Caught Green Handed competition begins in residence halls

SEED puts on this year’s Caught Green Handed competition engage residence hall students with sustainable practices

Grace Schutte

More stories from Grace Schutte

May 10, 2023

Photo by Submitted by Housing and Residence Life

The hall with the most Green Points at the end of April will get both a certificate as well as an indoor tree for their lobby.

For many, April marks the beginning of spring. For students at UW-Eau Claire, it also marks the beginning of the Caught Green Handed competition. 

This year, it is hosted by Students Encouraging Environmental Deeds, an organization set within student housing dedicated to encouraging sustainability in residence halls. 

Year-round, SEED offers programs to RA’s about sustainability and health, Hanna Dockter, a third-year communication sciences and disorders student, said. They also pair fun activities with them, such as making eco-friendly products like homemade laundry detergent. 

“We host events every month and try to engage students in sustainability in the residence halls,” Dockter said. 

In April, they prepare additional activities, presentations and crafts, working behind the scenes to put together the Caught Green Handed competition. 

“It’s in place to help boost knowledge about sustainability on campus and encourage students to follow those rules surrounding it — to be mindful about their waste and how they recycle,” Miranda Golz, a third-year psychology student, said. 

Competitors can earn Green Points, Dockter said, by participating in the Just Bag It Fashion Show, keeping their recycling clean, following the UWEC Housing Sustainability Instagram account, putting up sustainability posters in their halls and attending SEED programs.

The winning hall gets an indoor tree to put in their lobby in addition to the traditional certificate, Dockter said.

While the activities and rewards seem lighthearted, Golz points out the importance of understanding sustainable living — particularly through recycling. 

“Recycling is a business and there are certain rules to it,” Golz said. “If items aren’t recycled properly — if there are things in the bins that shouldn’t be — it can contaminate the others and ruin them.”

Golz uses the example of a pizza box. If the greases and oils from it leak onto the recyclable cardboard, it can ruin the entire system. 

Trying to recycle something that isn’t meant to be can cause more harm than good, Golz said. 

In addition to clean recycling, there is also the Just Bag It Fashion Show. 

“In pre-COVID-19 times, it was an actual fashion show that happened in Schofield or Davies,” Dockter said. “People would get together in teams and make outfits out of 100 percent recycled materials, then strut their stuff down the runway for the judges to see.”

Viewers could expect a performance by Audacious, one of UW-Eau Claire’s acapella groups, and a water bar, including water samples from different sources around campus and Eau Claire. Dockter said those interested could try each and guess their source.

“Last year, the show was canceled, so we decided this year to do a virtual form of it,” Dockter said. 

Those still interested in participating can submit a photo of their costume, showing the front and back, along with a short description of what they made it out of to SEED’s email. 

On April 22, the contestants will be posted to the UWEC Housing Sustainability Instagram. Whoever has the most likes by April 25, will be the winner. 

The prize for first place is $200, second place gets $100, third $75 and $25 goes to the people’s choice, Golz said. 

Dockter and Golz both expressed their excitement for outreach and getting students involved with sustainability on campus. 

“I truly care about sustainability and I have since I was very young,” Golz said. “I knew that getting involved with SEED would give me the opportunities to promote sustainability on campus as well as to make an impact.”

SEED dedicates themselves to making their outreach not just informational but interesting, too, Dockter said. 

“I’m looking forward to people requesting SEED programs. We work hard to make these sessions not seem like a chore- we make them fun by incorporating all kinds of activities,” Dockter said. 

While the competition is directed toward students in the residence halls, Dockter says any student can participate in the Fashion Show. 

The information learned through Caught Green Handed, Golz said, can be applied both on campus and off it — and it’s important that students continue these eco-friendly habits after the winners are announced.  

The Caught Green Handed competition ends April 30.

Schutte can be reached at [email protected].