Oxford unveils summer sustainability challenge

By Taj Simmons

The city has introduced a new eco-friendly summer challenge, hoping to spread the message of sustainable living for the future.

The Sustainable Summer Challenge program launched June 1. Oxford residents are encouraged to participate in environmentally-friendly tasks under categories such as appreciating nature and conservation of food, energy, and water. 

Participants can post proof of their accomplishments and track progress on social media by tagging the city’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. Each post receives one entry into a prize give-away. (Participants concerned about privacy can also send proof by direct message.)

Some examples of Sustainable Summer Challenge tasks include turning your faucet off while brushing your teeth, using reusable bags at the grocery store, switching out old light bulbs for energy-conscious LED ones and picking up litter at a park.

Reena Murphy, a Miami University graduate student majoring in environmental science, worked on the project as part of a climate internship with the city. A goal of the program is to “get some people who are not necessarily sustainably-minded to see some of the easy steps they can take to be more sustainable,” Murphy said.

Murphy said the program could also help people who already practice sustainability to break out of their routines, or “expose them to new ways or to challenge them to branch out.” She said a task she was excited for was buying local produce from the Oxford Farmers Market.

Participants in the program will be entered in drawings for a composting starter kit, two “sustainable kitchen kits” and a rain barrel. Drawings will be held June 22, July 20, and August 10.

Murphy said the challenge also promotes Oxford’s commitment to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy

Murphy said Assistant City Manager Jessica Greene was instrumental in putting the project in place. Greene wrote to the Observer that the challenge aligns with Oxford City Council’s goal to become carbon net neutral by 2045.

“It will take everyone making small changes to achieve carbon neutrality,” Greene wrote. “Our Sustainable Summer Challenge is a small step toward that goal.”