About a year ago, during the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit, world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years.
At De La Salle University (DLSU), we affirmed our commitment to sustainable development by including the phrase “attuned to a sustainable earth” in our vision-mission, and by indicating key result areas (KRAs) as articulated in its DLSU Sustainability Policy. Among the KRAs are “Education for sustainable development,” which is done through curriculum integration and research on sustainable development; and “Sustainable ‘green’ campuses and facilities,” which is gauged in terms of (a) environmental quality and standards, (b) healthy community and safe campus, (c) biodiversity conservation, and (d) waste minimization, efficiency and green productivity.
In practical terms, we recently conducted the DLSU No Impact Experiment, a one-week carbon cleanse program. Last June, members of the LaSallian community were encouraged “to perform small acts to reduce environmental impact, protect our planet, and enhance the quality of our life.” After registering online, participants committed themselves to undergoing the experiment by taking small steps related to the theme of the day.
For example, the challenge for Monday was to “waste not,” and among the suggested actions are: Go paperless. Bring a used sachet for the sachet recovery bin. Dispose of PET bottles and aluminum cans in the proper bins. Use reusable eco bags and containers. For Tuesday, the challenge was to “burn calories,” and the suggested activities are transport-related, namely: Walk. Take LRT / MRT, bus or jeepney. Carpool with friends.
For Wednesday, the challenge was “eat healthy.” How? By drinking local and eating local, eating vegetables, eating less meat, and ordering just enough food or by ordering half a portion. For Thursday, the challenge was to “reduce energy use. Here are suggested activities: Take the stairs. Unplug electricity when not in use. Google less. No TV. Use laptop/tablet only for work.
For Friday, the challenge was to “save water.” Suggested activities include: Finish your drink. Bring your own tumbler or mug. Don’t buy bottled water. Turn off tap when soaping hands or brushing teeth. Run water gently when needed. For Saturday, the challenge was to “share.” Suggested actions include: Pick up trash. Plant a tree. Perform random acts of kindness. Join eco-advocacy campaigns.
To help assess the effectiveness of the campaign, participants took a pre-experiment survey, liked the FB community page DLSU No Impact Experiment, posted selfies and shared their insights and reflections about the experiment, and finally took the post-week online survey. Given the generally positive feedback from the participants, it might be worth replicating the experiment not only in other academic institutions but in government and business organizations, as well.
The DLSU No Impact Experiment was co-organized by the Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center, whose director, Dr. Shirley Lua, provided me with information about the project. Other co-organizers were the College of Liberal Arts Research and Advanced Studies, Campus Sustainability Office, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Administration. The project, which was under the overall supervision of the Office of the Chancellor, was done in partnership with Redraw the Line, a project of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Government of Sweden and The Media Alliance.
Raymund B. Habaradas is an Associate Professor at the Management and Organization Department of the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University, where he teaches Management of Organizations and Management Research. He does research on SME development, corporate social initiatives and social enterprises. He welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.