For the first 22 days of April, UNCG employees participated with hundreds of employees from 40 other institutions and companies across North Carolina in the “50 Actions for 50 Years Earth Day Challenge” sponsored by Earth Share North Carolina, a conglomerate of 70+ nonprofits in the state who share the goal of connecting people and resources to the conservation movement.
The “50for50 Challenge” encouraged participants to track their sustainable actions via the Joulebug mobile app, created by a Raleigh-based tech firm of the same name, that is designed “To make sustainable living social, simple, and actually fun.” For each of the 50 different sustainable actions a participant logged, like recycling or turning off the lights, the app provides energy use comparisons and reports the amount of water saved, waste diverted, and CO2 kept from entering the atmosphere.
“I have really enjoyed participating in this challenge,” said Dr. Courtney Harrington, director of the B.S. in Integrated Professional Studies (BIPS) and the Master in Applied Arts & Sciences (MAAS), both part of UNCG Online. “It’s been fascinating to see how little everyday things can add up to making an impact. I’ve made some new habits and cemented some old ones and this is great evidence that everything you do counts.”
In less than one month, just one dozen UNCG employees alone kept one ton of CO2 from entering the atmosphere, diverted 300 pounds of waste from the landfill, and saved over 3,500 gallons of water. All participants in the challenge combined to divert 48 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere, 4 tons of waste from the landfill, and saved over 120,000 gallons of water. According to the app, that’s equivalent to powering 63 homes for a month, eliminating 550 bags of garbage, and filling over 2,400 bathtubs.
“It is a good reminder that a lot of small choices can make a big impact,” said Melanie Carrico, associate professor in the Department of Consumer, Apparel, and Retail Studies. “And I learned things like selecting native plants for the garden can cut water use, equivalent to 530 five-minute showers a year!”
For those interested in tracking and measuring their own impact, the Joulebug app is available for free download in both the Apple and Google Play stores.
“I hope I can maintain some of the good habits I was not following but knew that I should have been following,” said Thomas Hefner, science teacher in Middle College at UNCG. “There are lots of little things I was not doing but have started that are easy to maintain with little effort. I have saved a lot of water and that in turn is also saving me money.”
Story by Sean MacInnes, UNCG Office of Sustainability