Undergrad Geoff Loughton reduces his environmental impact by using a refillable water bottle and riding a longboard to campus. Photo by Mary Dickieson

Geoff Loughton hopes No Impact Week will make an impact.

The Net Impact club Loughton belongs to has planned its event during Sustainability Week, March 19 to 26. They think it makes sense to join other campus groups also sponsoring events to increase environmental awareness.

Loughton is a fourth-year political science student. He and other Net Impact members were inspired by the story of Colin Beavan, an electronics engineer and New Yorker who decided to live for a year consuming as little as possible. Beavan’s blog about the experience turned into a documentary and the No Impact Project’s challenge week, which has been run on University campuses across the United States. Loughton says Guelph will be the first Canadian university to run a No Impact Week.

“Students will sign up before the beginning of the week and make an eight-day commitment to minimizing their impact and blogging about their experiences,” says Loughton. He credits undergrad Gavin Armstrong, another member of the group, for the idea of including staff and faculty. “This will give us a much broader range of experiences and give people a chance to see things from different perspectives,” adds Loughton.

Blogs will be hosted by the No Impact Project with a link from Facebook. The hope is that many who aren’t writing will read about the experiences of others and consider tracking their own environmental footprints.

When they sign up, participants will complete a survey to determine their knowledge and opinions about environmental issues. Then each day during the week there will be a workshop or activity focusing on a different area of consumption such as water or transportation. The bloggers will be asked to focus on the topic of the day in their writing.

“We hope the daily focus will encourage people to think about each aspect,” says Loughton. “A student who always takes the bus, for example, might feel he’s doing well; and he is, in terms of transportation. But perhaps he could also take shorter showers or take other steps to reduce water consumption.”

The final day’s event will look back over the past seven days and see what’s been learned. “We’ll finish up with another survey to see where people have changed their ideas because of their experiences,” says Loughton. There will also be prizes for winning bloggers.

The real prize, though, will be learning new ways to protect the environment. “It’s not about just one week, really. We want people to take away ideas about what they might do in their everyday lives to make a positive change.”

Click here to register or learn more about the No Impact Project.