By Chelsea Vitone
Just as Facebook provides a social network for friends and family to come together, the website myActions.org has created the same forum for the environment, dubbing it “The Social Network for the Planet.” Partnering with the nonprofit organization Net Impact, they have created an engaging way for university students to track environmental responsibility on a smaller scale with an appropriately named contest called Small Steps Big Wins Campus Challenge.
The site is structured almost like a game. At the beginning of the profile creation, students can choose from a small list of non-profit organizations such as American Red Cross, Association of Zoos and Aquariums Conservation Fund, Environmental Defense Fund, National Parks Conservation Association, and the World Wildlife Fund that their actions can contribute to, and for each activity, a certain amount of money will be donated to that cause. According to the site, “Actions are organized across four categories: Save Energy, Reduce, Help Others, and Learn & Lead,” and each activity earns different point values, awarding extra points for social strength (i.e. adding a comment or photo) and tracking the number of actions logged since the beginning. Categories for environmental actions include Adjusting Thermostat, Power Saving, Turning Off, Saving Gas, Driving Less, as well as Recycling, Reducing, and Refusing waste. There are also actions based on water use and even diet.
By clicking on a particular action, students are given the option to customize their choices and add comments or photos about how or why they are taking these steps toward greener thinking. After a certain number of points are reached, students can level up to a new title (beginners are seeds, then become seedlings, etc.). Increasing points also boosts ranking among other students– all students at your specific university– and can eventually boost the schools rating nationwide. As of right now, UWT ranks number thirty.
Soon there will be apps for the Small Steps Big Wins Campus Challenge for iPhone and iPad at the App Store, and following that will be the Android app available at the Google Play Store.