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Can YOU take on the Challenge?

coffee cups.
water bottles.
how long can you live without?

Do you think you can do better than we did? We’re looking for new players for the May No Impact Challenge.

As you may know from reading the blog, the purpose of the No Impact Challenge to reduce the use of single-use disposable items. For each single-use item taken, the player receives 1 point. The goal is to get the lowest score by the end of the game. We shared our experiences. Now you can share yours.

Interested in playing? Sign up here or attend the
Kresge 2430 at 8 pm
Tuesday, May 3

We look forward to seeing some new faces!

April 30, 2011 at 11:01 pm Leave a comment

Celebrating Earth Week at Northwestern

Its almost here! As some of you may know, next Friday, a week from today, is Earth Day. Leading up to Friday, we encourage all of you BaglessNU readers to celebrate Earth Week with us! If you’ve been reading the blog and wanted to learn more about the campaign or just want to do more to become more sustainable… now is the time!

Here’s a list of 10 things you can do to celebrate Earth Week:

  1. Bring a reusable bag with you and skip the plastic (or paper for that matter).
  2. Decline a paper cup at Norbucks and use a reusable one instead.
  3. Take on the No Impact Challenge for one week.
  4. Be a guest blogger! (email with a short bio and photo to sign up)
  5. Sport a “Go Bagless” pin — you can pick one up from Liz Derby or at a BaglessNU event.
  6. Go to the free screening of Bag It on Thursday, April 21 at 7pm in Harris 107. RSVP on Facebook!
  7. Follow BaglessNU on twitter and tweet about going green @BaglessNU using #NoImpactNU.
  8. “Like” BaglessNU on Facebook and share your favorite No Impact Challenge blog post with your friends.
  9. Check out Mount Trashmore on Friday, April 22 from 11-3pm on Sheridan Road (in front of Lunt Hall) to see how much trash NU creates in one day.
  10. Attend a weekly meeting of one of NU’s environmental groups! (The Policy Center for Energy and the Environment (BaglessNU) meets Wednesdays at 6:30pm in University 318, SEED meets on Tuesdays at 9pm in the Arch Room in Norris, ESW meets on Tuesdays at 8pm in Ford, ECO meets in the lobby of Hillel at 1 pm on Sundays)
Happy Earth Week! Go green!

April 15, 2011 at 1:44 pm Leave a comment

Saying No to Norris

by Liz Derby

If there’s one thing Northwestern students love to do its complain …ahem…

Norris Center, the thing students complain about more than not getting into Harvard

use constructive criticism. Some students groan about the Chicago winters, while others whine about their hectic schedules, but at some point or another every NU student has taken aim at one place in particular on campus: Norris University Center.

Some harp on the student center’s less than ideal location while others comment on the cold slab-style architecture.  Even with improvements to the lower cafeteria level of Norris since I’ve been at Northwestern, the basement’s

Sbarro, one of the many places in Norris that serves food on disposable plates

cave-like qualities still leave something to be desired. But the most frustrating thing about Norris that I’ve noticed since the challenge began is that there is not one place that will serve you food on a reusable plate.

Being the overly involved Northwestern student that I am, Norris is like a second home. Lately, however, I have had to bid this second home adieu and walk back and forth from my apartment more times than I would like. Why? Because the points I would gain from grabbing a slice of Sbarro or a veggie burger to go aren’t worth it.  And, lets be frank, I have to eat at some point.

Its not only Norris, actually, but all campus venues, apart from the dining halls, that only serve food items in disposable containers or wrapping. If you live off-campus, as most juniors and seniors do, you most likely aren’t on a meal plan, thus have less access to dining halls. Of course any student could pay some outrageous amount to eat dinner at 1835 Hinman (a dining hall), but most resort to places like Norris instead out of convenience and price.

Part of the problem with changing the system is that Northwestern contracts out its food service to the notoriously hard to work with Sodexo. Students at NU have already butted heads with the company over paying campus workers higher wages and presumably, getting the company to change its practices on disposable food packaging would not be an easy battle. However, I think its something worth fighting for.

When I think of the waste I have avoided by eating at home rather than school, it makes me think about how much waste we would avoid as a university if everyone took on this challenge.  In a normal week I might have eaten lunch on campus 2-3 times, gotten coffee in a disposable cup 4-5 times, and bought dinner another 2-3 times. If you multiply that times 8,000 … its a pretty big number. I’m not saying that everyone is as much of a Norris

This is my plate, knife, and coffee mug I kept with me all weekend at the Roosevelt Equal Justice Conference

connoisseur as I am, but a lot of students are, not necessarily because they want to be wasteful, but because there aren’t a lot of other options.

This challenge has made me much more conscious of the impact of my actions. At first I had to make an effort to adjust my routine, but now many of these things have become habit. Like Zach, I’m always carrying around my coffee mug, a reusable bag, and some silverware. It was strange at first, but now making sure I’m prepared with tupperware is just as second nature as making sure I have my keys and wallet.

Just a note to anyone that does want to take on this challenge, we are currently accepting applicants for a May round of the No Impact Challenge. Email your name, a photo, and short 2-3 sentence bio to if you want to play.

April 13, 2011 at 3:24 pm Leave a comment

Let the No Impact Challenge begin…

by Liz Derby

So you may be wondering, what is the No Impact Challenge? and how did it come about?

Lets start from the very beginning. Last year, Northwestern student Liz Miller wrote a policy for the Roosevelt Institute focused on reducing the use of plastic bags through a bag tax.  Meanwhile, ECO (Environmental Campus Outreach), another NU student group was working on a similar project to reduce the use of plastic bags. Collaboration between the two groups lead forming the BaglessNU Campaign at the end of Fall quarter.

While BaglessNU tends to focus specifically on eliminating the use of plastic bags, we realized, as a group, that we should also cut down on the use of any item that we use just once and then throw away.  We wondered: what would happen if we skipped the paper cups at Norbucks and dined in the restaurant rather than getting take-out? What if we counted every one-time-use items up at the end of everyday to see what sort of environmental impact we were making? Thus, we decided to start this challenge.

1 month. 12 players. Countless ways to cut back.

Today is the first day of our challenge. So far, I’ve had a cup of coffee at home instead of at a coffee shop and used a cloth towel rather than a paper towel. Needless to say, I haven’t been awake for too many hours to have made any other substitutions, but, not to worry, we’ll keep you updated. Each day one (or more) of the 12 players will blog about their experience with the challenge: when its been hard to stick to their goals, when its been easier than expected, and everything else in between.

To the rest of the players, good luck! To other readers, I encourage you to join us — challenge yourself to decrease your impact. Tell us about your stories by tweeting @BaglessNU and using #NoImpactNU!


April 1, 2011 at 6:52 pm Leave a comment

No Impact Challenge for May 2012!

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Tracking the Challenge

August 2020