Are you ready to take the Ecochallenge?

Project aims to get people to make changes for environmental sustainability

Riding your bike is one example of an Ecochallenge

What will you do for the environment on Earth Day?

You could sign up for the inaugural UO Ecochallenge and pick one or more challenges to undertake, and then see what your friends and colleagues are doing.

The idea behind the Ecochallenge is to “help people explore personal behavior changes they can make that have a positive impact on the environment and at the same time a positive impact on their happiness,” said Steve Mital, who directs the UO's Office of Sustainability.

About 100 people have signed up for the Ecochallenge so far, and Mital would like to get 1,000 or more registered for the program.

Mital has offered about 40 suggestions on the Ecochallenge Web page — from using alternative transportation to get to work to taking shorter showers to bringing your own bag to the store — but those ideas are intended to be “just a launching point for your own creativity,” he said. “The most important thing is to pick something that’s right for you.”

Registrants will be able to see what challenges their friends and colleagues have undertaken.

Mital’s challenge is to volunteer at FOOD for Lane County. UO President Richard Lariviere has pledged to try video conferencing software instead of traveling to a meeting; avoiding bottled water; and replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs or LEDs.

Mital is hopeful that once people undertake their challenge, they’ll make a habit of it.

“We’re relying on the idea that if you commit to some change in your pattern for seven days, that there’s some likelihood it will rub off on you in ways that last longer than one week,” he said.

This year the Ecochallenge is open to students, faculty and staff, but Mital is exploring ways to open to alumni and the broader community.