"No Impact Week" promotes a green initiative
In honor of Earth Week, the Sociology
Department’s Roots and Shoots class hosted “No Impact Week,”
encouraging the entire university to take part in a one-week
Dr. Beth Morrison, Roots and Shoots Club
advisor, was the professor of the similarly titled Sociology
level-400 course offered this spring 2013 semester.
“I have been the Roots and Shoots Club advisor
for four years, and I am a member of the Jane Goodall committee on
campus,” Morrison said. “These kinds of projects are near and dear
to my heart, especially when they can involve student service
Dr. Morrison built this semester’s Roots and
Shoots course around service learning; one of the philosophies of
the Roots and Shoots organization. Students then were told to create
a project that encouraged environmental and social change for the
benefit of the university community.
For senior Christina Ruggiero and many other students, the
class encouraged thinking about how to decrease negative impact on
“Before this year I didn’t really think about
it,” said Ruggiero. “This class showed me how to take knowledge
learned through research, watching documentaries and reading
articles, and bring it to a more public space.”
beginning of the semester, the class had a lucrative brainstorming
session where they began to form a concrete plan for their service
“I remember everyone threw dozens of ideas out
and completely filled the white board with writing,” Ruggiero said.
“I recently had learned about “No Impact Week” after watching the
documentary film No Impact
Man and realized it would be a great way to encompass everyone’s
No Impact Man is a hilarious, eye-opening look into the Beaven
family’s year-long challenge to abandon high consumption and
decrease negative environmental impact. Author and co-director Colin
Beaven’s experiment teaches that it is not about what is being given
up, but instead what is gained.
“Much of this low impact and environmentally
conscious lifestyle is about eliminating the overload of consumerism
and continually buying things we don’t need,” Ruggiero said.
WCSU “No Impact Week” focused on various daily
themes, with a number of events each school day.
“Nature and the environment are very important
to me and that is why my event was the Friday hikes at Tarrywile
Park,” Ruggiero explained.
“And I think outdoor activities can have a huge impact on the
individual because they help people realize that our actions greatly
affect the beautiful nature you just interacted with.”
Keeping with the theme of no impact, the
students worked with almost no budget and forced themselves to be
resourceful and recycle materials.
“The students utilized social media as a way to
promote their event,” Dr. Morrison said. “They recycled and
repurposed the backs of old flyers as well. If they had purchased or
used new materials it would not have been in line with the message
“No Impact Week” hosted a wide spectrum of
activities that took into account the various lifestyles of
university members. These included yoga in front of Fairfield
Residence Hall, a Midtown campus scavenger hunt, an Ultimate Frisbee
tournament, a plant sale, and a continual trash display on the quad.
The week’s success was not measured by the number of participants at
each event, but rather by its ability to get participants to reflect
on their treatment of the world and to see if there are ways to
decrease that negative behavior.
“This is not an individual or even a university
issue, it is a problem borne from our culture as a whole,” Ruggiero
said. “We need to shift our focus from overusing consumable things,
and, instead, promote a simpler lifestyle without all that extra
In a society consumed with material goods, have
we forgotten to appreciate the world around us? Have we become too
accustomed to the buy, use and toss mentality? Perhaps we have, but
“No Impact Week” proves that it is never too late for change.
“I am not sure if an event of this size and
intricacy will happen again, but I know the Roots and Shoots Club
will continue to provide services, education and events that promote
the ideals of “No Impact Week” and this class,” Dr. Morrison said.
Roots and Shoots class and club will continue
to spread the word of “No Impact Week” and encourage new people to
think about their actions, research the issues and develop ways in
which together we can connect personal happiness and service to the
“I am hoping that this class and this week will
get enough positive feedback that it can start to become a core part
of the academic curriculum, but also the culture of this
university,” Morrison concluded.
Cover Photo: Roots and
Shoots class and organization members selling plants on the Midtown
Story Photo: "No Impact
Week" trash display on campus showing the Western community how much
they actually waste per day