inspired by [Paul Hawken] and his vision for the world.”

Student Government Association (SGA) Senator Saveria Antonacci, a sophomore diplomacy and international relations major and environmental studies minor, commented on the challenge.

“Seton Hall has chosen to participate in this challenge because it provides a clear set of goals to center ourselves around,” Antonacci said. “I personally hope this brings about awareness in students and motivates them to be agents of change.

“We understand that SHU is not as eco-friendly as we would like it to be, and think this is a great way to commit students to the cause and encourage them to join Ecology Club and EPACC [Environmental Protection and Conservation Commission].”

“We could get global recognition, at Seton Hall University, if we win,” Knapik said. “It’s pretty amazing.”

When asked how students at Seton Hall reacted to learning about the challenge, Professor Knapik commented on her environmental studies students.

Professor Wanda Knapik (right) was inspired by Paul Hawken (left) to bring the EcoChallenge to Seton Hall. Photo courtesy of Wanda Knapik

“They’re super excited about it … I don’t know what other students are thinking or doing … but that’s what we’re trying to do, to raise awareness for students who aren’t on this path,” Knapik said.

Some Seton Hall students are interested in the challenge. Megan Ogilvie, a junior Asian studies and history major, said via text that while she has not heard of the Drawdown EcoChallenge, she would be interested in participating in it.

“I think it could encourage the student body to participate in more eco-friendly living,” Ogilvie said after learning of the EcoChallenge.

Knapik wants to amplify that interest. She described the choice to bring the EcoChallenge to Seton Hall.

“[It’s] because we want to raise awareness that individual actions by each student … it is adding up to a lot of impact,” Knapik said.

“We have an audience of students that are able to make changes in their lifestyle,” Knapik continued. “No small action goes unnoticed.

“We need to urgently address global warming and raise awareness about the solutions that are available today to reduce (draw down) the carbon out of the atmosphere. We all can individually and collectively do more, take action now, at home and on campus to lead a life that respects the Earth, [and] doesn’t contribute to further destruction.”

Knapik also emphasized that the EcoChallenge is not just for students, “anyone, the administration or faculty, can be part of the Seton Hall team.”

Marie Leone can be reached at marie.leone@student.shu.edu.

Author: Marie Leone

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