GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 18-10
Presentation Time: 10:40 AM


BRINKMANN, Robert, Northern Illinois University, 3483 Comstock Ave, DeKalb, IL 60115; Northern Illinois University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, DeKalb, IL 60115

In January of 2020, I offered the first free 30 Day Sustainability Challenge to the general public as a form of informal education around themes of sustainability. The Challenge was modeled on other types of challenges such as writing productivity challenges, food or diet challenges, sales challenges, and fitness challenges. In these types of challenges, participants are coached to take on different activities for a set time period with the hope that the length of the challenge will infuse new habits and outcomes. Since early 2020, several iterations of the challenge took place with hundreds of participants from all over the world. Participants were recruited using Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and placed within a closed Facebook group. For each iteration of the Challenge, I met with participants live for approximately 10 minutes a day for thirty days for sustainability coaching on a range of topics such as greenhouse gas reduction, food issues, and environmental justice. The participants could watch the videos live or at the leisure. They could also converse with each other within the group and share their best practices, their successes, and failures. Since the challenges started, most participants changed their behaviors in some ways. However, participants provided feedback that they wanted more practical hands-on things that they could do such as learning how to find local produce or purchase green energy. These results suggest that action-oriented and participatory informal sustainability education is an effective tool in moving individuals toward more sustainable lifestyle choices.