Last week Advertising major Sheldon Minor chose to eliminate driving from his daily routine.
The most immediate impact of his choice was scheduling and clothing: Minor needed more time to get to school and gloves and a beanie to defend against the winter chill.
But it was the carbon impact of Minor’s choices that he and the rest of the students in Professor Kim Sheehan’s Green Brand Strategies (J460) were focused on during week three of winter term.
Sheehan incorporated “No Impact Week” into the class to deepen students understanding on environmental problems.
“This type of immersion is a key first step to crafting authentic and realistic green brand messages,” Sheehan said.
This one-week ‘carbon cleanse,’ conceived by author Colin Beavan, is designed to raise awareness of the effects of everyday actions and what a difference reducing impact can have on quality of life.
Each day of No Impact Week challenged students to examine and change one aspect of their lives. On Monday, for example, students were challenged to put together a ‘no trash travel kit’ to use the entire week. On Thursday, they investigated ways to eliminate or mitigate usage of any item that needed power before they attempted to ‘go off the grid’ for the day.
Every student, including Minor, blogged about the experience and will use insights to develop additional project work during the class, culminating with a campaign to encourage people at the UO to reduce their own impact on earth.
“I’ve realized that this experiment is more about awareness,” Minor wrote in his blog. “Like it or not, driving is just necessary sometimes. But is driving three blocks to the rec center really a good decision? Probably not.”
For junior Shelby Dunlap the experiment went beyond examining her own impact. “This class has opened my eyes to the controversial topic of false advertising,” Dunlap said. “I think the bigger issue for me will be finding brands that are truly sustainable.”
The experiment grew out of Beavan’s book “No Impact Man” which chronicled the Beavan family’s work to live for a year in a small Manhattan apartment with no net impact on the environment.