After listening to a long lecture, sophomore Becca Legatt wanted a bottle of pop from the vending machine before she hurried to her next class. As she dug through her backpack for some change, she remembered a challenge she recently accepted: no using or purchasing plastic bottles for two weeks.
Legatt is a member of the St. Thomas concert choir, a group of 70 students who accepted the same challenge April 6. The choir agreed to stop using plastic bottles and cup to “go green” and make a difference on campus.
“We have a very wonderful group of 70 students where more than half are involved in service projects in the community, and I thought it would be nice to do stuff as a choir, an organization,” said Angela Broeker, director of choral activities. “I think with no plastic bottles it’ll bring a general awareness to the group of how what we do affects our surroundings.”
Legatt said she used two plastic bottles a day before the challenge and has difficulty sticking to the challenge.
“This challenge is definitely raising awareness in my life and how much plastic I go through each day and week,” Legatt said. “It’s tough some days when I just want some carbonation after a rough day and I have to resort to drinking water, but it’s worth it.”
Senior Brendan Erickson, a concert choir member, lives off campus and finds the challenge a little easier than Legatt. Erickson also used about two plastic bottles a day before the challenge and had to use his own water bottle.
“The first week was the most difficult because I had to get used to filling up my own water bottle before class, instead of just grabbing something quick,” Erickson said. “I am hoping this challenge actually brings our choir closer together and that it helps others know what we’re doing so it spreads across campus.”
The choir’s no-plastic challenge will end April 20, when it will then receive wood-beaded bracelets from Broeker and start another challenge to eliminate uttering complaints for two weeks.
Two years ago, Broeker heard about a church providing bracelets to the community, in reminder to appreciate the things they do have in life instead of what they don’t. Every time a participant complained, it switched the bracelet to the opposite wrist. She hopes this challenge will be effective with the choir.
“I think this challenge will be extremely difficult for everyone, but it will cause us to be more aware of what words come out of our mouths and how they create a positive or negative community,” Broeker said. “I hope they get that the idea is to live in a position of gratitude, surround and recognizing the good.”
Both Legatt and Erickson feel this challenge will be the most difficult because of the amount of complaining that surrounds them each day.
“I think mine will be switching wrists a lot because I complain a lot,” Legatt said. “I need to be aware of how much I do actually complain. I mean, we have so much to be thankful for. Where am I to complain about it?”
Although each challenge only lasts two weeks, Broeker, Legatt and Erickson believe these challenges will carry into the habits they will have for the rest of their lives.
“It is like the analogy if you make a man a grilled cheese sandwich, he’ll be able to eat one meal, but if you teach him to make a grilled cheese sandwich, he’ll be fed forever,” Legatt said. “In our case, if you challenge students to do these projects for two weeks, it’ll conserve that many bottles and save that many complaints from being heard, but if you teach students a good lifestyle, it’ll bring habits that’ll carry into the rest of their lives.”
Broeker plans to continue challenges next year with help from the choir officers.
Ashley Stewart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.