1 Week to Save the Earth Challenge

Making a statement and reducing emissions in the fight against climate change by causing a cultural shift in the way we eat!

Photo of Aditya Jain
4 13

Written by

Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

April 12, 2000

Help us stay in touch!

503-308-9497 6832 NW Dandelion Ter. Oregon: Portland (97229)

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

instagram.com/1weekBU - social page | www.bu.edu/dining/1-week-to-save-the-earth/ - pledge tracker and summary | facebook.com/1weekBU - community page

Date You Started Your Project Started

The project officially began on February 26th, 2019 as that was the first day I discussed the idea with the Boston University Dining team. The first 1 Week to Save the Earth Challenge, however, was held from April 22nd-April 26th, 2019 - this was our first run-through of the idea on a smaller scale!

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

The world is at the verge of a climate catastrophe. Average temperatures are rising and major impacts to society have already begun. From the spread of disease to natural disasters, climate change will impact every facet of our wellbeing. The fact is: concrete actions must be prioritized today to manage climate change. Yet, global emissions have instead continued to increase rather than decrease, and a cooperative solution is nowhere to be found.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

In the environment debate, we often forget how intricately our diet is related to the entire ecosystem. Raising cattle requires land, water and pesticides to grow crops to feed them, drugs to keep them healthy and fuel to transport them. It takes 28 calories of fossil fuel to produce 1 calorie of protein from meat while it takes only 3 calories to produce from grain. In fact, the UN has stated that switching to a plant-based diet will be an essential part of climate strategy! I believe in the power of one. One person can make a difference in the battle against climate change. My solution is an innovative initiative: the “1 Week to Save the Earth Challenge.” During Earth week, people would pledge to go veg for 1 week culminating in the Summit - a space to have open and challenging conversation. We have seen a huge mindset change from our initial event last Earth Week; people realize that they have the power to cause real change. If the USA went vegetarian for just 1 week, we would curb 8.4 million tons of CO2 emissions, 700 billion gallons of water, 21 million acres of land, and 490 million gallons of gas. Imagine what would happen if the whole world took a stand for real change.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

Environmentalism has been important to me from a young age, especially since I participated in my local community projects as a Boy Scout. I developed my Eagle Project “Holy Cow! Day”, which focused on awareness about the impact of the beef and dairy industry on the environment. I was honored to have been featured in my local newspapers for this idea. Now a college student at Boston University, the college which once taught MLK Jr, I felt a responsibility to fight for bigger change. I joined the BU Student Government to advocate for 2000 students every Monday at Senate meetings. From the IPCC 2018 Report, I convinced my Senate to create the FEAST committee which I chair. I worked with BU’s Dining and Sustainability administrators to realize the #1WeekBU challenge. At BU alone, we had the potential to save 50 million gallons of water. Now, I want to grow this idea to impact the world!

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

When no one else will do something, we the people, especially the world’s youth, must take our future in our own hands - to shake up the system and cause immediate change. As activist Anne-Maria Bonneau stated, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” With your support, each individual change will multiply into millions and billions of emissions reduced. So let’s utilize the power of one and solve the environmental crisis!

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

We held our first “1 Week to Save the Earth Challenge” at Boston University during Earth Week 2019 as a proof of concept. When a person accepts the 1 Week Challenge, they take an online pledge to not eat meat and/or dairy for a week. They can join our FB community and interact with others trying to go veg - many for the first time. They can post their experiences and be motivated by the challenges and successes of others. Many of our users posted videos cooking delicious vegan meals or modifying dining hall meals to be vegan. Throughout the week, we held fun events teaching people how to eat veg, culminating with our big event: The Summit. Students and administrators came together to have a frank conversation about meat consumption - something that our country and world has struggled to do. Many left with a new understanding of what being veg can do and the power of the individual.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

It’s an innovative preventative strategy that would decrease emissions, save land, stop erosion, and reduce pollution without any cost. While renewable energy, etc are great concepts, they require geo-political support to be successful. That leaves people pessimistic about climate change. My idea puts us back in control. My project can also bring policy change, especially in the agriculture industry, through simple economics. Less demand = Less produced. Further, changing our diet acts as a gateway to other climate solutions. More land becomes available for planting trees or solar panel farms.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Every time I look back at the numbers from our 1 Week Challenge of 2019, I am blown away. From just a few months of effort, our community was able to save over 3,800 lbs of carbon dioxide emissions, 217,000 gallons of water, 5,200 sq ft of land, and 7,600 lbs of grain with over 300 days of veg diet pledged. Yet, the numbers do not compare to the energy of The Summit. The courage of students to have their minds challenged was inspiring. One participant discussed making vegan quinoa with their roommate and, once I began salivating, offered to make them for everyone! Another student shared how they felt ready to quit after the first vegetarian day; until they saw a video from our FB and realized a deli sandwich for lunch really wasn’t that bad. I used to be scared knowing that we had a long way to go to change people’s minds, but after the first 1 Week Challenge, I am filled with optimism.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Growing from Boy Scouts to now, I am very encouraged with my learning over the last years of progress with the 1 Week to Save the Earth Challenge. These efforts have laid the groundwork to take it to the next level. I am focused on organizing efforts to expand my committee at BU. We have also been expanding to other colleges by organizing an inter-college competition. We are establishing FEAST Chapters in high schools to teach leadership skills to youth. We are developing a website & app to log emissions and gamify the challenge. We need industry and celebrity partnership to increase brand awareness and get media attention to spread the concept to the world. We need funds to organize the events. Most importantly, we need you to sign on!

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Brand Development

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Mentors/advisors
  • Donations less than $100

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Religious minority (non-Christian)

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media
  • Article in the news

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?

Not applicable

Evaluation results

4 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 75%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 25%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 0%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 75%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 25%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 75%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 25%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 100%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 75%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 25%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Anastasia Walton

Great project! I love the fact that it is already gaining amazing results, can't wait to see it's development!

Photo of Aditya Jain

Thank you so much! We too were very pleased with the results of the first run last Earth week and we can't wait to make an even bigger impact this year if we receive the support needed!

View all comments