For the second year, the Student Union and Green Hub Twente challenge students to come up with creative ideas to make their living spaces and student associations more sustainable. The best ideas are awarded up to 1500 euros to help the winners make them a reality. ‘We want to help students to make sustainable choices, offer a platform for great ideas and help them grow’.
This year’s Eco-Challenge is organized by students Tamas Szecsei and Chiara Poli Reghenzi. ‘We believe a lot of students find sustainability to be an important issue, but struggle to afford sustainable options in their daily lives. Students are often busy people, while sustainable investments cost money and it takes time for them to pay off. That needs to change.’ By organizing the Eco-Challenge, the two students want to encourage others to think about what they can do themselves to tackle this. ‘We are certain that there are great, creative ideas out there that any student house or association can implement. When working together, we can have a real impact – and have fun while doing it.’
Students who want to take part in the challenge can apply by making a short video in which they explain their idea, why it’s important and how they can implement it. The ideas can be in one of two categories: how to make their student house more sustainable, or ideas that apply to student associations. The best ideas in each category are invited to participate in the finale on 13 December, where a jury consisting of experts from UT, the Student Union, Green Hub Twente and the housing association De Veste will decide which three ideas are the best. The three winners in each category win up to 1500 euros to implement their idea in practice.
‘The perfect idea for the Eco-Challenge is an innovative solution to a sustainability-related issue that is easy to implement and that’s scalable to other student houses or associations as well. The Eco-Challenge is an excellent opportunity to have an impact because it amplifies your idea and gets a lot of others to implement it as well. What could be a better effect than that?’
The current energy crisis makes the Eco-Challenge even more relevant for students. ‘Everyone is being hit by the higher energy prices, but students even more so.’ Student houses are often old, not very well-insulated and they often use old appliances. ‘While we can’t do big renovations ourselves, there are a lot of things that we can do to save energy -and thus money- while making houses more comfortable to live in at the same time. Since student houses are shared spaces, that means students need to work together to have an impact. The Eco-Challenge is a great opportunity to do so.’ However, the Eco-Challenge is not just about energy: other sustainable ideas are welcome too. ‘For example, ideas to reduce waste, making events more sustainable or ways to share knowledge about sustainability within your association.’
In the end, the Eco-Challenge aims to inspire change by providing a knowledge hub and creating ambassadors for sustainability. ‘We want to share the knowledge that already exists in our community with a wider audience and help change the norm. We often hear that thinking about sustainability on the individual scale is useless as long as big corporations and governments don’t change. But we believe that small changes made today can power bigger changes in the future. Besides, how can you demand change from others if you don’t change yourself? When others see that young people prioritize sustainability in their daily lives, we can be outspoken in demands for change on all levels, and push corporations and other big organizations to change as well.’