"Our Choices Matter" – Climate and Energy Weeks at UVa

Transatlantic BridgeFunded by the German Embassy, and organized by Dr. Martin Sheehan's "Environment and Energy" seminar, the Transatlantic Climate Bridge Initiative at the University of Virginia enriched this year's family weekend with playful and informative outreach activities about climate change and energy security. The main events—"Bike for Light" and "Bridge to Sustainability"—took place on Saturday, November 6, 2010. Located on the central Newcomb Hall Plaza, the attractive activity stations invited students and their families to stop by and learn in very practical ways about clean energy and recycling strategies. The "Bike for Light" station allowed participants to compete for the creation of as much energy as possible. Software linked to the bike compared the energy produced to the average per-capita energy consumption of different countries. The "Bridge to Sustainability," on the other hand, introduced participants of all ages to the German art of Mülltrennung (waste separation). Prizes included organic cotton shirts, re-usable water bottles, and re-usable bags. Green Frisbees encouraged exercise and healthy lifestyles. The student-driven climate bridge initiatives culminated in a sustainable barbecue, hosted by the University's International Residents College on November 12, 2010. Organizers and guests enjoyed local organic bratwurst served on compostable plates with biodegradable cutlery to match. The pleasant atmosphere fostered many fruitful and international discussions of climate change and its many implications—social, economic, and political.