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  1. Congratulations ~ thank you for completing the iSEE Plastic Free Challenge!

    Associated Project(s): 

    Good afternoon and Happy Earth Month! Once again, congratulations on completing the Plastic Free Challenge. We are proud of you for taking the steps to become more conscious of your waste and dedicating your time to reflect on and change these habits. 
     

    As a group, we decreased our average plastic waste by 37% from week 1 to week 4. Many participants decreased their weekly waste even more; one participant decreased their weekly waste by as much as 110% and several others received fewer than 0 points for an entire week! These accomplishments, among many others, are incredibly impressive!
     

    If you submitted a google form with your grid during this past month, please keep an eye on your inbox for a certificate of completion for the Plastic Free Challenge. As mentioned many times throughout the challenge, we hope you consider checking out the Waste Reduction @ Illinois Facebook group to stay connected with fellow participants, start a discussion, hear about the latest sustainability opportunities at U of I and beyond, and share tips for living sustainably going forward.
     

    On Wednesday, we used a random name generator to choose two winners of the challenge. As a reminder, you received one entry for every week you participated in the challenge. The winners are Bartek Susol and Jessica Lillegaard. Winners, we will contact you on how to receive your prize! Congratulations to you two and, of course, to all participants! We hope you enjoyed your time during the challenge! We sure did, and we are here to assure you that this will certainly not be the last challenge that iSEE hosts.
     

    Again, we offer our congratulations to each of you for completing this challenge. We know it was time-intensive and not always easy, but it was certainly worth it. We hope you continue to make environmentally-conscious choices and apply the many things you have learned over the past month. It is equally as important to share what you have learned with friends, family, and peers. As we discussed at the Ted Talk: Eco-Edition event on Tuesday, being an environmental hero does not have to be changing the world with a single action. You are an environmental hero by reducing your own environmental footprint and helping others do the same. Write to your politicians, store managers, or leaders, encouraging them to prioritize sustainability. Show that there is a demand for these initiatives. Building a culture of sustainability on our campus and in our world starts with you!
     

    A great place to start (or continue this great momentum) is attending any of the countless events for Earth Month iSEE and other campus and community entities. Here is the link to the calendar: Earth Month Calendar. We are constantly adding more events, even beyond April. Please submit an item to the calendar if you notice something missing. Coming up this Wednesday, we have a campus trash pickup! Check out the calendar for more info. If you can't join us on campus, consider joining with a few friends or family members (or go on your own) and pick up trash in your own neighborhood and community. It can be a fun, COVID-safe, springtime event.
     

    As always, please reach out to us with any questions, comments, or feedback, and stay tuned for more exciting events in the future. We look forward to hearing from you soon.
     

    Take care!

    Meredith Moore, iSEE Sustainability Programs Coordinator
    Emily Dickett, iSEE Sustainability Intern

  2. Congratulations for completing the Plastic Free Challenge!

    Good afternoon, Congratulations on completing the Plastic Free Challenge! You should be incredibly proud of yourself for your dedication to waste reduction this past month. We hope this challenge revealed some of your personal waste habits and prompted you to think about actions you can incorporate into your lives (and encourage others to incorporate!) to decrease your personal environmental footprint. Please don’t forget to share what you have learned this past month with friends, family, and peers. Keep up the momentum!

    If you have not already, be sure to submit your Week 4 Google Form by Monday, March 29. Please submit a photo or short video of a sustainability action or tip that you are proud of from this past month or would like to share with others. As mentioned last week, we will reach out to you one last time on Thursday with some exciting announcements: the raffle winners and statistics on how we did as a group reducing our plastic waste over the past month. 

    Although grid and point-tracking are no longer required actions, we hope you continue to be conscious of your plastic use this week and beyond. We are very impressed with everyone’s insightfulness and reflection during this challenge - don’t stop now!

    We hope you continue to keep in touch with us and reach out with any questions or comments; we always love talking about sustainability and would be thrilled to discuss with you further! Earth Month is right around the corner - please check out the continuously-updated sustainability calendar of events (both virtual and in-person opportunities). To close out the March Plastic Free Challenge, we hope you join us this Tuesday, March 30 from 7-8 pm for our second Ted Talk: Eco-Edition event, hosted by senior Maddy Liberman and F&S/ISTC staff member, Shantanu Pai. This month, the focus will be on plastics. Together we will watch a pre-recorded Ted Talk followed by a casual discussion and roundtable. Sign up here to register for this online event.

    Be sure to sign the "Use the Bin" pledge to commit to sustainable action and personally pledge that you ensure your recyclable items always make it into the appropriate receptacle. Thank you for a great month, and congratulations once again! Have a wonderful week and talk to you on Thursday.

    Meredith Moore, iSEE Sustainable Programs Coordinator
    Emily Dickett, iSEE Sustainability Intern

  3. Week 4 - Tips and Resources

    Associated Project(s): 

    Good afternoon! We are feeling bittersweet that this is our last week of the first Plastic Free Challenge. We are so grateful and impressed by each and every one of you for your participation and focus throughout this month’s challenge. There are 139 of you registered for the challenge; together, we make up a beautiful community of individuals on our way to living a life with less plastic! 

    Our final tip of the challenge is a guide on how to live sustainably beyond the challenge. In a few days, you will no longer have to tally your plastic items or receive emails every week to hold you accountable, reminding you to keep up the hard work. The attached guide contains tips for moving forward. We encourage you to reflect on your own. Did you discover something interesting or helpful? Did you try something new? As always, we’d love to hear and we also hope you share this knowledge with friends, family, and the Waste Reduction @ Illinois Facebook group if you choose!

    One next step outlined in the attached guide is Plastic Free July -- a global movement uniting against plastic use. Plastic Free July is observed by millions of people across the world and it is similar to this challenge as you will receive resources and play a part in a broader community of sustainable individuals. If you enjoyed this challenge, we highly encourage you to check out Plastic Free July!

    As this month-long challenge is coming to an end, we are sure you are all wondering what comes next. We will check in again on Sunday reminding everyone to submit their Week 4 Google Form and grid. In the meantime, try estimating your plastic footprint. Did it change since the beginning of the challenge? After the grids are all submitted, we will raffle off two sustainability packs using a random name generator. Your name will be entered one time for each week you participated in the challenge and submitted a grid. Next Thursday, we will reveal the winners and also include statistics on how we did as a group throughout the challenge. 

    Don’t worry, this won’t be the last time you hear from us. April - Earth Month - is right around the corner and there is a lot to look forward to. We will talk to you again on Sunday - finish strong and have a great rest of the week! 

    Meredith Moore, iSEE Sustainable Programs Coordinator

    Emily Dickett, iSEE Sustainability Intern

  4. Week 4 - Plastic Free Challenge

    Associated Project(s): 

    Happy second day of spring, We would have loved to see an Illini win this afternoon, but what a great year for the Illinois men’s basketball team! Welcome to the final week of the Plastic Free Challenge! We cannot believe how quickly March is flying by and we are so grateful for your dedication to the process of tracking and reducing your plastic waste. You have one week left to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and try something new to decrease your waste! If you find that you have managed to either recycle or reuse items in your daily life, why not try something new by helping someone else or sharing a few tips with us! If you have not already, please submit your Week 3 Google Form by Monday, March 22.

    This Thursday, we will send the final tip of the challenge: how to go forward and live sustainably, even when the Plastic Free Challenge ends. You did not do all of this hard work to revert back to using disposable items or for “points”; now, it is time to use what you have learned and help others in their own path to waste minimalism. We encourage you to start thinking about what tips you will incorporate in your daily lives, what you still plan to work on and work toward, and everything you have learned this past month. Until then, enjoy your final week. As a group, let’s try to generate the least amount of points this week compared to the rest of the month!

    Here is the Week 4 Form. Please submit the form and grid by Monday, March 29. We look forward to checking in on Thursday with information about the end of the challenge, including the prize raffle. As you will see on the Week 3 and Week 4 Google forms, we are encouraging each of you to please send a photo or short video of a new sustainable action, story, or image that encompasses "plastic-free living" for you. For example, you can show off your bulk purchases or containers, recycling or composting in action, or even a reusable item that you regularly use instead of a disposable/single-use product. Don't worry about producing a high-quality video - this is supposed to be fun and not stressful! Feel free to upload this to the form or email us.

    Remember to reach out with questions, comments, or stories about your challenge experience. Do you have any feedback for us? Is there anything you particularly enjoyed or would like to see changed? We would love to hear!

    Have a great week and finish strong! 

    Meredith Moore, iSEE Sustainable Programs Coordinator
    Emily Dickett, iSEE Sustainability Intern

  5. Week 3 - Tips and Resources

    Associated Project(s): 

    Good morning! How do you feel about this rain we are having in central Illinois? It is Thursday and you know what that means...time for our plastic-free check-in! We have a few extra resources and tips to share with you today. You are almost done with Week 3 of the Plastic Free Challenge. There is just over one week left until the end of the challenge. We are sad to realize this, too. We love communicating with you and building our community of sustainability enthusiasts. How have you improved since Week 1? What more do you have to learn?

    We are extremely proud of you all for submitting your grids, emailing about what you are learning, sending details about helpful resources you have utilized, and setting some great goals throughout the challenge thus far. The goal of this challenge, other than reducing plastic waste of course, is to become more conscious of our waste overall and to find tips and tools to aid the journey toward a plastic-free lifestyle (and help others do the same). We are excited to see what more we can accomplish as a group in the next week!

    This week, let's focus on avoiding plastics in the kitchen, including purchasing groceries, cooking, storing food, cleaning, and more. Have you realized how heavily food products are packaged? This is an important component to target as you reflect on your daily waste habits and plan ahead. The attached tip guide includes ways to avoid plastic shopping bags, heavily packaged food products, plastic cleaning supplies, and more. We provided tips on how to store food without plastic, how to cook and serve food sustainably - all ideas that we hope you discuss with friends, roommates, and family members, too. Also, don’t forget to purchase in bulk: the Harvest Market in Champaign and Urbana Co-Op are two options close to campus. No matter where you are located, plan ahead and call your local grocery stores or co-ops to ask about their bulk purchasing options.

    Please remember to submit your Week 3 Google Form by Monday, March 22. Feel free to reach out with any questions, comments, or concerns at any time. We truly enjoy hearing from you all. As a reminder, at any time throughout the challenge (especially if you have recently joined!), you can revisit any of our emails or resources that have been distributed to the group in this Box folder. This folder can also be found by scrolling down to "More Information" on the iSEE Plastic Free Challenge webpage

    Enjoy the rest of your week and we will talk to you again on Sunday. Go Illini basketball!!

    Meredith Moore, iSEE Sustainable Programs Coordinator
    Emily Dickett, iSEE Sustainability Intern

  6. Week 3 - Plastic Free Challenge

    Associated Project(s): 

    Good afternoon! Did you remember to change your clocks this morning? Hopefully you are ready for another great week of challenging yourself to track and reduce your plastic waste! You are officially halfway through the Plastic Free Challenge! How does it feel? Meticulously tracking your plastic use for two weeks now is a lot to celebrate. Now is a great time to reflect on what you have learned so far, what resources and new lifestyle changes you have learned, and what you still want to work on in the next two weeks. Please remember to submit your Week 2 Google Form with an uploaded grin (attached) as soon as possible - though no later than Monday, March 15. As a group, we have already decreased our waste significantly -- let’s keep it up!

    This week, in addition to refusing, repurposing, and recycling plastic, we encourage each of you to dedicate time to challenge yourself to commit to a new, environmentally-conscious action. Whether it be having a discussion with a roommate about consumerism, watching a documentary on plastic, or picking up litter, "negative point" opportunities are a great way to help the environment even further and spread awareness of the detrimental effects of plastic (while, of course, helping lower your point total for the week, too).

    Have you been committing to environmental actions that we don’t have on our point list yet? Share it with us - we’d love to hear! We are also interested in knowing why you all are participating!

    Here is the Week 3 form; please submit this with your weekly grid by Monday, March 22. We will check in with you again on Thursday with more tips on how to reduce your plastic waste! As a reminder, at any time throughout the challenge (especially if you have recently joined!), you can revisit any of our emails or resources that have been distributed to the group at this Box folder. This folder can also be found by scrolling down to "More Information" on the iSEE Plastic Free Challenge webpage.


    Have a fantastic week!

    Meredith Moore, iSEE Sustainable Programs Coordinator 

    Emily Dickett, iSEE Sustainability Intern

  7. Week 2 - Tips and Resources

    Associated Project(s): 

    Hello! You are almost halfway through the Plastic Free Challenge - wow! With over 130 of us participating, in just two weeks we have already created positive change in our community and world. Think of all the plastic waste we have avoided and the waste we will continue to reduce over the next two weeks! 

    We loved hearing about your experiences during the first week, and we are very impressed with your insightful comments and creative ideas, such as switching to dryer balls instead of single-use dryer sheets and creating your own self-care products instead of buying plastic containers (even though they may be recyclable!). Many of you have great goals for this week, such as going one whole day without generating any waste (and not compensating by throwing away more the day before or after) and going on a walk to pick up litter every day. Keep it up!

    This week, let’s continue trying to target plastic waste with purchasing power and when you are out and about. Avoiding single-use plastics is tough, especially during this COVID-19 period when some stores are not allowing customers to bring reusable coffee cups or bags. We urge you to ask, or write to, the stores you shop at to revisit their reusable items policy, as many stores have recently lifted their ban on reusable items. Communication is key, and it shows that people want to do the right thing. Not sure how to start buying in bulk? Here is a great step-by-step guideCheck out the attached "Week 2 Tip Guide" for more details and ideas on how to earn "negative" points for the week.

    Please remember to submit the Week 2 Google Form and upload your grid by Monday, March 15. We have reattached the grid and point system if needed. As always, please reach out to us with any questions, comments, or feedback. If you recently signed up for the challenge, or if you wish to revisit our previous emails/resources, check out this Box folder.

    We look forward to checking in with you again on Sunday. And remember,

    "Plan ahead . . . bring reusables instead!"

    Craving more resources? Check out UPSTREAM and this great list: 

    Thank you!

    Meredith Moore, iSEE Sustainability Programs Coordinator 

    Emily Dickett, iSEE Sustainability Intern

     

  8. Week 2 - Plastic Free Challenge

    Associated Project(s): 

    Hello! We hope you are having a nice weekend and enjoying the warmer weather. Congratulations on completing Week 1 of the Plastic Free Challenge! How does it feel? Did anything in particular surprise you during Week 1? We have already learned a lot about our daily habits and are excited to get started on Week 2. Hopefully, we will decrease our waste each week, both as individuals and as a group. If you have not already, please remember to submit your Week 1 Google Form with an uploaded grid (attached) as soon as possible, though no later than Monday morning.

    We encourage you to reflect on your Week 1 waste and perhaps set some new goals for Week 2. Maybe that means remembering to keep a reusable water bottle on hand, setting out your grocery bags before leaving so you are not stuck in a situation without one, or if ordering take-out, remember to request it without extra cutlery, straws, or napkins. Discover a sustainability-themed documentary or read an interesting article - and consider sharing it with the group or others in your life. Whatever you choose to focus on, keep up the fantastic work!

    Here is the Week 2 Form. Attached is a copy of the grid and point guide for your convenience. Please submit your Week 2 Form by Monday, March 15th. 

    At any time throughout the challenge (especially if you have recently joined!), you can revisit any of our emails or resources that have been distributed to the group at this Box folder. This folder can also be found by scrolling down to "More Information" on the iSEE Plastic Free Challenge webpage. As always, we invite you to email us with any feedback, questions, comments, or to let us know how the challenge is going for you. We also encourage you to share these thoughts with your fellow participants on the Waste Reduction @ Illinois Facebook page; we can all learn from each other and hopefully decrease our plastic waste as a group.

    Thank you and have a great week!

    Meredith Moore, iSEE Sustainability Programs Coordinator 
    Emily Dickett, iSEE Sustainability Intern

  9. Week 1 - Tips and Resources

    Associated Project(s): 

    Good morning! You are several days into Week 1 of the Plastic Free Challenge . . . how is it going? We would love to hear what you have learned, what you are struggling with, or any creative ways you have earned negative points for your waste-conscious actions thus far. Feel free to share your feedback with us through email or with the Waste Reduction @ Illinois Facebook Group.

    If you’re like us, you are probably surprised with the amount of plastic you use and how integrated plastic is into your everyday life. Becoming conscious of this waste is a great first step to reduce it. Did you do any research on plastics this week or learn anything new? Here is a good resource with easy swaps to get rid of that plastic in your life. Try estimating your plastic footprint, which will hopefully decrease by the end of the month and beyond. Don't forget to track these actions as negative points on your grid.

    Every week on Thursday we will send an email checking in with a tip to help reduce your plastic waste for the week. This week, we are introducing the seven R’s of sustainability: a more up-to-date and sustainable version of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. The seven R’s highlight the importance of refusing plastic before you repurpose, reuse, and recycle. While the other R’s are great, the best way to decrease the plastic in our landfills and oceans is to refuse them altogether. Did you know that black plastic cannot be recycled? This is such a common item, especially when ordering take-out or to-go items. Check out the attached tip guide with more information and a few ideas on how to earn negative points for waste-conscious actions.

    Lastly, we would like to clarify how to score points for the actions you do often. For example, if you recycle every day, please count that action once each week (-5 points for the entire week); however, if you throw away your contact lenses every day, count +2 points for each day. We will then have a more accurate score for the week and can better compile the data from the group at the end of the challenge.

    Please remember to upload the Week 1 Waste Grid (attached) to the Week 1 Google Form at the end of the week, no later than Monday morning on March 8. Please reach out to us with any questions, feedback, or concerns, and remind friends it is not too late to sign up for the challenge! Don’t worry, though - once you complete your Week 1 grid, you will have extra chances for prizes.

    Thank you, and keep up the great work!

    Meredith Moore, iSEE Sustainability Programs Coordinator 

    Emily Dickett, iSEE Sustainability Intern

  10. Plastic Free Challenge

    Associated Project(s): 

    iSEE is hosting a campuswide Plastic Free Challenge throughout March! Participants will track their plastic use until March 28 using a predetermined grid and point system. The goal is for campus and community members to reduce their plastic consumption and refine their waste reduction skills. Tips and resources will be provided throughout the challenge, with the chance for prizes upon completion! 

    Plastic Free Challenge

  11. Week 1 - Welcome Email

    Associated Project(s): 

    Hello! Thank you for registering for the iSEE Plastic Free Challenge during the month of March. You have taken an important step to becoming more conscious of your daily plastic use, and we are excited to help as you continue your journey to becoming plastic-free. You are likely to know others who use too much plastic (after all, it's everywhere!); remember, it is extremely important to share the tips and resources throughout the challenge with other people and to lead by example.

    The Plastic Free Challenge will last four weeks: Monday, March 1 until Sunday, March 28. Each day, keep track of the items you throw away using the predetermined point system (attached). Each plastic item yields points and environmentally-friendly actions subtract points from your total, examples of which can be found on the point list. You do not need to track the items that you reuse or recycle. The goal is to earn as few points as possible. Please submit your grid at the end of each week by the following Monday at 8:00 a.m. using the Google Form. This week, upload the grid to the Week 1 Google Form by Monday, March 8 at 8:30 a.m.

    While the grid is a great way to track and total your points at the end of the day, we suggest you keep track of points on your phone or a piece of scratch paper as you throw away the items. Every week, we will send resources to assist you in this challenge and remind you to keep up the great work. This is a challenge, and it is not going to be easy!

    Remember - refuse plastics when you can, and make sure to repurpose and recycle those you must take. Hopefully, throughout the challenge, you develop a personal habit of waste consciousness. All participants will be entered into a raffle at the end of the challenge to win prizes! You will earn an entry for each week that you submit your grid and point total.

    We encourage you to engage with fellow participants on UIUC’s Sustainability forum: Waste Reduction @ Illinois | Facebook. This is where we welcome you to post questions, tips, and resources to support each other during this challenge!

    Please respond to this email if you have any further questions and reach out to us at any time throughout the month. We would love to hear from you! We are very excited to kick off this fun and impactful challenge with you all. Remember to recommend friends, family, and colleagues to join the challenge as well! It is never too late.

    Thank you and have fun!

    Meredith Moore, iSEE Sustainability Programs Coordinator

    Emily Dickett, iSEE Sustainability Intern

     

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