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UMD Tackes the Earth Day Ecochallenge

Tri-fold image display. Left image is of produce aisle in grocery store; middle photo is of a sea turtle and final image on the right is people crossing the street
May 6, 2020

A UMN system-wide team joined a worldwide commitment to sustainability through the month of April

“Connecting with others helps me to stay positive and remember that we are all in this together.” -Abigail Schelonka

From April 1 through April 30, over 800 teams around the world created environmental and social change. The Earth Day Ecochallenge challenges participants to commit to sustainable actions from categories like Wildlife, People, Food, Climate, and Fresh Water. Teams earn points when their members complete actions like reducing the use of animal products, supporting pollinators and exploring nature trails in one’s area. 

The University of Minnesota team had 135 team members from all five UMN campuses. One of the members, Fiona Quick, says that the challenge gave her new things to think about every day and helped her act on them. Another teammate, Abigail Schelonka, reflects that “it was rather difficult to change my diet, as I have eaten a certain way my whole life.” Other members realized how much disposable stuff they use and changed some of their other habits to be more sustainable. 

Teams participated from 56 countries, including Brazil, India and the United Kingdom. Overall, we ranked 28 in the world and first in Minnesota! Our team spent up to 11,928 minutes outside, we consumed up to 125 meatless or vegan meals, saved up to 510 gallons of water, and many more amazing actions. 

While it’s encouraging to rank so highly, we are most proud of the personal, social and environmental impacts our teammates and competitors have made this past month. The 812 teams consisted of 10,211 participants from around the world. Together, we picked up 29,487 pieces of litter, saved up to 73,978 pounds of CO2, had up to 66,437 conversations with people about sustainability and much, much more. 

Personally, this challenge has inspired me by showing the power individuals have when we work together towards a common goal.